A day in the life of a glass worker
The combination of technology and the daily work inside the glass industry has created a brotherhood. With these two tools you can create anything planned. I have been working with Mammen Glass in Irving, Texas, for six years. This is my first job in the glass industry and I have learned everything I know here.
My typical day begins around 6 a.m. After a quick breakfast of coffee and cookies, I get to work at 7 a.m. Every day, I learn something new at my job. Yesterday, for instance I learned about a new system called Simplicity. The system will cut down on our use of paper and make everything available on the computer. I also did optimized cutting, programmed data for the I-Mac, or Intermac machine, and checked the drawings and orders for optimizing.
Optimized cutting is taking all the sizes of pieces of glass and entering them into a computer-aided design program to find the best cutting yield for a sheet of glass. It also groups the thicknesses. The I-Mac is a computer numerically controlled machine that we can program to cut, polish and fabricate, all in one operation.
In setting up the jobs for my crew of 20, I found some drawing problems with orders being entered wrong; or maybe the bugs in the new system messed up the drawings. I took the orders and drawings back to sales to solve the problems.
Later, I ate lunch in the break room with my co-workers. After grabbing a quick hamburger washed down with a Coke, it was time for more optimizing and learning the new system. I finished work at 7:30 p.m.
My first experience in this industry was loading and helping wherever I was needed. Eventually, I learned to operate the crane that transports sheets of glass or mirrors to the cutting table. Working in the cutting line, I learned to operate the cutting table and to optimize glass. Optimizing is something that I really enjoy doing because I can work with different shapes. Each new figure is a challenge to make it exactly how the client wants. This is where the brotherhood of technology and manual labor come together.
Mammen has a cutting table where you can scan any template or pattern, creating the shape you want. The template can have the actual dimensions or you can manipulate the pattern after you scan it. Then, you export it to AutoCAD where I make corrections to small errors that the scanned figure may have. I also enlarge the figure so that after it is polished it has the exact dimensions as the template. It can be cut on clear glass from 3⁄32 to 3⁄4, inch or on mirror of any width or pattern glass. After it is cut, I use the figure, scanned and export it to a computer. The glass is already cut to this shape and the I-Mac does the polishing and fabrications. There are a lot of different polishes out there, but we focus on a pencil edge and a flat edge. The I-Mac edge has a brilliant shine and is great to look at. This is also used for making shower doors and structural doors. A lot of these doors are free-standing with edge exposed; that is where you see the polish.
I have learned a lot about glass including the fact that you have to work very carefully with it, and you should follow all the security norms since many accidents can occur where you can lose body parts or even your life. But it is my life now, and I love it.