Fenestration Fundamentals July/August 2020July 22nd, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs
In-House or Out: Either Way You Go, for IGUs the Key Is in Eliminating Chaos
By Mike Burk
We have increasingly heard the word “chaos” over the last few months, as it seems to be part of every news program and a lot of conversations. As one who grew up in the era of the television series “Get Smart,” this summons a few analogies—especially when it comes to insulating glass units (IGUs). Although spelled differently, “KAOS” was “an international organization of evil” and the arch enemy of CONTROL (agent Maxwell Smart). CONTROL was a counter-espionage organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., whose main purpose included defeating KAOS. And as you may have suspected, KAOS isn’t an acronym, but a different take (and spelling) on the real thing.
There were also several special department heads within KAOS, including the League of Imposters, the Contrived Accident Division, and Run Robot Run.
Anyone who has supervised or worked in a glass department has witnessed the techniques of KAOS.
Same Cast Different Crew
We have all met Mr. Big—that glass department supervisor who’s tried every option and now isn’t willing to listen to suggestions for improvement. Members of the League of Imposters prosper within some organizations. They claim to be extremely experienced and to know everything about IG. These are the folks who believe that there is only one way to compete: their way. Members of the Contrived Accident Division in the IG group might include those who are always ready to blame someone or something for missed deliveries, poor quality or missing units. The Run Robot Run group lives in deadly fear of any automation which might improve production quality and must be avoided at all costs. Watch for these “KAOS” specialists in your facility.
Hopefully you can nod along to those analogies. Though on a more serious note, the decision to manufacture or outsource your IG can be difficult, as the wrong choice can greatly affect the long-term growth of a company. At the same time, let me just say that while IG departments can be chaotic, they don’t need to be. When good manufacturing processes are implemented and followed, the department can run smoothly and be very productive. Practices such as improving employee skills, cross training, safety programs and preventive maintenance will improve efficiency. In the end, manufacturing IG can be very profitable. Otherwise why would anyone want to do it for you?
On the other hand, there may be benefits to outsourcing—including fewer employees, especially during the peak season, and no need for layoffs during the slow seasons. With some purchase agreements there also may be fewer liabilities for your company regarding warranties.
So far as the decision goes, IG professionals know the steps required to efficiently make high-quality IG, so it’s time to take advantage of their many years of experience. Make them members of a team to evaluate and carefully review all the supply options available and decide as a team.
In the end, Maxwell Smart was grateful for the existence of KAOS saying, “If KAOS was ever destroyed, there would be no need for CONTROL,” thus putting him out of business. Maybe the same is true for in-house versus outsourcing for IGUs.
Mike Burk is the North American technical representative for Sparklike.
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