Last Updated 16 Apr 2020

Likely Impact of MIS on the Global Glass Industry

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Likely Future Impacts of MIS on the Glass Industry China looks set to dominate various markets in the near future (Hughes, M (2011) Week 3 “IS in a Changing World”, MS102, National University of Ireland Galway, unpublished) The glass industry should be a target for them. China is the best in the world for glass production and consumption. China’s flat glass production accounts for 40 per cent of the world today, which is about 38 million tons per year, and the processed glass industry is improving quickly. (Wenyi, M. O Professor of the Chinese Ceramic Society, “Review and Prospect of the Glass Industry in China”)

According to incomplete statistics from 2004, the production scale of insulated glass reached 130 million square metres, and production amounted to 45 million square metres. China’s glass machinery sector has become a new boom industry, and although the Chinese glass industry has made great steps, there is still a large gap between China and advanced countries abroad. China’s flat glass industry consumes more natural resources, energy costs are higher, technology and equipment levels are relatively low, product mix is not feasible, and the processed glass ratio is low.

There are lots of manufacturers, but the production scale is small, industry concentration is low, and research and development capitalization is weak. (Wenyi, M. O Professor of the Chinese Ceramic Society, “Review and Prospect of the Glass Industry in China”). Innovations in future technology within the glass industry are going to be vital for firms within the industry to utilize if they are going to stay competitive taking into consideration the probable advancement of the Chinese Industry. The US glass industry alone spends 1. billion a year on energy and (energy costs) accounts for 14% of the cost of production (Ernest Worrel et al 2008). This leaves huge scope for firms to enable energy saving and thus cost saving technology. A report entitled “Energy Efficiency Improvement and Cost Saving Opportunities for the Glass Industry” an Energy Star Guide for Energy and Plant Managers by Ernst Worrell, Christina Galitsky, Eric Masanet, and Wina Graus we can clearly see that these cost saving technologies are either there to be utilized by firms within the industry or are very near to that stage.

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Oscillating combustion is currently being tested by the Gas Technology Institute (GTI). This technology forces the oscillation of the burner fuel to create successive, fuel-rich and fuel-lean zones within the flame. It also reduces NOx emissions. Reported fuels savings are 2 to 5% and reduced NOx emissions 30 to 50%. The Segmented Melter works as the batch is melted in an electric melter, after which the cullet is added in a separate oxy-fuel fired melter. Although on the plus side emissions will be lowered maintenance to the seg-melter is high as it only has a useful life of 15 years and requires repairs at least once every 3 years.

However, there is interest in future improvements of the seg-melter to develop a more energy-efficient glass melting process (TNO, The Netherlands; Alfred University, New York). Under development by Tamglass, Finland, a new HSC™ high-speed convection heater transfers more of the heat by convection (over 50%) using a lengthwise system of heating elements in the furnace. Tamglass claims production increases of as much as 40%, lower energy costs, and increased process reliability (Tamglass 2003). Limited steam use in the glass production process limits the use of cogeneration or combined heat and power generation in the glass industry.

An alternative may be the use of an air-bottoming cycle. The average energy savings were estimated at 10% with an estimated payback periods of 3 to 4 years (at price conditions in The Netherlands). The recycling of in-house glass waste is challenging as impurities in the waste material often leads to a high rate of filament breakage in fiber forming processes. It has been estimated that around 260,000 tons of glass waste are generated each year in US. and that in-house recycling of this waste would save the US glass industry over $7 million per year in avoided nergy and waste disposal costs (ANL 2003). Argonne National Laboratory has developed a glass fiber recycling process based on thermal treatment that is estimated to have a potential payback period of 2 years. One method that firms within the glass industry could do to increase productivity, efficiency and increased profits is to employ improved Information Systems by bringing in Siemens or other specialists to review their processes in the near future as Siemens offer services that will improve IS and reduce energy costs.

As a reduction in energy usage and improved production processes will reduce the cost of production firms can benefit in not only the long run but the short to medium term as well. Practically the likes of Waterford Wedgewood and Galway Crystal have been in the business of glass production for centuries and therefore may be unlikely/unwilling to let in outsiders to review their processes new firms in the industry may see it as an ideal way to increase their competitiveness in the market reasonably quickly.

For it’s customers in the glass industry, Siemens offers a package of services to analyze and optimize energy consumption of plant. They will bring in specialists to examine the production lines for weak points, develop suitable counter measures and, where necessary, also supply the appropriate financing concepts. In many cases, just improving the exploitation of existing equipment will lead to considerable savings. Siemens also offers services that will achieve projected ongoing energy savings of three to five percent per year over the next five to six years. (Optimum use Energy solutions for the glass industry from Siemens)

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