The following was submitted by Kevin Green Chairman of the Glass Information Special Interest Group to the International Congress on Glass held in Edinburgh in July 2001
The glass industry is relatively poorly served in terms of information sources when compared to the metals, chemicals, plastics or even ceramics industries. They have many journals, associations and databases dealing with every aspect of their industries, whereas we in the glass industry have to make do with a fraction of this.
Our paper today aims to give an overview of the information that is available to the glass industry. I come from a flat glass company, and my co-author from the National Manufacturer’s federation, British Glass, so hopefully we can cover all types of glasses.
We will be looking at all aspects of information provision, not just technical, but also commercial sources – although these tend not to be specific to the glass industry, and sometimes a considerable amount of digging is required to obtain the required information.
We start with technical journals as this is where you are most likely to find up to date new information about a topic. There are a number of these journals published around the world, covering all aspects of glass technology. We don’t intend to cover them all here, but the majority are listed in the glass information sources.
Another important source of new information is the conference proceedings. This is most often where announcements of new developments are made. There are a number of regular glass conferences, besides the one you are currently attending, including the European Society of Glass Science and Technology conference held normally every two years, and others such as the International Symposium on New Glass, the Glass Problems conference, Glass Processing Days and so on. Usually the proceedings of these conferences are published separately, but occasionally a journal will publish papers over a few months or in a special issue.
If you are working on the cutting edge of technology and need to know what your competitors are doing in your area of interest, then the patent literature will give you the most up to date information. New developments will be patented months, or more likely years before anything is published in the open literature. To find these patents requires a certain amount of specialised knowledge, although it is becoming easier with the advent of web-based searching. Most national Patent bodies issue a regular listing of patent applications (with the exception of the US – although this may be changing soon), and it is possible to scan these listings for items of interest. Obtaining patents is now a very simple business using the internet, and full patent specifications from most countries can be on your desktop within an hour at the most.
This is something of a grey area – in fact this sort of documentation, reports, theses, trade literature and so on is called Grey literature in the information world, because they are notoriously difficult (a) to track down and (b) to obtain. There are databases dedicated to this sort of information which I will mention later. The biggest source of published reports literature are the US government and their contractors, who publish thousands of reports each year on all manner of subjects. Once the report has been identified, it is easily obtained from the British Library, or other national body.
Books on glass technology are fairly rare beasts, very few are published – maybe only one or two per year. Some recent ones are listed, but one or two deserve special mention. The ‘bible’ of glassmaking is of course the ‘Handbook of Glass Manufacture’ by Fay Tooley. The most recent (and last) edition is the 3rd, published in 1984 in two volumes. This book describes the various types of glassmaking from raw materials to finished products, giving essential data, diagrams, equations and figures for each of the processes. The book is a complete ‘how to’ of glassmaking. It is published by Ashlee Publishing in the US, who also publish a number of specialist guides on decorating, forming, joining, raw materials and so on, as well as publishing the journals Glass Industry, and Glass Digest.
Basic glass science is covered in two relatively recent books, ‘Glass Science’ by Doremus, and ‘Glass, nature, structure and properties’ by Scholze. Basic chemistry is covered in ‘Chemistry of Glasses’ by Paul, and the engineering aspects of glass manufacture is described in the ‘Glass Engineering Handbook’ by McLellan and Shand.
These books concentrate on the properties of the final glasses rather than the manufacturing process. Possibly the most useful of all is the ‘Handbook of Glass Properties’ by Bansal and Doremus – nearly 700 pages of tables and graphs covering virtually any property you want for a wide range of compositions. Somewhat older but still useful is ‘Properties of Glass’ by Morey. This is a cross between a text book and a data book, giving a lot of background theory for the data presented.
The book by Mazurin ‘Handbook of Glass Data’ lists vast quantities of data, ternary silicate systems are covered in part C. The other parts deal with non-silicate systems.
Not quite a book, but certainly worth a mention is the Interglad database on CD-ROM from the New Glass Forum. This lists over 150,000 compositions of glasses, glass ceramics and ceramics, also giving properties for each where known. You can search on any range of properties, or range of compositions in order to identify a candidate material – or you can look up a known glass and find its composition and properties. The data is taken from the databooks mentioned above, plus journal articles which mention new compositions, patents, and manufacturers datasheets. The only drawback is the cost, which is rather high.
Standards are a vital source of information for industry. Expanding world markets, new materials, processes and customer demands drive the need for information on product specific legislation. It is important for manufacturers to be able to find all the standards, regulations and other documentation that may impact their business. It can also be a daunting task for the uninitiated!
“Where can I find a European standard covering …?” Sounds like a fairly normal, sane question, sometimes it even is – but most of the time it certainly is not.
I have listed the major European standards bodies, together with contact details, however, if you don’t know exactly what you want the chances are you won’t get it. The operators on the end of the line are very helpful and will promptly send what you ask for – some may even offer a key-word search, but their experience is simply that of a salesperson and if you are unlucky enough not to have a reference you could end up spending money on something totally unrelated and still be without the standard you really want.
When looking for a standard, possibly the best place to start is the organisation’s website, and begin by doing your own key-word search. The British Standards Organisation is a good place to start, from wherever you are in Europe – if you do find the one you want and you have that elusive reference number, then they can advise you if there is a European or International alternative. It may also be that the standard is not in your native language, in which case the BSI Organisation have their own translations department and could supply just what you want.
If you’re not lucky enough to find it there, then the next step, if you are UK-based that is, would be the local reference library who have most of the European standards catalogues on cd-rom. If you visit personally, you may also be able to look at the standard, as many are held in full on cd-rom. Another excellent source of information are University libraries, some have vast collections of world-wide standards, specialising in various fields. Even if you are based in Europe, you could access this service by a simple telephone call. We have listed some very useful numbers of city libraries who are willing to help on the printouts.
If it is not possible to use these sources, or you are not having any success, then go directly to the top and seek out a Trade Federation. Amongst the printouts is a list of European Trade Federations concerned with glass. The Federation are quite likely to have members of staff who sit on the standards committees. If not, we have still found they are of great assistance – even if it’s just to tell you that no such standard exists! A request from one of British Glass’ members was recently received who had spent many days searching in vain for Mexican standards. British Glass contacted the Mexican standards body on his behalf and confirmed that the standards he was looking for didn’t exist. He could have spent much longer, and more to the point a lot of money going around in circles. Most European trade federations are extremely helpful even if you are not in membership – and if they make a charge, it will be a minimum. In fact, British Glass would be happy to help if you are struggling – the number’s on the list!
For American standards, there is a help-line set up at the ASTM’s European office at Hitchin, Herts, details are also listed, or you might be able to access the standard at your local University library.
Some standards bodies offer an “alerting” service for a small fee. How this works is you give them a list of the standards you are interested in and they produce a monthly update, sent directly to you telling you of any amendments or changes.
If you are still struggling at this stage and drawing a blank everywhere else then try contacting a manufacturer working in your field of interest – they ought to know what standards they are working to – its certainly worth a try and you have nothing to lose!
Secondary sources are sources which take in primary sources, i.e. journals, patents, conference papers and so on, and repackage them in the form of listings. They usually comprise a bibliographic reference – title, author, journal reference, plus an abstract and indexing terms. These abstract journals are published regularly with both subject and author indexes to enable the searcher to find relevant papers quickly, without having to subscribe to all the journals.
Again, the glass industry is fairly poorly served in this area. Most technical areas have abstract journals dedicated to them – Chemical abstracts, and Metals abstract for instance, but apart from British Glass’s Glass Digest, and the abstracts published by the SGT journals in the UK, there is no specific glass abstract journal. The Ceramics Abstracts from the American Ceramic Society are probably the most comprehensive with respect to glass manufacture, and Chemical Abstracts also cover the chemistry aspects of glassmaking.
A spin off from abstracting journals are the online databases, which enable the user to search an abstract journal a lot faster, using either a remote computer link, the internet or a CD-ROM player.
To access the online databases, virtually all are available from database systems vendors on the internet. These are also listed in the handout.
Ceramics Abstracts is available as is Chemical abstracts, the biggest of them all with around 14 million abstracts available online. The glass industry does actually have a dedicated database available on these systems, even though there is no corresponding paper abstract journal. This database is called Glassfile, and is available on one system – EINS. It has the slight disadvantage to English speaking users in that it is primarily in French, although in recent years all titles have an English translation. However, to be sure of retrieving all relevant records, keywords should be entered in both English and French.
I mentioned report literature earlier, and the difficulty of identifying it. There is one database which covers US reports literature, called NTIS, available on most of the systems, and another covering Europe, called SIGLE available on STN.
These systems aren’t free of course. On some systems you have to pay an annual service fee, and then you pay for time connected to their system plus the cost of references retrieved and viewed. To give you an idea of costs, searching Glassfile in EINS costs £2.64 for each session, plus £0.97 per item retrieved. So an average search generating around 25-30 records would cost you around £25-£30. You will then of course have to pay to obtain the full papers if you require them.
Commercial and Business Information
That is a brief summary of technical sources, and we now move on to commercial and business information. The first port of call if you are looking for suppliers of equipment, raw materials or services for the industry are the industry directories. They are usually spin-offs from trade journals, and can be invaluable sources of information. There are only a few of these glass industry directories, so I’ll mention them all.
For the UK, the Glass Age & Window Construction Directory lists products and services for the glazing industry, listing suppliers of all types of flat glass, glass processing machinery, fixtures and fittings and so on.
The European Glass Directory and Buyers Guide covers the whole glass industry from raw materials through to finished products, including all associated plant and machinery suppliers.
The Glass Industry Directory issue is similar to the European directory, but is world-wide in coverage. It is not so detailed as the European directory, but does give a fairly comprehensive listing of worldwide companies.
American Glass Review, Glass Factory Directory issue is a listing of all US glass plants of all types, with indexes on State, product and tradenames. However, you have to subscribe to the American Glass Review to receive it, as it is only available to subscribers.
Business information tends to be non-industry specific, that’s to say that in general finding business information on glass companies is the same as finding business information on any other type of company. Outlined below are the various sources.
Basic company details are listed in the various national Kompass publications, also available via the online systems and on CD-ROM.
Sources of more detailed financial information are the large credit checking companies such as Dun and Bradstreet, who will give you recent financial performance plus a credit rating on virtually any company, but this comes at a price.
A cheaper route are the Annual reports published by most companies, and a large number of these are now available to view or download via the internet for free.
The industry directories mentioned earlier are a good source of product information, but if they don’t cover what you’re looking for, a general directory such as Kompass will usually provide a list of likely suppliers.
Market research reports
Market research reports can provide extremely valuable information, not usually available elsewhere. As their name suggests, they look at market sectors and give statistical information, sometimes with market forecasts. The information is gathered by specific research involving speaking to the main companies in any particular sector and analysing the results. They take a considerable amount of time and effort to compile and therefore tend to be rather expensive ranging from a few hundred to several thousands of pounds, but if there is a report dealing specifically with your industry sector, it could be that the information is too valuable not to have.
Industry associations can be a valuable source of information, either directly or on your behalf as a member of the association. The UK’s British Glass offers an excellent information service, and there are equivalent associations in other countries.
If you have a particular requirement for information, and you don’t have the time or resources to search it out for yourself, you can employ the services of a specialist to do the work for you. There are a number of free lance information brokers some of whom specialise in a particular industry sector. A useful directory is the one from EIRENE, the European Information Researchers Network.
Contacts within the industry can form a valuable information resource, as they can often direct you to sources which you otherwise would have been unaware.
Meetings such as this provide ideal opportunities to network, and it is often said that this can be more valuable than the meeting itself.
We hope that this brief run through of the sources available to us in the glass industry has given you a few pointers as to where you may find that elusive piece of information you may desperately be seeking.