Curtain helps company achieve the best use of available space
June 01, 2013 - MMH Editorial
Pittsburgh Corning is a world leader in innovative glass block products for commercial, institutional, government and residential building applications, and the only U.S.-based manufacturer of glass block. In 2011, the company began a new assembly operation in an under-utilized warehouse at its Port Allegany, Pa., manufacturing location. To prepare the warehouse, the company installed a curtain wall to create a climate-controlled, low-dust environment.
Eric Swartwout, the senior engineer responsible for the mechanical, electrical and environmental activities at the facility, determined that climate curtains (Goff’s Curtain Walls, goffscurtainwalls.com) would improve all three assembly area requirements. Producing Pittsburgh Corning’s multiple block systems requires a room temperature of 60° to 70° Fahrenheit so the assembly cures properly. The temperature difference between the assembly area and warehouse area was often extreme, says Swartwout, and required workers to put on jackets.
It’s also essential to have a low-dust environment in assembly. To control dust, a multi-layer, 0.5-inch thick epoxy coating was applied over the assembly area’s floor. The remaining floor area of the warehouse remained concrete. To prevent dust from migrating between the clean and uncontrolled sides of the warehouse, Swartwout knew he wanted a flexible rather than a fixed wall.
“Sometimes we manufacture very large assemblies, or we may have to move equipment from one side to the other,” Swartwout says. “We wanted the ability to move an item that would be much too large to fit through a standard door. Also, we wanted the option to re-size the assembly area if necessary.”
The new curtains feature a unique overlapping panel design that enables the curtains to maintain an insulation factor of R-5 throughout the curtain, not just “non-seam” areas. If needed, an R-20+ factor can be achieved by installing multiple layers. The fire-resistant curtains come in 60-inch-wide panels and were customized to 30 feet high. To provide easy access between the two sides of the warehouse, the curtain uses an optional galvanized steel track and roller system.
“The curtains were light enough that in-house staff were able to install it without having to hire contractors,” adds Swartwout.
Eight gas heaters originally heated the entire warehouse area. More than 30 years old and destined to be replaced with an energy efficient system, five of these heaters are not being used. After installing the curtains, Pittsburgh Corning now only operates the three heaters on the assembly side of the warehouse, for a 60% reduction in energy costs.