GPD 2005 Going Strong in Tampere, Finland

By Ellen Chilcoat

TAMPERE, FINLAND-More than 850 fabricators, manufacturers, researchers, suppliers and other professionals involved in the glass industry around the world have gathered in Tampere, Finland for the bi-annual Glass Processing Days (GPD) sponsored by Tamglass.

GPD activities began on Friday, June 17 with the opening ceremonies, in which Pentti Yliheljo, CEO of Kyro Corp. parent of Tamglass, and Jorma Vitkala, chairman of the GPD organizing committee, welcomed attendees.

The opening address from Arthur Ulens, executive vice president of AGC Flat Glass and CEO of Glaverbel, looked at how the shifts and changes in markets can be appealing innovations for the glass industry. The glass industry, he explained, is rapidly changing. "And how we respond to it makes a difference." He also talked about the increasing presence and activity of China in the glass industry.

"China is unique," he said. "China has 130 float lines; there are 160 in the rest of the world."

He continued, "Can a global glass manufacturer really not afford to be present in China?" He then asked the question differently: "Can a glass manufacturer really afford not to view China as a necessity?" He encouraged everyone to consider these points.

Other opening presentations came from Nick Limb with Ducker Research who focused on the global architectural glass market. He talked about the growth of flat glass, market evolution and product evolution. In North America, he said, total glass demand is about 650 million square meters. Of that, 63 percent is for residential/commercial glazing; 26 percent is automotive, and 1 percent is specialty.

Looking at product evolution, Limb said that any product with market benefits takes many years to be adopted.

"The flat glass industry continues to do a great job of developing new products," Limb said. He added that the primary driver of any product continues to be aesthetics and how the product will look in a building.

Ann Vereecke gave the final presentation: Competitive Success Through Supply Chain Management.

Vitkala said he was very pleased with the opening ceremonies and the responses GPD 2005 has been receiving. "I'm pleased with the attendance and very good presentations." He said that the shift to have GPD over the weekend seems to have been a positive one. "It's brought more people. All the top managers from the biggest groups are here; they comprise 35 percent of all the delegates."

GPD Plenary Speaker
Keith Boswell a partner with Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in San Francisco, was today's GPD plenary speaker. He focused on several projects in which his firm has been involved in China and California.

He began with the Legend Phase II project in Beijing, which includes two office towers with a cable wall structure strung between the towers' structural steel walls. Boswell explained that the cable wall structure was designed to resemble a swinging bridge in China.

"One of the interesting things about doing business in China is the rapid speed at which things get built," he said in describing the quick construction turnaround time of the project.

He also talked about the importance of having good relationships with the other parties involved in the jobs.

"I cannot emphasize enough how important it is as an architect to have a supportive client; a client that challenges your work." He explained that because his clients on this job were so supportive, they, as architects, were able to stay very involved throughout the construction project.

Other jobs he talked about were the Poly Plaza and the Jiano Tower, both in China, and the University of California, Merced and the Cathedral of Christ the Light, which are both in California.

In addition to the many sessions offered, GPD is not without relaxation time. There have been cocktail receptions, dinners and other receptions that have provided opportunities to meet friends and colleagues. GPD concludes today with its farewell party tonight.

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