It’s 2022. You’ve probably found yourself keeping busy during these past few winter months, and are likely to do so throughout the months to come.

In years past we would be beyond the crest of the industry’s typical busy season but with supply chain issues and a larger than ever backlog we still need to find time to catch up on any maintenance and housekeeping tasks that might have been put off throughout the summer. That may sound like common sense—but it can be easy to forget how important maintenance is to your bottom line. And that brings us to today’s tip:

Don’t let maintenance lapses compromise your quality.

Production downtime is likely considered the biggest problem that can arise as a result of maintenance lapses. A machine breaks down, and you’re stuck fixing it instead of building more units while dollars fly out the window.

However, smaller maintenance issues may not cause downtime but rather compromise your product quality. Here are a few examples that are worth giving some special attention:

The glass washing station. If you make your own insulating glass (IG), the glass washing station is one of the most critical components of your production line. Dirty glass can lead to aesthetic as well as performance issues like seal failures.

With this in mind, ongoing maintenance of the glass washing station should be a regular function of your plant. Ensuring that water quality and temperature are consistent is an everyday task. And every so often, give your machine special attention. For example, it’s recommended that glass washing machines be power washed at least once a week and taken apart/thoroughly cleaned monthly, but those processes can slip when demand remains high and we’re contending with other problems. Nevertheless, you should prioritize these processes to maintain high levels of product quality.

Calibration. Fenestration manufacturing is an exacting, precise process. And as we increasingly implement automated processes and technologies into our operations, it’s critically important to ensure that all equipment is properly calibrated.

For instance: Accurate notching and cutting of IG spacers are important when it comes to the overall performance of your units. Your spacer shuttle tool must function as intended to make that happen. Take a close look at your settings and ensure that they’re properly adjusted and that they are notching cleanly. Dull blades or incorrect settings may impact unit performance. Make adjustments as deemed necessary.

Evaluate your plan and practices. Maintenance and upkeep should be something you’re pursuing year-round. It’s a process—and it’s just as important as any other on your shop floor. And every so often, take the time to evaluate your established best practices and procedures. Have these processes been working well? Are they being followed reliably by your staff? Is everyone on your floor following the maintenance schedule you’ve established? Does that schedule need adjusting?

Only you can answer those questions—and any time is a good time for some reflection. Maintenance is a critical part of reliable production, especially during challenging times, and it’s important we don’t forget it.

John Ryba is Technical Services Manager for Quanex.

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