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Glass transfer automation raises competitiveness

Automation is increasingly the trend in the insulating glass sector. Technology is being used to improve the quality of the products and processes, and to lower production costs.

SortJet for online production

Degree of automation depending on operational conditions

Depending on the company’s circumstances, different levels of automation are possible. According to HEGLA Managing Director Manfred Vollbracht, the level of automation that is appropriate must be determined on a case-by-case basis as part of a cost-benefit analysis for each company. The analysis must include information on production quantity, product range, processes, the building situation, and the existing machines.

In order to reinforce the company’s long-term competitiveness, the focus must be on the processes in which automation can reduce material usage and unit wage costs and increase throughput.

Automation for glass transfer between cutting line and insulating glass production

One process step that continues to come into focus when considering automation is the transfer of glass between the cutting line and insulating glass production. The more cutting is managed in a chaotic, waste-optimised sequence and the greater the product diversity, the more difficult the handling for the operator at the end of the cutting line. Not only has the glass to be unloaded quickly. It must also be put down without damage in a way that makes it possible to be placed on the ISO line in production sequence and without any loss of time.

If harp racks are used to reduce material use, the operator will load some of them. Operators are shown the compartment intended for the specific pane on the breakout display. Whenever extra panes are required, the optimisation software will also indicate which compartments are to be used. The filled harp racks are then brought to the ISO line.

Sequential feed for partial automation of glass transfer

With this sequential withdrawal option, HEGLA provides an opportunity for the partial automation of glass transfer. The concept’s core idea is for panes that have been collected in harp racks in sequence and positioned for easy withdrawal to be automatically removed via sequential withdrawal and brought to the ISO line in the sequence required for production. The harp racks are cycled on a transfer section such that sequential withdrawal can be used to transfer individual panes in the sequence required.

Preferably, the harp racks should be filled automatically and without scratches by an offline SortJet integrated into cutting.

Optional loading station of the Iso-Line

An alternative to sequential withdrawal would be a random ISO line loading station. In this case, glass would be compartmentalised by type: for example, separated by float/low-e, LSG/low-e, single-pane safety, and ornament glass. The filled harp racks are positioned on one of the station’s removal slots. An automated loading shuttle stops exactly in front of the slot of the relevant harp rack in order to remove the glass. This enables the shuttle to access all panes. The glass is transferred true to cycle and in production sequence.

This automation step eliminates the need to manually feed extra panes into previously filled harp racks.

HEGLA SortJet as a comprehensive automation concept

HEGLA supplies SortJet as a cross-system automation concept. A dynamic interim storage unit is the heart of the SortJet. It buffers the chaotic, waste-optimized sequentially cut panes for use on the ISO line. In a fully automated step, the panes are transferred directly from the cutting line and transferred by an input shuttle to the interim storage unit. At the same time, an output shuttle removes the panes required for insulating glass production from the buffer and generates a continuous, synchronous glass flow to the ISO line. Thanks to an optimal combination of a horizontal or swivel conveyor, transfer walls, and a rotary conveyor, the glass is automatically transferred with the required alignment in production sequence. As an online variant, the SortJet is directly connected to the ISO line so that the fully automated glass loading process takes place directly on the production line.

Offline SortJet as alternative to direct connection to iso line

It may not be possible to directly link the SortJet to the ISO line, so HEGLA also provides an offline variant. In this variant, glass is transferred between the SortJet and insulating glass line in harp racks. The Iso-Flow is used to remove the glass, transferring the panes to the ISO line true to cycle and in production sequence.

With the offline concept, the cut-break process is completely decoupled from insulating glass production. This facilitates flexible pre-production. However, the disadvantage is that the harp racks limit the maximum glass size.

In total, online connection saves space and can easily feed large quantities of glass to the ISO line.


Further Information:


Marketing and Communication

Carsten Koch
Industriestraße 21, D – 37688 Beverungen

Telefon +49 (0) 52 73 / 905-121

Sequential entry

Image 1: HEGLA – Sequential withdrawal as partial automation of glass transfer upstream from the ISO line

Optional Loading Station

Image 2: HEGLA – Random loading station. An output shuttle removes the glass directly from the pre-sorted harp rack and transfers it to the ISO line.

SortJet for online production

Image 3: SortJet for online production. Directly from cutting to the ISO line. The glass is transferred in production sequence with the required alignment.

SortJet output Shuttle

Image 4: While glass is stored in the dynamic interim storage unit, the twin output shuttle can remove panes. The cross-system SortJet principle generates a continuous glass flow.