For Andreas Mehlqvist, broken glass is just part of the daily scene. He is Bus Stop Manager for SL bus operator Nobina in Stockholm, and is responsible for over 4000 individual bus stops. He has also been Project Manager for a pilot project involving a changeover to unbreakable Hammerglass in around 20 of the bus shelters within Nobina’s Södertörn area.
– We selected those shelters that were most vulnerable and where we found we were replacing glass on an almost weekly basis. Since installing Hammerglass in September, we haven’t needed to change a single panel! We reckon we have saved upward of 100.000 SEK a month (10.000 €) on these 20 shelters alone – a really incredible figure!
Hammerglass is a specially coated polycarbonate – 300 times stronger than glass. In spite of the fact that the company behind the product, Hammerglass AB, has produced special mountings for fitting the panels into bus shelters, there have been problems in getting the product out onto the market.
– When big companies buy in toughened glass panels for bus shelters, the price is exceptionally low. Their Purchasing Managers are governed by the Public Procurement Act and are obliged to buy in at the lowest possible price – so they can keep strictly to their budgets. Any breakage and replacement that occurs comes under the operating budget, and that’s a matter for a different department, of course, says Ulf Bergström, speaking on behalf of the Hammerglass Infrastructure business division.
– Our panels are almost twice as expensive as toughened glass, so we do not get very far when we try to discuss these things. Unfortunately, the fact that they pay for themselves after the initial breakage is neither here nor there. We have tried to persuade most of the large public transport authorities, but their answer is always the same – we are too expensive, he continues. As a taxpayer, you get a bit fed up, of course, when these people just can’t manage to think outside the box. There is simply no co-ordination between purchasing and operations, otherwise they’d have fitted unbreakable glass in all the at-risk shelters. After SL accepted us as an alternative supplier, we are now extremely pleased with the initiative that Nobina has taken, and we hope more operators will follow suit.
Andreas Mehlqvist of Nobina was himself sceptical to begin with.
– Initially, we were afraid the panels would get plastered with graffiti, or else kicked out, but the really strong mountings from Hammerglass have meant the panels have remained firmly in place, and even where graffiti has been daubed over them it’s been easy to remove from the glossy surface, he says. We also thought that Hammerglass might burn, but that is clearly not the case. It is acrylic plastic that burns – Hammerglass doesn’t.
Andreas Mehlqvist further states that Nobina will ensure that more bus shelters are fitted with Hammerglass.
– It’s a lot less unpleasant for staff to clean up graffiti than to tramp around in broken glass carrying heavy sheets of glass. And in addition to the working environment and the cost saving, there’s also a third important factor that is at least as important, namely the fact that our customers can now wait for their buses in clean, undamaged bus shelters, says Anders Mehlquist, who believes several operators will follow Nobina’s initiative in protecting their bus shelters.
– So we are very pleased, and we will be happy for other operators to come and visit us on a study trip, he comments in conclusion.
Hammerglass Automotive continues its journey in the European construction world and the next stop on the road towards safer driving environments and better operating economy is Germany.
Swedish glassmaker Hammerglass is now continuing its expansion and has during the early autumn established itself with subsidiaries in Germany. Hammerglass Automotive, which is the market leader in the construction machinery segment, already exists with its own companies in Sweden, Norway and Denmark and included within the expansion plans are additional countries in Europe and the rest of the world.
Responsible for the business development in Germany will be Oliver Afsah, who left his position at the company Thyssenkrupp in early September to land at Hammerglass GmbH's Nuremberg office. Already today, Hammerglass is established in Germany as a product, but without its own sales organization. Although Hammerglass glass systems are available for most brands and models, there are still gaps in the range.
– Hammerglass' goal is to be available to all machine manufacturers shortly - either as an option when the customer buys a new machine, or in the aftermarket when a screen is broken or if you need to secure the machine for tougher workouts, says Oliver about the investment in Germany.
Oliver will be responsible for the German operations and is currently in an intensive phase of product training and marketing planning. Oliver will put a lot of energy into building relationships with Hammerglass partners and as a German speaker, communication will be easier.
– It will be a great advantage that I am both where the customer is geographically and also has the language as a mother tongue, says Oliver.
What are your biggest challenges with Hammerglass Automotive in Germany?
– To make the market aware that there are no alternatives to Hammerglass, Oliver concludes with a smile.
Around Europe, a lot is happening on the driver's safety front. Earlier this spring, the Norwegian State Roads Agency introduced new tough rules for the protection standard that applies to the construction machinery used on their construction sites. More countries are expected to follow in the same tracks as risks in the machinists' work environment are at the center. The protection standard used in Norway and Sweden is called Protection Class 3 - RABS and is a collection standard consisting of several different European sub-standards and standards. Nothing new then, just a new combination requirement. Hammerglass is one of the few companies that meets the tough requirements and that welcomes more standards in the field.
Bengt Nilsson, CEO of Hammerglass AB comments on the RABS requirements:
– It is good for the industry if there are clear requirements and standards that regulate what is the right protection. This makes it easier for contracting companies to create a safe working environment”, says Bengt Nilsson.
In addition to Safety Class 3 - RABS being a protection for the individual machine driver, Hammerglass protection solutions also offer several financial advantages for construction machine owners. With Hammerglass in the cab, downtime in production is limited or avoided as window replacements are made less frequently. Machines that do not run in high-risk environments also benefit from the Hammerglass system, especially with an add-on Sacrificial Screen. When the sacrificial screen is worn by gravel wear and propelling stone chips, it is replaced without having to make more in-depth window replacements in the cab. The savings with replacing a sacrificial screen many times greater than replacing an ordinary windscreen.
Hammerglass AB has landed the company’s biggest order in years with a request for bullet-proof and explosion-proof windows and doors worth 1.8 million EUR. The order was received by Hammerglass Property and confirms the company’s leading position within the area of security glass.
– Unfortunately, the very strict secrecy requirements mean that we cannot disclose the identity of either the customer or the risk object, but I can confirm that installation will be carried out during Q3 and Q4 this year, and that it involves upgrading a property in Sweden, says the Head of Hammerglass Property, Torbjörn Timmermans.
– We have for a long time offered ballistic-resistant solutions which, thanks to the characteristics of Hammerglass, are much thinner and lighter than traditional bullet-proof panels. Because we are also able to manufacture bullet-proof insulating glass, a lower weight and thinner glass package are of extra significance.- Besides supplying complete window and door systems, we can also handle everything from fixing solutions to turnkey installation. In consultation with the customer we establish the relevant threat level, make a thorough risk assessment of the risk object (Security Assessment) and finally present the customer with a solution.
– There are still many that believe it is enough just to have a protective film on the inside of the pane in order to withstand terror attacks. Unfortunately, both experience and testing demonstrate that not even films of the right protection class can help to any significant extent. What is more, in 9 out of 10 cases it is not possible to attach the film to the window frame in the correct way, which means that the entire glass package is forced into the room in a violent attack. We live in a world where the risk of terrorist attacks is constantly on the rise, and more and more understand the importance of having the right type of protection in case anything should happen.
Bengt Nilsson, MD of Hammerglass AB in Förslöv, now sees that further investment is needed in both production equipment and personnel in order to cope with the increased demand.
– We increased our turnover by 80% from 2016 to 2017 and by the end of February this year we had already reached our projected turnover for 2018, says Bengt Nilsson. This is of course extremely gratifying, but we’ve been laying the groundwork for this over many years and that is what has made our current market presence and volume increase possible. Exports account for around 40% of the turnover, and even though our business in Sweden is growing, we can still see that the primary potential for increases in sales of our products lies in exports. And we are not just active in the Property division, but also in Infrastructure and Automotive. These, too, are showing excellent growth, which means that the question of taking on new staff will arise during the year, says Bengt Nilsson in conclusion.