Kensington Glass Arts creates daunting challenge for Glaston

The company needed a new RC350 furnace assembled and running in just three weeks

Celebrating 40 years in business, Kensington Glass Arts decided to upgrade its old Tamglass furnace to Glaston’s RC350. The deal-clinching factor was Glaston’s agreement to get the new furnace installed, commissioned and running saleable tempered glass in just three weeks.
Kensington Glass Arts began as an art glass studio in Washington DC, engaged in stained glass and glass etching. With a shift in economic conditions in the early 90s, the company moved into installation work and then gradually became established in glazing for commercial office interiors.
Today, under CEO David Stones’s direction, Kensington Glass Arts has grown to become a leading fabricator and installer of high-end interior architectural glass, leaving stained glass and etching in the company’s past. A more recent step in the company’s development came when it started tempering glass in house.
“Instead of buying new equipment, we got a used Tamglass along with new CNC and polishing equipment in 2002. After using the old furnace for 15 years, it was a clear priority on our list to upgrade,” David explained. “The market has improved over the past five years. So, we have had our eyes set on upgrading how we fabricate glass, as this area offers us the biggest growth potential.”
David had been tracking manufacturers of tempering furnaces for a number of years and visited the top international glass shows.
“I like how Glaston presents themselves. They’re nice people. We’ve kept in touch over the years, and I have been a strong advocate for the company,” he said.
As a small operation geared to serving the interior market, it was infeasible for Kensington Glass Arts to shut down production for eight weeks to install a new furnace.
“We reached out to several manufacturers to find out how long it would take them to deliver a new tempering furnace, what all would be involved, and what would be the costs and process. We stipulated that the new furnace had to be up and running in three weeks from the time that the delivery crates arrived. The ultimate challenge, I guess.
“Since I was already predisposed to liking Glaston, I listened to all they agreed on – and was convinced by their confidence in being able to help us make the deadline.”
To make everything happen according to schedule, Glaston planned to send the engineering manager over to Kensington twice during installation rather than the normal single visit. Additionally, two crews were proposed to work two shifts, six days a week. In total, there was a team of 24 people, including engineers and mechanics from both Finland and the US.
To make matters even more challenging, the original furnace had to be disassembled and removed from the facility on the same day that the new furnace was set to arrive in six 40 foot containers.
“In the end, it all went well, because everyone did their best to pull together. By June 12, the new furnace was producing glass, exactly three weeks to the day,” David said with a smile. “The entire project worked because we were all on board fully to get it done.”
David says the furnace is producing significantly better quality now. “We’re getting 100 percent more glass out of the furnace because we’ve gone to a wider and longer line. Plus, the RC350 is simply faster and more effective. We’re seeing a considerable reduction in energy consumption, too. I love the new furnace – it was a good choice for us.”