3M: Glass Melter

Specialized Electrical Support Under Extreme Conditions

For more than 30 years, Collins has installed and maintained the heat-producing electrodes on the glass-melting kiln that 3M relies on for the production of small, glass bubbles. To keep this powerful, 3-story-tall kiln operational—all while ensuring the highest possible safety standards—Collins has developed specialized equipment, written custom safety procedures, and invested in highly specialized talent.

Custom Tools & Protective Gear

The electrodes Collins maintains on 3M’s behalf draw an extraordinary amount of power; the services feeding them run at 300-600 amps and 350-600 volts AC. This is because the electrodes are the exclusive heat source for the kiln, which reaches temperatures of 3,090°F. To work safely near these extreme levels of both heat and electricity demands equipment so specialized that Collins has to make it in house. For example, Collins designed ice vests that its electricians can wear to keep their body temperatures down while servicing the electrodes.

World-Class Safety Procedures

In collaboration with 3M engineers, Collins has written and implemented detailed, step-by-step safety procedures and instructions for every electrical support effort related to the kiln’s electrodes. These transparent guides were developed in good faith to help everyone involved leverage and share the invaluable experiences of those who know the kiln and its electrodes best.

Specialized, On-Call Labor

Given the extreme conditions under which the kiln operates, only highly trained individuals can service its heat-producing electrodes. In addition, these individuals must be on-call at any time, day or night. This is because when an electrode goes out, the temperature in the mighty kiln drops, negatively impacting production. As a result, Collins ensures that a dedicated, on-call specialist capable of safely servicing the electrodes is always available to meet 3M’s needs and keep the glass melter running.

The success of the main power connections shows [Collins’] knowledge of their field and the operation of the melter. We would not have had this success without their efforts.

Manufacturing Engineering Specialist | 3M

3M Company


Cottage Grove, Minnesota

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