Based in Kópavogur, a district of Reykjavík, Europe’s northernmost capital, on the west coast of Iceland, ÍSPAN has been producing insulating glass for the entire country and refining flat glass into unique objects since 1969.
The company has grown and developed since its founding. Then a small glazier’s workshop, ÍSPAN bet on technological advantages early and became LiSEC’s first customer near the Arctic Circle. In 1970, the company invested in a GFL desiccant filling system that allowed it to fill spacers with desiccant faster and more reliably, and improve the production and quality of the insulating glass they made.
With the company’s takeover by Guðmundur Grímsson, his brothers and his sister — the children of the founder — ÍSPAN managed a successful generational change to its upper management and continued its successful development. In 2017, the company came into the hands of new owners, the family of Ingibjörg Björnsdóttir. At this point, the company’s daily operations are run by Einar Þór Harðarson and his wife Auður Kristín Árnadóttir.
ÍSPAN has always placed the highest confidence in its employees and continuously invests in new technologies. By doing so, the company was able to decisively influence the Icelandic market for insulating glass, and ÍSPAN has successfully opened new markets for its specially developed indoor and outdoor products.
Facts and figures
The growth of the Icelandic quality leader, which now employs about 50 people, has followed a steep trajectory since 2017. In the past five years, revenue has grown from about EUR 4 million to over EUR 9 million. Sales are approximately 50 percent insulating glass and 50 percent other interior and exterior glass products, which points to considerable growth potential for the company.
In one-shift operation at its site, ÍSPAN produces up to 400 insulating glass units per day, most of which are double units with aluminium spacers. Potential customers can view the various glass products at the company’s own showroom.
The professional sales team plans more than 100 customer-specific orders every day. ÍSPAN offers its customers an especially comprehensive range of products. With more than 70 different types of glass in stock and an extensive network of partners, the high-quality products range from insulating glass units for new buildings and conversions to glass partitions, balustrades and railings with various point or clamp fastenings, shower and kitchen partitions to special lighting objects such as mirrors with integrated LED illumination.
Due to Iceland’s isolated location away from the European mainland and the consequent need to be somewhat self-sufficient, ÍSPAN has achieved an excellent reputation as a highly qualified, reliable partner.
“In an emergency, we can produce customer orders the same day, which builds a lot of trust and strengthens our brand,” said Einar Þór Harðarson.
The ÍSPAN maintenance team, along with the service team from LiSEC and its partner Per Mordt A/S, from Norway, ensures high system availability, which ÍSPAN especially values in its collaboration with LiSEC.
The secret to success
“The glass sheets we need are delivered in special 20-foot containers from Germany and usually take three weeks after order issuance,” Einar said. “With LiSEC’s modern Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system gps.prod, which has an integrated database with orders from past decades, we could optimize our procurement. This has very positively affected current availability and delivery times.”
The various flat glass units, which are ordered and delivered as 5.1 by 3.21 metre panes or as split-sized glass sheets in crates, are stored in several slot racks. Those are coupled with a modern LiSEC support system, which delivers the raw glass sheets to the new float glass cutting system GFB-60/33 with an edge deletion module. A new fully automatic insulating glass line with VHW washing machine, FPS gas filling press and VL-1N sealing robot produces up to 400 units per shift. The entire production plan is done with gps.prod. Data for the appropriate systems are provided electronically, and each process step in production is transparently visible and can be recorded.
A significant portion of the processed glass sheets now consist of laminated glass. Four years ago, ÍSPAN invested in a modern laminated glass cutting bridge, the LAM-37 base series from LiSEC. Moreover, a new automatic topDRILL glass drilling machine from Schraml was purchased to provide the growing portion of special products with appropriate holding and fastening solutions. Additionally, a horizontal 3-axis grinding and polishing machine and vertical one-sided multiple polishing machine is used for edge processing, while ÍSPAN uses horizontal laser decoating for surface processing, especially for the designer mirrors with LED lighting.
“The interfaces of the LiSEC software solution for data transfer from all these systems makes our work immensely easier,” said Einar. “Use of LiSEC software has significantly increased the flexibility and efficiency of our production. It has allowed us to almost double our production, even though our production space has barely changed, and at the same time we could ensure and maintain quality.”
In addition to a modern machine fleet and first-class software systems, which ensure optimal use of the complex production facilities, service and maintenance also play an important role in high system availability. Routine maintenance and service are done as a collaboration between LiSEC and ÍSPAN employees. Meanwhile, when necessary, LiSEC provides replacement parts and service support through its partner Per Mordt A/S from Norway.
Blazing new trails
In Iceland, where there’s daylight almost round the clock in summer, and darkness in winter except for a short twilight, for more than six years, ÍSPAN has supplied lighting units with Scandinavian design and unique mirrors. With these products, the company has expanded its product range and offers its customer something very special. ÍSPAN develops these and other special products internally with the help of its own experienced employee, and thus distinguishes itself from the competition.
“New products and processes call for modern system and software solutions for the control system,” Einar said. “In LiSEC, we have a competent, innovative partner that backs our intentions and grows along with us.”
The future and security
“With its exposed position, the Icelandic market offers security, but not without limits,” said Einar. “Quality and the trust of our customers are what drives us, and in the future we want to grow and strengthen, both in the collaboration with LiSEC and also in actively shaping the market, of course. The market share for special products and safety glass is continuously growing, which requires ÍSPAN to determine its future focus and processes to ease further growth and build on the strong market position. Moreover, ÍSPAN will be able to gain further market share thanks to its outstanding location and equipment.”
Business success through integrated solutions
In internal technological development, ÍSPAN places special value on solutions where hardware and software take an integrated approach. The synergy of machine and software is especially important for using the available resources optimally and efficiently. Another important factor is simple, intuitive usability of software solutions, because only software that users can operate happily and successfully delivers the appropriate results.
“Thanks to LiSEC’s all.in.one:solutions, we’ve taken first place in the Icelandic flat glass industry, and we’re proud of the machines and software that support us in that,” Einar said.