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IGMA: February 2016

Preparing for change


February 9, 2016
By Margaret Webb

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Architects and engineers are upping the game on building envelope design: unusual aesthetics, improved thermal performance and taking into account the human factor using daylighting controls.  The fenestration industry has felt the impact of these new designs and has risen to the challenge with complex products such as dynamic glazing and insulating glass configurations not seen before.

So, do current insulating glass certification programs meet the needs of the industry? For the majority of products available in the marketplace, the answer is a resounding yes. Based on tried and true fundamentals of physics developed at the National Research Council of Canada by Dr. Dick Solvasen, the standard 300-by-500 mm, four millimeter glass test units have an edge seal pressure that exceeds most of the conditions an insulating glass unit will endure during its lifespan. But what about the products that aren’t mainstream: the dynamic glazings, the complex constructions that include opaque interior lites, asymmetrical cavities and glass thickness, unique materials within the cavity, bent glass units?  Do current certification guidelines provide assurance from the manufacturers of these products to their customers, building owners and occupants? Perhaps not. Compounding this, a major turnover in plant personnel is happening right now as the Baby Boomers are retiring, taking with them a wealth of knowledge and experience in the fabrication of insulating glass units just when that expertise is needed most.

These are some of the issues the IGMA board of directors discussed at its strategic session held in early January this year. Recognizing that the needs of the manufacturers are changing, the IGMA board is addressing these two fundamental areas along with the rest of its work. The Certification and Education Committee has now been divided into two separate, distinct committees so that both strategic areas get the directed focus they need.

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The Certification Committee is currently developing new equivalency guidelines based on performance attributes rather than material properties so manufacturers will be able to change desiccated material, sealants and spacers based on performance equivalency rather than on generic categorization. A new topic being introduced at the upcoming IGMA 2016 Winter Conference in Indian Wells, Calif., in the first week of March is how to develop certification program guidelines for complex product configurations so that manufacturers can, with confidence, provide assurances to their customers and reduce liability concerns for themselves. Certification programs must change to address the changing marketplace.

So too must the way we fabricate insulating glass units, whether they are a typical or complex product configuration. Knowledge and experience is rapidly leaving the industry and we must find a way to manage that knowledge capital for future generations. IGMA has developed the IG Fabricator Workshop: two days of both classroom and “hands-on” instruction specifically designed for the next generation. The first workshop is being offered March 22 to 24 at the Intertek testing facilities in Plano, Texas. This is a new era in training. No more sitting in a classroom while the instructor changes PowerPoint slides for two days. Trainees will receive in-class theory and practical knowledge that will be transferred to the laboratory setting where they will be able to see the impact of testing firsthand, learn how to take a frost point, do gas measurements, test for sealant adhesion, check desiccant capacity and other quality-control measures. The entire program consists of four sessions, each with its own hands-on component in a laboratory setting. This workshop is given by industry experts who know their stuff and are willing to share their expertise and knowledge using adult education principles developed for Gen X, Gen Y and Millennials to ensure that this expertise gets passed onto the next generation. For further information on the IG Fabricator Workshop, visit the IGMA website at igmaonline.org.


Margaret Webb is the executive director of the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Association.


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