Bob Lipetz introduction Glass Problems Conference_pixelated-cropped

[Image above] Glass Manufacturing Industry Council executive director Bob Lipetz welcomes attendees to the 81st Conference on Glass Problems on Monday, Oct. 26. Credit: GMIC

When it comes to gaining a competitive edge in the marketplace, minimizing risk and maximizing profit are two worthy goals for manufacturers to pursue.

But there is another goal that is highly considered in today’s world as well—stewardship.

“It’s also my personal hope that our efforts this week will help to increase global sustainability, expand economic productivity, and improve the quality of life in our communities,” says Glass Manufacturing Industry Council executive director Bob Lipetz in his introduction to the 81st Conference on Glass Problems (GPC), which took place virtually last week from October 26–30.

GPC is the largest glass manufacturing conference in North America, and it is coorganized by The Glass Manufacturing Industry Council (GMIC) in partnership with Alfred University. The annual conference aims to provide a platform for leading experts and manufacturers to share information on new innovations and methods to deal with the industry’s problems manufacturing glass.

Like many industry and academic conferences this year, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented GPC from being held in person. However, by making the decision in May to reformat GPC as a virtual event, Lipetz says GMIC and Alfred University had time to design a conference that ended up being a success by several measures.

For one, out of the 201 attendees, a record number of 54 students attended. The ability of students to attend is thanks in part to a $15,000 grant from the Air Products Foundation given to GMIC and The Ceramic and Glass Industry Foundation (CGIF) to foster innovation by the next generation of ceramic and glass professionals.

“We are extremely thankful to Air Products for this generous gift,” says Marcus Fish, director of development for the CGIF.

Likely the most notable success was the sessions themselves. “The most important metric is that the quality of the programs were top notch. We had a variety of lectures, all of which were of value to the industry,” Lipetz says.

The technical plenary session, which took place all of Monday, touched on a comprehensive list of topics that are of big interest in the glass manufacturing industry, including Industry 4.0, sustainability, and more. The next few days featured technical sessions that zeroed in on some of these specific topics, including construction/repair and melting on Tuesday and quality controls & sensors and environment & sustainability on Wednesday.

A special symposium organized by GMIC on “The Future of Glass Manufacturing” took place Thursday and Friday, and it looked ahead at how some of the nascent innovations will shape the glass industry in the coming years, specifically in the areas of digital transformation, resources, and furnace design.

A few sponsored sessions also took place after the main sessions Monday–Wednesday. For example, industrial sensors and measuring devices manufacturer AMETEK Land showcased a number of case studies using their in-furnace thermal imaging for survey and operations optimization, industrial gas supplier Air Products discussed the development of a novel new oxy-fuel boosting technology, and industrial engineering group Fives reviewed its most advanced solutions in the field of hybrid furnaces.

Though the networking aspect of the conference was nothing like an in-person conference, “As a mirror of the resilience of the glass manufacturing industry, the GMIC found ways to meet its mission with this year’s conference,” Lipetz says. “This is just one of many indications that the industry will weather this storm.”

The 82nd Conference on Glass Problems will take place Nov. 1–4, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. Abstract submissions are open until Jan. 22, 2021, at 9 p.m. Eastern.