The installation of new, advanced Hegla cutting solutions at leading glass manufacturers, Village Glass, is set to make a major impact on the architectural market. A £4 million total investment in new automation and toughening systems will create a new benchmark for the industry, and will help to further raise production standards thanks to improved efficiency, cost savings and faster product turnaround.

The state-of-the-art Hegla installation includes a sophisticated, Re-master sub plate management system, Gantry Loading System working from Automatic Concertina Racking Systems for increased glass types, Laser Marking, Optimax Float Table with Automatic X Breakout, Pro-Lam combination float/laminated cutting table and a 6m EcoLam for oversize Laminated Glass

As one of the most well known and respected manufacturers in the UK it was imperative

to the senior management team that only the highest standards of technology would be

considered for installation at Essex based, Village Glass. With Hegla being recognised for providing excellence and quality on a proven range of products, initial discussions took place in respect of the glass cutting equipment as part of this large expansion programme.

Due to an ever increasing order book, the Hegla system provides much needed, additional fully automated cutting capability and will enable Village Glass to further diversify its range of products to include larger jumbo sized units for curtain walling projects.

The technical benefits and cost saving advantages gained from the equipment were already well known to Steve Larvin, Managing Director at Village Glass.

He comments, “We had spare capacity in certain areas of the factory and were only producing 50% of our overall capacity, so it made sense to invest to improve cutting efficiency as output was continually increasing. Bottlenecks have now been removed and the whole facility is far more streamlined than ever before. Investment in cutting and toughening will allow us to supply a more diverse range to the higher end architectural sector.

Previously, loading was an issue that we had to resolve; so we have further automated our manufacturing processes, which also includes a new software program.”

This installation will assist in the redevelopment of production methods using Hegla’s latest equipment including the combination float laminated cutting technology that provides unrivalled manufacturing features. As with all Hegla projects, the machine was specifically designed to suit the needs of the company.

The machine has a comprehensive range of special Hegla options, Twin Soft Coat Edge

Deletion, Twin Float Cutting Heads, X and Y Axis Overlap PVB Trimming, Grinding and Laser Marking glass identification for toughening applications.

Laser marking capabilities provide faster, more reliable glass recognition and this broadens the scope for future industry marking requirements. Customer queries can also be resolved far more quickly and effectively with this feature.

Some unique cost-saving features perfectly suited the requirements of Village Glass, with the innovation for laminate foil trimming being supplied by Hegla. This ensures that the reference edges of the glass have no PVB overlap, which subsequently guarantees perfectly flat edges that sit better and are more aligned on the sealed unit manufacturing lines. Other modern features such as twin edge deletion.

Having one of the most modern glass processing sites in the country, producing over

4,000 m² units per week into the commercial sector, Village Glass continues to see steady and substantial growth during what many are describing as an extremely uncertain economy.

National Recognition

The company is recognised nationally for its top quality standards and high end products, having been responsible for supplying products for some of the UK’s most dynamic projects in the Capital including Regent Street, the Olympic Village and numerous London Hotels as well as prestigious projects further afield nationally.

Despite certain trepidation in relation to current political turmoil and the effects of Brexit, Steve Larvin takes an extremely positive approach to the industry moving forward. The current expansion program is part of a larger growth phase at the company which includes the redevelopment of the Village Glass Board. Alongside Steve, Gary Wilton has been appointed Operations Director, with Daniel Harrendence Sales and Technical Director.

Steve continues, “This has been a very structured investment with an improvement to quality the priority. Some of the older equipment installed here could not handle the capacity. We wanted a more automated facility with less handling.

As most IGU manufacturers cannot make units with both dimensions over 2800mm, Village Glass now has the ability to make double glazed units 3000mm x 50000mm this puts us in a unique group.

As the Hegla pedigree is recognised for its reliability and quality output – there really was no other option for us.”

The Board considers the relationship with Hegla a partnership, and one that will continue to grow, based on common beliefs of providing the highest quality as standard, which has helped to further solidify business relations.

Growing Awareness

With consumer awareness continually growing, as installers and specifiers are now required to deliver so much more in respect of high performance glasses, Village Glass has taken the progressive approach to install equipment that will meet future market demands.

Another key element in choosing the Hegla brand came from the possibilities now available in terms of product diversification. Village Glass can reap the benefits of being able to purchase all glass types in the market place and develop the product portfolio considerably with Pilkington, Guardian, Saint Gobain and AGC all substantiating the product range.

Fully understanding customers’ manufacturing requirements and developing tailored plans accordingly is the key to success for the Hegla team and its customers. It is important to prepare accurate layouts in CAD in consultation with the customer to maximize the use of the area available taking into account output and flow. The strength of Hegla is that in theory, all is possible because they manufacture all in-house, with footprints of machines which can be modified to suit the space available as long as output is not effected.

After an initial training period the Village team is now proficient on the specially tailored Hegla equipment which allows the company to cut and handle very large glass plates. Ultimately, this gives the company more control and helps to improve quality standards.

Furthermore, the warehouse management system is now vital as this controls stock levels, residual plate allocation and management statistics, therefore with the press of a button operators can obtain a printout giving them batch traceability, stock control and stock evaluation, which gives them an instant overview.

Vital Investment

As a leading company with an established reputation in the commercial sector, the technical investment in Hegla equipment was considered vital due to increasing market demands in product specification and building regulations. The level of investment was substantiated by the design, engineering and product performance of the Hegla range.

Steve Larvin concludes, “We have expanded our horizons dramatically and can reinvigorate the market. Quite simply, the equipment was chosen because of the superiority and reliability of the Hegla brand which will allow us to move forward as a company. It will give us a real edge as we look to introduce new products later this year.”

Village Glass has a proactive approach to the industry and we are quietly optimistic about the future despite what some may perceive as potentially difficult trading conditions. We feel the Hegla system is exceptional value for money and are delighted with the results so far.”

Steve Goble, Managing Director, Hegla UK comments: “Hegla Group will always do our best to provide customers with efficient, tailor-made solutions. We look forward to continuing our working relationship with Village Glass as their key target sectors expand and the corporate position strengthens further.”