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Installing sophisticated foreign-made machinery...


May 9, 2008
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Installing sophisticated foreign-made machinery offers more production
capabilities along with a host of technical and regulatory challenges.

Ask Ivan Martintoni, operations manager at ProTemp Glass, what the key to success is for manufacturers in the glass industry and he will quickly tell you that success matches the investment made in the manufacturing facility. This is driven by a commitment to improving capabilities with advanced technology, a commitment that was the foundation for ProTemp’s Concord, Ontario, facility.

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Most of the machinery in ProTemp’s facility was designed and manufactured outside of Canada such as the over-sized MAPPI tempering oven manufactured in Italy.

In developing this modern, highly technical tempering and glass processing operation, Gianfranco Di Marco, president of parent company TORO Aluminum, Martintoni, ProTemp general manager, Dolores Primo and, production manager, Vee Shivprasad set out to create a facility that would exceed the capabilities of any in North America.

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“In order to differentiate in such a competitive market, you need to offer unique production capabilities backed by service delivery. In our business, quality and quick turnaround are key,” says Martintoni. “We were determined to expand our capabilities beyond those available in our marketplace and to do that we needed a facility that could house some of the world’s most advanced, high performance IG unit production and glass processing equipment.”

The site selected for the ambitious project was an existing 100,000 square foot warehouse building, a shell that would be converted into one of the best equipped modern production environments in North America. ProTemp selected partners to work on the project that shared the company’s commitment to quality and service. One of these was Mississauga based Dial One Wolfedale Electric, an industrial/commercial electrical contracting company with specialized in-house expertise and an impressive 33 year history of design/build and industrial equipment installation projects. The company developed a 4000kVA (kiloVolt Amps) power distribution design layout, sub-station and utility requirements for ProTemp, then completed the installation including plant wiring and controls. It also brought the special expertise needed to install sophisticated equipment manufactured off-shore, a task that would come with a host of technical and regulatory challenges.

Most of the state-of-the-art equipment in the ProTemp facility was designed and manufactured outside of the country. Its crowning glory: an over-sized MAPPI tempering oven that is ‘one of a kind’ in North America. Manufactured in Italy, the oven not only produces an absolutely flat, blemish-free glass of remarkable quality and transparency, but can produce sheets of up to 102 inches by 216 inches (2590mm x 5480mm) in size and from four millimetres to 19 millimetres thick.

Foreign-made equipment such as the MAPPI offers the advantage of production specifications and capabilities not available in North America, but with that advantage comes some unique installation challenges. According to Dial One Wolfedale Electric president, Richard Cullis, “Foreign-made equipment is built to different electrical standards all around the world. In Canada, our safety standards are some of the highest. All electrical equipment must meet the Electrical Safety Authority’s (ESA) standards to be approved for operation.”

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ProTemp sought special expertise to install sophisticated equipment manufactured off-shore at its Concord, Ontario, facility. From the left: John Moore, inspector, Metro Territory, ESA; Mike Nazar, service installation manager, Dial One Wolfedale Electric; Richard Cullis, president, Dial One Wolfedale Electric; and Ivan Martintoni, operations manager, ProTemp Glass.

As a recognized authority on electrical safety and chairman of the Ontario Electrical League, Cullis is an industry expert. He cites insufficient wiring insulation, components that fail to meet Canadian standards, incompatibility with North American electrical design and incorrect fuse and circuit breaker ratings as some of the most common challenges associated with the installation of foreign-made machinery. These issues result in failed Inspection Permits that must be rectified before start-up can be approved. For this reason Cullis says, “Choosing a highly skilled electrical contractor with the knowledge and experience to recognize the issues, identify potential hazards and understand and comply with regulatory requirements is a business imperative.”

Counterfeit equipment is becoming an increasingly common problem, as well. International manufacturers can unwittingly purchase counterfeit components that have been mass produced at low cost and equally low quality. Spotting these components and replacing them is vital to avoid the potential for equipment damage, fire or personal injury.

“No one person can know everything,” says Martintoni. “You have to know where your knowledge ends and the knowledge of an expert is needed. Recognizing that and acting on it by selecting the right expertise in the right areas is critical when you undertake a project of this magnitude.”

Cullis could not agree more. “Too often, price is the deciding factor in contractor selection. And while price is very important, the business decision should be based on best value. The lowest price very often will not give you that.”

Establishing the right environment for sophisticated production equipment, particularly that manufactured off-shore, takes combined expertise. Technical experts from equipment manufacturers should be consulted to ensure an optimum operating environment is created for efficient, high quality output. Communication between the electrical contractor, the manufacturer and regulatory bodies, such as the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and the ESA, is vital. In the case of ProTemp’s production equipment, Dial One Wolfedale Electric worked directly with the OEMs and conferred on-site with experts from both CSA and ESA. This ensured standards compliance and approval on final inspection so that all of the new equipment could be installed and operational within the required four month time-frame.

Together, ProTemp and Dial One Wolfedale Electric took the new facility from its humble beginnings as an empty warehouse to a state-of-the-art, automated glass fabricator. Today, the company runs two shifts, 20 hours per day and six days per week. Nearly 50 percent of the glass is converted into sealed units on two FOREL lines. ProTemp’s insulating glass finds predominantly commercial use in the high-rise buildings in and around Toronto. About one third of the glass is processed in the fabricating centre and the remaining 15 percent is worked into spandrels. Since its completion in 2004, ProTemp has added an additional tempering oven, also installed by Dial One Wolfedale Electric.

ProTemp’s decision to partner with a highly skilled electrical contractor in developing the unique power requirements needed to install sophisticated off-shore machinery was the key to establishing a world class production facility.

“You have to stay a step ahead in any business,” he says. “This facility allows us to do that. Sourcing the best equipment and building relationships with quality suppliers is integral to that success.” -end-


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