Fenestration Fundamentals November/December 2019

July 20th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

Shortcuts: Necessity Rarely Outweighs the Consequences

By Mike Burk

If you do a lot of freeway driving, chances are you’ve noticed a slogan on the back of some semi-trailers reading “There are no shortcuts.” This may be true in the transportation industry, but it isn’t true in fenestration.

Shortcuts in the manufacturing processes of doors and windows are abound. They usually rear their ugly heads when people get behind in their work, when they’re pushed to meet deadlines and production quotas, or are face with the need for complete remakes of special, “rush” orders. Be forewarned, however, that shortcuts intended to save time negatively impact two of the most important areas in production processes: quality and safety.

Quality Impacts

When it comes to glass, rushing can impact each step of the process. Beginning in the area of cutting—if the breakout operator attempts to save time and steps by sorting multiple lites, scratching and edge damage often result. There again, loading the glass into sorting racks too quickly often causes scratching in the parallel slots.

When it comes to edge deletion, rushing can cause additional glass damage. At faster speeds, low emissivity coatings aren’t completely removed, and sealant adhesion problems may occur. Rotating the glass too quickly in the deletion process can also create rounded deletion in the corners, which will be seen by homeowners. Rushing may also cause damage to glass edges, as the glass contacts metal components in the edge deletion equipment.

When pieces of glass are loaded onto the washer entrance conveyor too close to one another, glass-to-glass impact damages often occur, also resulting in glass breakage. Increasing the speed of the washer conveyor may result in dirty or wet glass, which can cause future seal failures.

Insulating glass assemblers or stackers who find themselves in a rush may drag glass lites toward them, rather than waiting for the conveyor to safely deliver, causing scratches, breakage and additional edge damage. When the stacking process is completed too quickly, misalignment of glass and spacers can result in breakage during the glazing process. A forceful push of IG units that were just assembled onto the next conveyor can cause additional scratches and misalignment, as the unit enters heating and compression. Too much speed through an oven and roll press may result in poor whet out and adhesion problems.

The list goes on.

Safety Impacts

Shortcuts in matters of safety are often justified by the idea of doing it that way “just this once.” But the fact is that it only takes once for someone to be killed or severely disabled. Bypassing equipment interlocks or safety devices is incredibly dangerous. Ignoring lockout, tag-out procedures in order to save the time required for restarting processes is often fatal. The use of defective equipment or attempting temporary modifications in order to “just get it done,” can result not only in additional equipment damage, but human injury.

When it comes to handling, attempting to lift large lites and IG units manually, rather than taking the time to use available lifting equipment, can cause glass breakage and severance.

When it comes to shortcuts, passing through production areas, rather than staying within marked aisles, can cause injury to both the people working in those areas, as well as the people taking shortcuts. Entering those areas without the required personal protective equipment can result in severe injuries.

Slow Down

By now, you might be exhausted considering all of the negative implications for taking shortcuts and rushing, but this list is only the start of all the possible issues.

An experienced glass foreman once asked me, “Why is it that we never have time to do things correctly the first time, but always have sufficient time to do something a second or third time?” I have to say, he was totally correct.

The bottom line is: Slow down. Take the time to safely complete each process as it’s described in the work instructions. Don’t allow someone to cause you to rush, risking quality or injury to you or your co-workers. It’s never worth it.

Mike Burk is the North American technical representative for Sparklike.
mike.burk@sparklike.com

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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