SAINT-GOBAINLes Miroirs18, avenue d'Alsace92400 CourbevoieFRANCE
Eurofloat is a joint flat glass manufacturing company that owns a facility equipped with leading-edge technology. The industrial site in Salaise-sur-Sanne (France) has a float line that manufactures clear glass for housing and commercial buildings: glazing (windows and verandas), glazed facades, interior decoration and finishing (partitions, glass tiles, etc.).
This float supplies the plant’s other two lines:
The production is mainly earmarked for the construction markets in France and Benelux. However, more complex products can be exported worldwide.
Eurofloat produces sheets of flat glass than can be as large as 6 x 3.21 meters and from 3 to 12 mm thick. Float line production involves five steps. Part of the flat glass produced undergoes specific, very high-tech treatment on two separate lines. This first of these deposits on the glass a series of thin transparent coatings of various materials and thicknesses using cathode sputtering under a vacuum (magnetron). This treatment provides double- and triple-glazing with enhanced thermal insulation and solar protection properties. The other line assembles the laminated glass. Mounted as single- or double-glazing, it is used to protect people and property and provide acoustic insulation.
Eurofloat was created in 1988 as a société anonyme (≈ limited stock company) between Saint-Gobain Vitrage, Miroiteries de l’Ouest, Vegla and Fabrica Pisana. In 1989, the company built its plant in Salaise-sur-Sanne (France) on a 34-hectare site and started up its float line. About 120 people worked at the site at the time. In 2000, the float line underwent its first upgrade resulting in increased production capacity. The same year, the magnetron line or coater for depositing thin coatings on glass was built and entered production. Then in 2007, the Eurofloat plant acquired a laminated glass assembly line. Since 2012, Eurofloat has been owned by two shareholders: Saint-Gobain and RIOU, which acquired 50 percent of the equity under a production joint venture.
Prepared over two years, the operation was completed in record time. Shut down on January 28, 2016, the float line was first emptied and cooled before being dismantled. Its reconstruction began on February 15, and was completed on April 28. The furnace was fired up again on that same day. It took 22 days to raise the temperature and allow all the furnace components to dilate. On May 20, the new float line produced its first run of glass.
An age-old tradition among glassmakers, this ceremony involves firing up the new furnace with a flame from the former furnace that has been kept burning throughout the entire refurbishment or renovation process. The flame is handed to the furnace sponsor who is supposed to bring good luck to the new facility. The ceremony is held when the new furnace is heated up. At the Eurofloat plant, it took 65 “large candles” to keep the flame alive between the time the old furnace was shut down in January and the lighting ceremony on Thursday, April 28. Two sponsors were chosen to light the refurbished furnace: Marine Gaume, the daughter of Olivier Gaume, Director of Technical Assistance at Saint-Gobain’s International Technical Division, and Jade Riou, the daughter of Nicolas Riou, managing Director of the RIOU Glass.
Eurofloat took advantage of the float line’s refurbishment to modernize the various parts of its industrial facility. The improved yield is in particular attributable to the optimized cutting of the glass sheets following the upgrade to the cold-end installation. Incorporating Saint-Gobain’s R&D expertise, the furnace consumes 25 percent less energy than the previous facility. This significant drop in consumption also means fewer greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 in particular), while the pollution abatement systems ensure very low levels of nitrous oxide (NOx) and sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions. This environmental performance ties in with Saint-Gobain’s policy to reduce all CO2 emissions.
The modernization of the Salaise-sur-Sanne float ensures the continued operation of the plant and its transformation shops for the long term, as the new furnace’s life span is expected to be 20 years. The resumption of activity at this industrial site is also a guarantee for all the local and regional sub-contractors who work for Eurofloat. Most are SMEs working in a range of areas: transportation, electricity, sheet metal and pipe work, industrial cleaning, and so on. This refurbishment also marks the continued industrial presence of Saint-Gobain and RIOU Glass on French soil.
Eurofloat’s direct customers are Saint-Gobain’s transformation units operating under the Glassolutions brand, independent transformers such as Climalit Partners, and RIOU Glass’s transformation units. About 200 people work at the Eurofloat site in Salaise-sur-Sanne. More than one hundred operators, some 60 technicians and 15 managers contribute their expertise, skills and training to ensure the technical performance of France’s most modern flat glass plant. The Eurofloat plant’s activities have been certified ISO 9001 (quality management) since 1993, and ISO 14001 (environmental approach) since 2008.