How A-frames offer safe hands for glass companies

Window companies like Anglia, Everest and Safestyle manufacture hundreds of thousands of windows each year. Other companies produce glass products such as glass doors, glass tables, splashbacks and mirrors. These companies rely on A-frames for their storage needs.

Most homes and commercial buildings have glass windows. New buildings need windows and older ones need windows replacing when the glass is broken or the window frames are rotten. Single-glazed buildings upgrade to double glazing to increase their energy efficiency. Many buildings have interior glass features such as mirrors and glass doors. The high demand for glass products keeps glass companies busy.

The benefits of A-frames

A major issue with glass is that it is fragile, and easily broken if dropped. Glass can be scratched if not handled carefully. You can buy toughened glass that will not easily shatter, but this is more expensive and not cost effective for normal use.

A-frames are the ideal way to store glass sheets. When made for glass companies, they can be static or have wheels if the glass needs to be transported around the factory or warehouse. They are made from strong but light tubular steel and have wooden slats that prevent scratches and damage. Several sheets of glass or window frames can be stored in A-frames.

A-frames get their name from their profile, which is in the shape of the letter A. This shape is a basic structure found in many objects including ladders, saw horses, tents and bridges. The London Eye has a large A-frame on one side that supports the giant wheel, and even houses can be based on the A-frame shape.

A-frames are ideal for storing glass, but can be used for anything else that comes in large sheets.

Bespoke A-frames

A-frames for glass companies are made in Britain by specialist manual handling and storage equipment manufacturers. They are usually produced in small batches by skilled metalworkers who shape and weld tubular steel to form the A-frame. No expensive and time consuming retooling is required to produce non-standard equipment. If a standard model of A-frame does not fit the exact requirements of a glass company bespoke frames can be constructed. A-frame can be made in custom sizes, or their basic design modified to suit a particular storage requirement.

A quality storage equipment manufacturer will have an in-house designer who can get together with the glass company to create a bespoke solution. After initial discussions, a prototype A-frame will be fabricated ready for testing. Once the design has been finalized, a number of bespoke A-frames can be supplied. Bespoke A-frames are cost-effective as they should not cost significantly more than a standard A-frame.

As well as A-frames, manufacturers supply fabrication tables for window construction and storage solutions for lengths of PVC, wood or steel used to constrict windows and doors.

How to store glass

Glass is generally stored vertically on its edge. Glass should be stored in dry conditions, as wet glass can slip and is difficult to handle.

Glass should not be stored in contact with substances harder than itself, such as concrete, stone or ferrous metals. Glass can have cladding made from felt, rubber, or plastic to help cushion and support it.

Many glass companies use nails and screws, and these must be kept away from glass as they could cause scratches.

A-frames should have an incline of between three inches and six inches from the vertical bar. Any more and the bottom sheet could have too much weight and the sheets will be more difficult to separate.

The A-frame needs to support the glass as evenly as possible, and should support the total length of the sheet. Uneven support could cause breakage when a full pack of sheets is stored.

A-frames containing many sheets of glass are heavy, so it is vital that the floor can support the weight. This is particularly important for floors above ground level. The A-frame needs to spread the weight of the glass evenly.

The size of the A-frame is dependent on the size of glass that has to be stored on it, and the number of sheets. A-frame manufacturers make sure that all their racks are suitable for the intended load. When designing a bespoke A-frame, the designers have to calculate load-bearing data to make sure that they are fit for the job.

Areas where glass is stored need to be free from slip and trip hazards. If glass is stored outside in windy conditions, it must be secured, as strong winds could cause glass to move and fall over.

Some A-frames can store glass on both sides. If these frames are used, they should be evenly loaded on each side.

Some other points to consider are:

• Glass should never be stored by leaning against walls – always use an A-frame
• All safe glass storage procedures should apply equally to off-site and on-site storage
• All glass should be clearly visible to prevent people accidentally bumping into it
• Always make sure that broken glass is cleared away and safely disposed of

There are injury risks in glass storage areas from people hitting it, and from broken glass. Accidents can be minimised by using the correct A-frames and training staff in the safe handling of glass.

Glass alternatives

Glass has been used for windows since Roman times and most buildings still use the material. However, there are plastic alternatives which are stronger than glass and do not shatter. Plastic is 50% lighter than glass, and some commercial buildings now use plastic for their windows.

Polycarbonate is also a glass substitute that is often used for bus shelters, schools and psychiatric facilities. It is mainly specified for its superior strength and shatterproof qualities. It is more expensive than glass so tends to only be used where there is a risk of vandalism or other attempts at deliberately damaging the surface.

Plastic, acrylic and polycarbonate, like glass, are available in large sheets. A-frames are suitable storage equipment for these glass alternatives.

A-frames were first made a very long time ago, but remain the ideal solution for safely storing large sheets. It’s not surprising that glass companies rely on them to keep their glass safe.

Posted by Mark
10th January 2019
Windows

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