British Glass’ annual showcase of the UK glass industry, the Glass Focus Awards supported by Glass Futures, took place last night (21 November) with companies from across the whole glass supply chain celebrating their achievements over the past year.
Held at the Mercure St Paul’s Hotel in Sheffield, the best of what the UK glass sector has to offer was on show, from ground-breaking innovation to the fresh faces of the industry already making a difference.
Saint-Gobain Glass UK were the big winners of the night taking home three awards while Encirc also claimed two prizes following judging by a panel of industry experts.
British Glass CEO Dave Dalton said:
“Each year the entries we receive for the Glass Focus awards showcase excellent examples of what our industry can do, from serving our customers, investing in our workforce, reducing our environmental impact and beyond.
“While the last year has been incredibly uncertain for businesses across the UK, it is testament to our industry that it can consistently produce forward thinking innovations, such as the swabbing robots and use of virtual reality, extend its influence into the communities surrounding the factories and produce beautiful designs that wouldn’t be possible in any other material than glass.
“British Glass is proud of the achievements of all those who entered the awards and, of course, our winners and we look forward to seeing what the industry is capable of in the next 12 months.”
The full list of winners at Glass Focus 2019 are as follows:
Design of the Year – container sponsored by The Packaging Collective: The Ardagh Group with their Glenfiddich whisky bottle
Crafting a new design for Glenfiddich’s 12 and 15-year-old single malt whiskies, the Ardagh Group were tasked with emphasising the iconic brands unique heritage and origins in a new bottle.
The resulting design features a distinct V groove on the front, shoulder embossing, a new label platform on the neck and a seam-free labelling area while Ardagh also overcame several challenges in the manufacturing process to create the bottle.
While acknowledging that this category was one of the most difficult to pick a winner in, the judges were impressed with the “classy, authentic and simple but very elegant design which set it apart from the rest of the entries in this category.”
Design of the Year – flat sponsored by Glass Technology Services: Saint-Gobain Glass UK for their work on the Macallan Distillery and visitor centre
Saint-Gobain Glass UK’s work on the beautifully engineered Macallan Distillery and visitor centre saw them become the inaugural winners of this category.
The company created a striking façade for the building from 59mm thick double-glazed units of laminated heat strengthened safety glass and the design had to take into account the potential of natural movement from one of the most complicated timber roof structures in the world.
Solar control was also of high importance in the project, which remained sensitive to its natural surroundings, and impressed our judges as a “great example of using glass at its manufacturing limit to solve a problem.”
Innovative Solution sponsored by Limab: Encric’s state of the art virtual reality training room
Intensive training is key for hot-end workers in the glass industry and Encirc have found a unique way to improve the training they give to their staff in a safe environment, without an impact on production, by installing a virtual reality training room at their site in Elton, Cheshire.
Featuring a fully functional three-section glass forming I.S machine, the state of the art facility enables the company to effectively train new staff in hazardous scenarios, such as the outbreak of a fire in the factory, safely and give a greater understanding of the machines they’ll be working with which wouldn’t be otherwise possible on a machine that is in production.
As a result, it’s expected that the use of VR will cut down the length of training a new recruit by one week.
The judges praised the entry as a “step into the future of glass making” that will attract young people to come into the glass industry.
Health and Safety Action sponsored by Arco: Joint winners - Encirc and Socabelec for their hot end Swabbing Robots
For the Health and Safety Action award the judges agreed that the Swabbing Robots, manufactured by Socabelec in Belgium, and installed by Encirc on nine of their lines at their plant in Cheshire, were “head and shoulders above everything else,” and couldn’t sperate the two entries.
The autonomous robots swab the moulds on the I.S. machine while it is still in operation by spraying them with oil at 20-minute intervals.
This in turn eliminates the danger to Encirc employees, the risk of human error and the need to turn off the machines to manually swab the moulds which has improved productivity and health and safety at the company.
Sustainable Practice sponsored by AFT: Saint-Gobain Glass UK with their ‘Glass Forever’ post-consumer flat glass recovery and recycling initiative
Sustainability is key to the glass industry and this year Saint-Gobain UK took major steps to deliver on their commitment for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 by extending their ‘Glass Forever’ programme to include post-consumer glass.
Currently most glass from old windows ends up in landfill due to difficulty in extracting, collecting and processing the glass however, Saint-Gobain has introduced a number of new innovations, including a new processing machine, to take old flat glass and re-manufacture it into high-performance coated glass.
The initiative has helped increase cullet ratio at the company’s Eggborough plant to above 40%.
Judges hailed Saint-Gobain for not waiting for legislation to implement the initiative and the global impact that the CO2 reduction from the programme will have.
Strengthening Business Through People sponsored by Glass Futures: O-I’s ‘Career Ready’ community programme
Volunteers at O-I’s site in Alloa have created a talent pipeline alongside UK charity Career Ready for youngsters in the local area to join the glass industry which goes from mentoring school students to internships, an apprentice scheme and, finally, permanent employment.
The partnership has already seen two new employees begin their careers at the Alloa glass plant, learning from experienced and skilled practitioners.
Judges were impressed with the programme building a sense of community in the local area and encouraging people to come into the glass industry by providing guidance and mentoring.
Apprentice of the Year sponsored by The Worshipful company of Glass Sellers of London: Joe Boyd of Saint-Gobain Glass UK
Saint-Gobain UK’s Joe Boyd is nearing the end of his apprenticeship as a Control and Instrumentation Engineer, which has seen him work on all three production lines on automation investigations, adaptations and new capability design at the Eggborough site.
Joe has been working closely with the Industry 4.0 team and his value to the company has already been demonstrated, saving the business money with programmes he has been responsible for and implemented.
The judges were very impressed with 21-year-old Joe’s work so far which includes working on international projects in and outside of Europe as well as being trusted to implement a £20k from start to finish.
Company of the Year: Allied Glass
Allied Glass have shown excellence across the year in terms of its own business performance while also representing and strengthening the glass sector as a whole.
Their investment in a new decoration line and office space has allowed them to continue to manufacture high-quality, innovative designs for a number of customers in the spirits sector.
The Knottingley-based business has also strengthened their ties with their local area through a number of community initiatives, including refurbishing the library of a local school, and has been actively engaged with British Glass committees making them a worthy winner.