As a manufacturer, we are always looking for ways to improve the quality of our products and processes in our facility. Recently, we installed a high-speed, vertical insulated glass line by Erdman Automation to fabricate our impact-resistant insulated glass units. The Erdman line will allow us to work smarter – not harder – through the integration of state-of-the-art automation technology.
The line’s automated features reduce the labor cost by about half that of the current line, allowing us to allocate our most valuable resource (employees) to other areas of production. Automation also improves upon product quality by reducing variability in production, resulting in higher quality consistency. Additionally, the Erdman line is much faster than our existing IG process. Capable of producing an IGU at an average time of 24 to 43 seconds – pending size and added options – the Erdman line will support growth as we continue into the busier seasons.
Erdman Automation — Process Overview
The IG process begins at the infeed conveyor, where an operator places the two glass lites to be made into an IGU. The first glass lite will be the “topping lite” while the second will be the “spacer lite”. The line’s dual sensors scan the glass to ensure it is within tolerance and that the low-e layer is on the proper side. Once both lites are confirmed, they pass through the washer where they are cleaned of debris and fingerprints.
Once cleaned, they arrive at the inspection station where a fluorescent light helps an operator inspect the glass for any imperfections. If approved, the lites are sent to the parallel conveyor which splits them into two separate lanes that run parallel. The spacer lite travels at the front of the line, while the top lite travels behind.
At the next station, the spacer is applied to the spacer lite. Using automated technology, a robot applies the spacer around the glass lite. Once the spacer is applied, the lites continue to travel down the line towards the grid station.
If an IGU requires a grid, a precision laser is projected onto the spacer lite indicating an accurate grid placement. An operator will place the grid on the spacer lite and send the two glass lites to the alignment station where the two glass lites are sandwiched together.
Afterwards, the IGU goes into the argon chamber where it is filled with argon gas. Held together by the spacer’s sticky adhesive, the IGU is not yet permanently sealed. The glass unit leaves the argon chamber and is heated along all four sides individually by infrared heating lamps as it moves down the belt causing the spacer’s adhesive to activate. The unit then enters a press where pressure is applied to the unit creating a strong seal.
Finally, the IGU moves to the fully automated 4th corner sealing station, where the 4th corner is heated, sealed with a pressure wheel and pressed together to ensure a strong 4th corner seal every time.
Afterwards, an operator will remove smaller completed IGU’s and place them onto a rack, where they will be transported to the next station to be placed into a sash. Larger IGU’s however – such as patio doors — will be forwarded onto the next station to be removed by a large robotic arm.
Using suction cups, the robot lifts the large IGU’s and carefully places them onto a rack where they will be transported to the next station. The robot reduces the number of people needed to offload units on the line and is quicker and more ergonomic than risking injury by having employees move the heavy IGUs.
Duralite Spacer by Quanex
With the addition of the new vertical Erdman glass line, we have also switched to the Duralite® spacer by Quanex Building Products on all of our OceanView® impact-resistant products. A warm edge spacer built with a unique no-metal, composite laminating technology – the Duralite spacer provides superior durability and thermal performance for insulated glass units.
The spacer is comprised of an air-filled polycarbonate shim, butyl sealant, three-sided continuous moisture barrier and a desiccated top coat. The spacer is grey in color to closely resemble spacers used on other product lines. For additional information on Duralite, visit the Quanex Duralite Spacer page.