In the space of nearly three decades, GLASS SERVICE (GS) has developed from an entrepreneurial venture to an internationally regarded company.
The background of GS is based on a rich history within the Czech glass industry and specifically the high level of basic and applied research in the glass and ceramic fields in the Czech Republic.
The company’s main operating philosophy is the connection between basic research in the fields of glass melting and advanced laboratory technologies, together with long term technical experiences of the operation and construction of melting furnaces. All of the above mentioned fields were historically well developed, but the close connection of these fields was limited. The basic changes between these fields took place in the first half of the eighties of 20th century, when relatively cheap and flexible computing technologies occurred, which in turn made possible the development of the first mathematical simulation models of glass furnaces.
These new technical conditions enabled the direct integration of scientific knowledge and laboratory techniques into the melting process.
Another basic need for the specific requirement for such solutions occurred in 1984, when the production of glass for colour TVs started in Osvetlovaci Sklo, Valasske Mezirici. The production of this new technology for color TVs brought about new quality requirements. Therefore a working team was created involving specialists from SVUS Hradec Kralove (State Glass Research Institute), VSCHT Prague (Institute of Chemical Technology), CAS Prague (Czech Academy of Science), and VUSU Teplice (Glass Research Institute).
This team was able to resolve and correct the problems of glass quality in quite a new way, using laboratory and computer techniques. During this work, a concept of continual evaluation of the glass furnace operation was applied. Furthermore, data gathering including the exact analysis of glass defects was also evaluated by these advanced mathematical models and used for furnace operation optimization. Most of future founders of GS were members of this team.
In 1990, immediately after new trade laws were issued, Mr. Josef Chmelar registered a new business for service and software in the field of glass named GLASS SOFTWARE (March 1, 1990), subsequently renamed to GLASS SERVICE.
The company offered consulting services in the field of glass melting and laboratory services. In cooperation with VSCHT and CSAV Prague, GS has developed the original software product for glass furnace modelling – GLASS MODEL.
At the same time the EXPERT SYSTEM ESI, which is an analytical tool for glass defect identification, was developed.
In 1991, the company was registered as GLASS SERVICE, spol. s r.o. (limited company), which took over all activities of the previously founded business. At this time, the company organized the 1st Seminar on Mathematical Modeling of Glass Furnaces.
In the same year, marketing agreements with the American company COMBUSTION TEC were established. GLASS SERVICE started its marketing campaign of its products abroad and gained its first export orders. The main GS marketing program was aimed at modeling studies, consultation on glass defects, and the delivery of SW applications (glass batch computing programs etc.).
In 1991 it was also undertook the construction of the B.A.G. glass factory that manufactured art glass.
In 1992 GS continued to market its services on an international level, particularly in western Europe and America. That year, for the first time, GS took part at the trade-fair, GlassTec, in Düsseldorf, Germany.
That same year, operation of the Bohemian Art Glass (B.A.G.) factory in Vsetin, Czech Republic started with 80 employees and a capacity of 2 – 3 tons of melted glass per day. The six full electric pot furnaces that were installed and developed by the Glass Service specialists showed to be very effective in energy consumption, glass quality and durability. This product (electric pot furnace) is still in demand and successfully sold by the GS Engineering Department.
The time period between 1993 – 1995 was marked by an intensive growth of GS, and a company program that has been clearly defined as follows:
- Consulting activities in connection with glass furnace modeling
- Engineering activities including the delivery of electric pot furnaces
- Continuous development of modeling SW of glass melting furnaces and melting tests
- Glass defect analysis
- Basic and applied research of melting and refining process in cooperation with VŠCHT a CAS
During this period our company established agencies in the USA, South Korea, Great Britain, China and India.
GS regularly took part during significant glass congresses and trade-fairs, and several SW modeling systems for glass furnace modeling were sold to glass manufacturing companies in the USA, South Korea and France.
In 1993, the company continued with the tradition of organizing International seminars about mathematical modeling, which were held every two years.
Year 1995 was very important for GS with the first successful implementation of a supervisory control system for glass furnaces, called EXPERT SYSTEM ES II . Delivery of the ES II system has become an important part of the Glass Service offer.
In 1995, GS sold the B.A.G glass factory to fully focus on its present day technological and research programs.
Through 1996 – 1999, GS continued its commercial expansion by opening a new subsidiary GLASS SERVICE, B.V. in the Netherlands (established January 1, 1998), as well as a new agency opened in the Philippines (1997). During this period GS had already been serving customers in more than 30 countries all over the world.
The number of GS employees increased to over 30 people, with individual activities within the company structured as follows:
- A fully equipped research office in cooperation with CAS and VSCHT located in Prague
- Modeling and software development
- Laboratory services
- Expert systems for furnace control ES II
In 1996, there was another significant milestone – the first installation of the ES II system on a float glass production line (USA).
In 1999, GS moved to its own office building.
On January 1, 2000, the company was reestablished as GLASS SERVICE, a.s. (incorporated company), which took over all activities of GLASS SERVICE, spol. s r.o. and their subsidiaries.
In 2001, a subsidiary known as GS Energy & Environment, spol. s r.o. (Teplice, Czech Republic) was established. This daughter company provided glass furnace audits, periscope observations of furnace interiors and furnace infrared surveys.
During the years 2002– 2004, the company growth continued. GS established a joint venture in the Netherlands – GS Improve, B.V. (2002) and had bought a stake in the Japanese company CERAMIC FORUM – GS agency in Japan.
GS also opened subsidiaries in the USA – GLASS SERVICE USA, Inc., as well as an office in China – CZECH GLASS SERVICE INC. Shanghai Representative Office. New agencies were also contracted in Portugal and Italy (2002), Taiwan (2003), Malaysia, Thailand and Russia (2004).
In 2005, GS opened subsidiary in Slovakia – GS Advanced Computational Technologies Ltd. as well as an office in Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic.
In 2008, FlammaTec, spol s. r.o. has been founded as a JV with STG Combustion Control GmbH & Co. KG.
In April 2014, F.I.C. (UK) Limited, based in Penzance, Great Britain, was acquired.
In this year GS started to focus on strengthening its internal growth, emphasizing what they are market leaders in, and divest in what has started to become a commodity. GS divested its GS Energy & Environment (GSEE) furnace endoscopy inspection business, and invested more into furnace energy analyses and benchmarking.
In 2015, GS strengthened its sales network and energy furnace benchmarking know-how acquiring Hans Mahrenholtz, who has been working in this field most of his career.
In 2016, the glass industry became aware of the Industry 4.0 initiative. This concept was created in Germany to summarize how further use of Internet connections and automation can create automatic links between production areas and even between factories with less involvement of human resources. Expert System III including smart furnace cameras has got even more attention due to that new interest from glass industry.
To expand the hardware business, GS engineering, FlammaTec and F.I.C. moved their hardware assembly business into a new engineering hall located near the Headquarters of GS. The hall enabled to pre-assemble and test all equipment before being shipped to the customers. Furthermore it allowed GS laboratory to execute larger melting experiments.
In 2017, GS launched its new website on basis of a content-management-system to suit the needs of the customers today and adding social media.
North and South America sales were strengthened by hiring Gabriel Noboa who has been working as combustion specialist and supplier to the glass Industry all his career.
To support the Industry 4.0 concepts GS started a new Joint Venture company A.SENS to strengthen GS development of own camera hardware and software in order to become the industrial leader in Smart & (near) Infrared furnace camera technology.
Laboratory team was expanded by 3 young members to extend service to the customers with quick responsive and high level glass defect analysis.
GS Raw Materials were ISO 9001 certified.
2018 brings a year of further investment on internal growth adding new installation engineers to the booming Expert System department in Czech Republic and France.
In March 2018, due to increased demand in hybrid and full electric melting in mainland Europe and around the world, F.I.C. (UK) Limited established a new sales and technical support office in Germany – F.I.C. Germany GmbH. This office is led by Managing Director Mr. Christoph Jatzwauk.
The total number of GS employees and people working within the GS group is about 100.
The company has now embarked upon internal structural changes with the aim of these changes to ensure and increase viability, productivity and effectiveness of the company to fulfill our main objective – to provide the best services we can to our customers worldwide.