Case Study

Glass Times visits Ravensby Glass’s new state-of-the art facility

Glass Times visited Scotland’s largest independent glass company, which has recently opened a new state-of-the-art facility containing advanced glass processing machinery.

It is said that Dundee is famous for the three Js: Jute, Jam and Journalism. While jam making and journalism (Dundee is the home of DC Thomson & Co, publishers of the Dandy and the Beano) are still going strong, the jute industry has all but disappeared. In its place, Dundee now boasts Scotland’s largest independent manufacturer and processor of flat glass products. Ravensby Glass is privately owned by Malcolm, Ogilvie and Co, one of Dundee’s oldest companies, founded in 1847.

Ravensby Glass began life in 1985 as part of Tayside Windows, a local retail company. It supplied Tayside with sealed units on an exclusive basis. Ravensby subsequently split from Tayside in order to supply other local companies as an independent supplier and moved to its current site in Dundee in 1994. Since then Ravensby Glass hasn’t looked back. Its original site in Fowler Road has been extended five times and now has a capacity of 80,000ft².

The original factory manufactures a diverse range of products using some of the highest specification glass processing machinery currently available. It is this diversity, coupled with a programme of continuous investment, which allowed Ravensby to flourish during the last recession.

Ravensby Glass’s portfolio of products includes Kitemarked sealed units in several formats including standard double and triple glazed units, incorporating soft coat, low-e, solar control, self-cleaning, laminated and decorative glasses, along with argon and krypton gas filling.

It is also a major glass processor and provides glass products for a wide range of applications including furniture, shopfitting and museum showcases. Its own brand ‘Colourlite’ range is a made-to-measure painted coloured glass, ideal for kitchen and bathroom splashbacks and as designer wall coverings and facades. Completing the range, the company also supplies fire-resistant glass and integral blinds.

For more than 20 years, Ravensby has worked with Jotika Software, which provides software solutions to run its ordering processing and glass processing systems. A few years ago Ravensby made a decision to upgrade its ordering and processing software – Jotika’s Gtrak3 software. Gtrak3 is a comprehensive sales order processing, production control and monitoring system specifically designed for the flat glass industry.

Sales order processing handles the entire business process from start to finish. The business is controlled from a single multi-user database solution, and tools are provided at each stage to streamline and control an order’s progress from entry to completion.

Scott Duncan, commercial director of Ravensby Glass, said:

“The new system was an ideal opportunity to increase productivity. The production planning department now has much better visibility of forthcoming workload and capacity and can, therefore, do its job much better with the tools provided. These show a visual representation of the demand and capacity and enables the production controller to ‘drag and drop’ jobs into different batches, to even up the demand on each department and maximise the optimisation of glass and decrease glass wastage.”

Following this installation, Ravensby further upgraded its invoicing processing software. The upgrade facilitates the sending of invoices as email attachments in PDF format. The response from Ravensby’s customers has been very positive. There are also obvious environmental benefits in using paperless systems.

When Ravensby’s original site, ‘Fowler Road’ hit capacity, the company took the bold step of opening a brand new additional 40,000ft² manufacturing facility just half a mile away on the same estate.

The factory was planned and developed with the specific intention of processing high specification coated glass for the commercial sector. The building was totally transformed into a state-of-the-art glass processing plant. It is fitted out with advanced glass processing machinery, including two fully automatic Hegla cutting lines for float and laminated glass, with auto-loading, laser marking and ‘Remaster’ partial plate storage systems; a fully automatic Bystronic IG line with robotic sealing; an Ashton Industrial high-performance arrissing line with fully automatic batching and furnace feed; a Glaston FC500 tempering furnace; and a Torgauer heat soaking oven.

The addition of this factory increased capacity by 2,000 high specification large-sized commercial units per week. Most importantly, it can also process much larger sheet sizes (4500 x 2700) than previously possible.

Jotika software is at the heart of Ravensby’s order processing and optimisation. Its OptimiserX software controls work preparation for manufacturing across two factories from a single interface. It also controls both Hegla cutting lines in a single optimising run and integrates with the Hegla ReMaster storage system to ensure that all offcuts/ residual plates are made available for reuse.

OptimiserX also allows all offcuts to be presented in priority of oldest to newest to ensure that products do not exceed their life cycle, thus avoiding waste. Offcuts are always used first before virgin stock as a default. This keeps valuable space available in the ReMaster storage racks. OptimiserX filler technology is used to minimise offcut generation and Delivery Manager is used to manage UK wide deliveries across both factories.

Kevin Small, Ravensby’s production director has overseen the installation of Jotika’s new systems.

“Jotika software allows us to have a seamless operation at multiple locations,” Kevin said. “Their software integrates work orders, pricing and invoicing, including built-in accounts for posting, tracking, ageing, sales reports and statement printing. “Using OptimiserX, we can control different machinery including storage systems, cutting lines and offcuts of different glass types available for reuse, allowing us to get the most out of each sheet of glass.”

Joitika’s John Gold said:

“This was a really exciting project for Jotika, as this is the first Hegla ReMaster installed in the UK with multi positions within a single slot, meaning up to four times the amount of offcut pieces needed to be managed. “The recent expansion of our development team also enabled us to exclusively dedicate resource to this project. As a result, the project went very smoothly. The main aim was to ensure that manufacturing for both factories could be easily controlled from a single interface. Furthermore, the offcut management for two multi-positional ReMasters, at the new plant, could also be easily managed from a single interface. “We achieved the key objectives of this project and are pleased that Ravensby are now using the Optimiser X ReMaster offcut priority in line with our OptimiserX Filler technology to ensure that the storage of offcuts remains practical.”

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