Last month, [DWM] published its 2024 Outlook. The full report is worth your attention, but here are a few quotes that stood out to me:

“2024 is one of the first years in recent history in which a recession isn’t in the forecast.”

“The fenestration industry has a moderate level of optimism in the market and anticipates stronger growth in 2024 than 2023.”

“[Forecasted] home sales will rise by 13.5% in 2024.”

“The clouds are finally parting.”

These are all encouraging things to hear about the state of the fenestration industry after several years of turmoil following the pandemic. Supply chains and material woes are finally abating, industry experts are expecting growth, and door and window manufacturers are looking to invest in their businesses.

What does that mean for your shop floor? I’m glad you asked. That brings us to today’s tip:

Don’t lose sight of the fundamentals.

Capitalizing on the opportunities that could present themselves this year requires discipline. Though some of the unique challenges of the past few years may be dissipating, that doesn’t mean manufacturers can lose focus of the fundamentals. Making consistent, high-quality units safely and efficiently is how you grew your business in the first place. And it’s what will continue to enable you to grow your business under more favorable market conditions.

Right now is a good opportunity to buckle down and ensure all of your manufacturing processes are up to standard. Start at the beginning:

Are you getting raw materials into the production line in a timely and efficient manner, or are there complexities to be ironed out? Are your workers performing the basics of insulating glass (IG) fabrication correctly, or are you noticing lapses? Once your IG units are complete, are your workers properly racking them for transport? Are those units quickly being glazed into finished doors and windows, or are you facing bottlenecks—too much product coming off the line with nowhere to go? Finally, how about your outbound products? Are your trucks being filled and sorted optimally, or is there confusion in the shipping bay?

The most successful door and window makers get these things right, so it’s important you’re regularly evaluating your processes and making sure you’re getting them right, too. To those ends, it can be worth looking into third-party production audits and worker training programs. A third-party audit can uncover efficiencies or quality lapses you might not have known were occurring, while training can empower your workforce with the right tools and knowledge to make high-quality doors and windows every time.

A positive market outlook can bring new opportunities for manufacturers. However, it takes a focus on the fundamentals to make the most of them.

John Ryba is Technical Services Manager for Quanex.

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