Spotlight – Heating up

Materials World magazine
2 Nov 2016

Kimmo Kuusela, Senior R&D Manager at Glaston, Finland, talks to Ellis Davies about a new heat treatment machine monitoring technology, Glaston Insight.

What is Glaston?

Founded in 1870, Glaston is an international glass technology company and a pioneer in glass processing. Glaston provides heat treatment machines and services for architectural, solar, appliance and automotive applications. 

Our operations are divided into the machines and services business areas. Glaston’s machines business product portfolio covers a wide and technologically advanced range of glass processing machines for flat tempering, bending, bending-tempering and laminating. 

The services business provides glass processing machine maintenance services, machine upgrades and modernisations, spare parts and the tools required for high-quality glass processing. Glaston’s comprehensive service network is one of our most important competitive factors. Glaston operates globally and employs around 500 people. 

What is Glaston Insight?

Glaston Insight is a smart data anlysis program, which monitors heat treatment machinery online with immediate feedback from production, quality and maintenance from any location. The Glaston Insight service brings new and smart tools to improve machinery productivity, uptime and, most importantly, profitability.

How does it work?

The system gathers processing information from machinery and shows this via a mobile interface or network for customers to analyse and improve their productivity online without need to be physically in front of the machinery.

What advantages can Glaston Insight bring to the heat treatment industry?

Insight gives immediate online feedback on machinery uptime, usage and energy consumption. All the data is in real time and measured online, which enables customers to improve their efficiency, uptime, quality and troubleshooting. 

Customers are able to monitor possible bottlenecks and upcoming service needs, as well as quality. This
will result in faster response times and improved machinery efficiency, which ultimately increases customers’ profits.

Could you explain the online aspect of Insight?

Based on cloud services, Glaston Insight provides real time information from the machinery. All the machinery data provided through Insight is instant. For example, the customer stops the machine, the machinery status is updated online and will change immediately in Insight services.

Is Insight commercially available? What are the plans for the future?

Yes, Glaston Insight is commercially available for all Glaston Heat Treatment machinery equipped with the Glaston iControL automation (process control) system. The development of Glaston Insight will continue, and we are hoping to introduce new online tools and services through this portal. This is only the first step towards online services.

Technavio predicts metal heat treatment market for 2020

The results of a study conducted by Technavio, UK, into the global metal heat treatment market show a steady compound annual growth rate of 6% by 2020. The analysis predicts that rising investment in the construction and automotive sectors is likely to be the cause. 

Increased funding in construction is said to up the demand for copper and steel, and in turn create the need for heat treatment processes. Urbanisation in developing countries is also cited as a potential catalyst. 

The report also highlights the trend in the automobile industry for using lightweight materials. This preference could also support the metal heat treatment market, with aluminium and magnesium often used in the manufacture of eco-friendly or zero-emission vehicles – materials that require heat treatment. 

In a segmentation of end-users, the report predicts that the automotive industry will be the largest party in the heat treatment market by 2020, accounting for around 32% of the total market share.

The world’s largest commercial vacuum heat treatment machine

Solar Atmospheres, USA, has brought the world’s largest commercial vacuum heat treatment machine to its plant in Hermitage, USA. The furnace is 15m long and has a capacity of 6,804kg.

The vacuum prevents heat loss and stops contamination during the heating process. The furnace is able to operate at more than 1,100oC and is a US$10 million addition to the Hermitage area. The machine is well placed geographically, situated in the middle of the three major producers of titanium in northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania. 

Solar Atmospheres provides services to 18 different industries, and the new machine will help to facilitate the growing nuclear tubing demand. 

New furnace installed at CERN

As part of the Future Circular Collider project, CERN, Switzerland, is installing and testing a new GL010000 furnace at its facility. The machine will be used for the production of superconducting coils needed for the High-Luminosity Large Hadron Collider (LHC) upgrade and future colliders.

Niobium-tin (Nb3Sn) has been chosen as the material for the superconducting magnets used in LHC. To produce this compound, pre-wound coils of tin and niobium undergo heat treatment, a two-week long process during which the coils are raised to different temperatures, plateauing at 665oC. The GL010000 is able to increase temperature uniformly throughout the oven, which means all coils are heated to the same degree. The furnace is 32m long, allowing for the treatment of coils up to 11m in length, and can reach temperatures of 900oC.

Materion receives Nadcap merit for heat treatment

USA-based advanced materials provider Materion has received Nadcap merit status from the Performance Review Institute. The merit was given specifically for heat treatment and tensile and hardness testing at the Lorain, Ohio plant.

The merit is a form of special recognition based on the demonstration of commitment to quality satisfying customer requirements and industry specifications. Materion has held Nadcap accreditation since 2009, but the merit grants the company a longer period of accreditation – 18 months rather than 12.

Linde presents new convection technology

At Furnaces North America 2016, Linde LLC outlined how its new convection technology can boost furnace productivity and efficiency. Circulation fans can cause uneven convection currents, and as a result are not part of Linde’s latest technology.

Linde claims a number of benefits to its atmosphere control technology can be seen across a variety of heat treatment furnaces. These include better atmosphere mixing and control, reduced soot formation and increased unit productivity. 

By scrutinising the heat treatment process, Linde says the quality of metal parts can be improved by increasing the quality of circulation in the heat treatment atmosphere.