The glass industry is entering a time of major change that will present challenges and opportunities and drive innovation.
The industry faces increases in design complexity, a push for more stringent codes and a worsening labor shortage. Companies, and the industry at large, will have to adapt and evolve in order to thrive in the quickly changing building environment and moving forward into the new world of design and construction.
The major factor affecting change on the industry is design complexity. The advancements in computer design capabilities has fueled an explosion of creative building design. This has added tremendous complexity to design, construction and assembly.
In addition to the projects and products, the processes themselves are more complex. The building industry is moving toward Building Information Modeling, with design-assist projects becoming more common.
The glass industry needs to prepare for a toughening code environment. On the horizon for codes is increased stringency in base energy codes; increased code adoption and enforcement; and expansion of green codes and standards.
While stringent codes and standards will challenge the industry, they will also drive innovation. The lack of incoming talent into the glass and glazing industry affects companies in all segments and of all sizes. From engineers to installers to transport drivers, the industry needs workers.
Innovation and technology could prove critical in addressing the skilled labor shortage. Robots are being built and tested in construction. They are already being used to build prefabricated assemblies.
If the lack of skilled workers begins to strain the construction industry, automation could move into the jobsite as it has at manufacturing facilities. This could be volatile change for the glass industry in 5 to 10 years.