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Bigger Glass, Fewer Workers, Higher Expectations Demand New Tools For Glaziers
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Business is booming for contract glaziers. The construction industry is strong, marking robust growth in most segments throughout 2016. And architects are demanding more glass, including heavier, larger and more custom pieces.
The increase in jobs requires quick work and more workers, and the increase in more custom, complex jobs requires more experience. However, the skilled labor shortage presents a host of logistical challenges for glaziers, particularly during installation.
“Glaziers are doing more work. They’re doing bigger work. And, they are having a hard time finding skilled labor,” says Alan Nudi, account manager, Ergo Robotic Solutions.
To combat these challenges, many glaziers are turning to on-site handling tools, such as vacuum lifters, carriers and mini-cranes.
The lack of skilled labor is a primary concern for companies turning to lifters, particularly when it comes to worker safety, Nudi says. The inexperience of workers on a job site could create an environment where accidents and even injury might occur. Nudi says that the emergence of its automatic lifters and handling tools can help reduce that risk. “The cost of one worker’s comp claim could pay for one of these machines,” he says.
Officials at Wood’s Powr-Grip also note the increasing complexity of glazing systems as a challenge. “As glass becomes more complex, the need increases for us to create machinery that gets it all done correctly and safely,” says Holly Anderson, technical sales for Wood’s Powr-Grip.
The company developed vacuum lifter technology to alert glaziers to installation issues, such as low battery life, inconsistent suction, etc. It keeps the focus on the installation rather than the operation, ultimately increasing glazier safety, says Anderson.
Norbert Wienold, president of Wienold Lifte, wienold-lifte.de, says that bigger, thicker glass offers opportunities for glaziers and handling equipment manufacturers alike. But, it also makes transport and installation more difficult and increasingly dangerous. “Now more than ever, quality and efficient handling equipment is needed,” says Wienold.
Not only do advanced lifters and handlers allow installers to manage larger, more complex jobs more safely, they also allow glaziers to complete these jobs with fewer workers.
Cody Hagel, co-owner of glazing company TC Glass, says, “The fewer hands you have on the glass, the better off you are. Equipment cuts out the need for more guys and increases their safety.”
With the support of increasingly diverse and advanced handling equipment, glaziers are able to tackle more jobs—and more complex jobs—faster and safer. The following pages showcase the handling equipment used to solve challenges in three recent notable installations.
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