Fenestration Focus November/December 2020July 28th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs
Keeping Up: If Any One Area is Lagging, It Might be Time for Rethinking Strategies
By Brian Ludwig
This year has been anything but ordinary, and it’s brought door and window manufacturers reason to rethink how they make quality products, while keeping their employees safe. It’s been challenging, but it has also presented opportunities to identify new efficiencies on the plant floor. And the opportunities continue, as the tail end of 2020 looks to be a busy time for the fenestration industry.
For steady, reliable production of higher volumes of window units, manufacturers should be thinking holistically about their operations and where they can improve.
One area to consider includes screens production. Here are a few signs that it might be time to rethink your strategy, along with how you can build greater efficiency into your operations.
Challenge #1: Screens are taking up too much of your time and resources. A door or window unit isn’t complete without its corresponding screen. If, for example, you’re making 600 windows per day but can only manage to make 500 screens for those windows, that means you’re only able to ship 500 orders out to customers.
Manufacturers might find themselves devoting additional labor to screens production to rectify this issue, but no door and window manufacturer should be sacrificing their best people to screens production when they could be helping to assemble the high-performance, high-value window systems that make you money.
Challenge #2: Investing in new screens equipment doesn’t always make sense. No successful window company stays in one place for very long, and investments in screens equipment can get complicated— and costly. If you’re in the process of developing a new window line, a new size and type of screen must be developed along with it. A diversified line, with multiple options for size and operability, could require different equipment and components for corresponding screens production.
Challenge #3: You’re devoting too much time to screens equipment maintenance. Just like any other piece of machinery, screens equipment must be maintained proactively in order to operate efficiently. Cutting blades need to be sharpened and calibrated; a dull or inaccurate blade can completely throw off production accuracy, resulting in a poor-quality product that can cost you later down the line.
One solution includes eliminating your headaches with strategic outsourcing. For fabricators that have always done everything in-house, this can be a leap. But imagine: What if your screens expenditures could be directed somewhere else—somewhere you can add even greater value to that new window line, like a more thermally efficient glass packages, higher-performance frames, or a wider variety of color options?
Of course, outsourcing a part of your finished product is not a decision to take lightly, so thoroughly vet your options. A good screens supplier should be able to match the needs of your production schedule, as well as the needs of your core product, with reliable and local delivery when you need it. Essentially, it should still feel like your screens are being made in the same building.
Brian Ludwig is Northeast territory sales manager for Quanex Building Products.
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