WOCDs Emerging on Manufacturer Product Lines

New codes expected to spur more development and options

Over the past several decades, safety advocates, building code officials and the window and door industry have looked for ways to prevent children falling through windows. In recent years, those efforts led to the concept of the window opening control device or WOCD, a new type of hardware that many window and door manufacturers are now studying and some have even integrated into their product lines.

A number of window manufacturers are already using a WOCD introduced by Vision Industries last year.

Movement to incorporate such products is likely to be spurred by the 2012 editions of the International Residential Code and the International Building Code. At the International Code Council hearings last fall, a proposal that provides an exception to the minimum window sill height requirement for operable windows that are equipped with WOCDs that comply with ASTM F2090 was approved.

ASTM F2090 itself, originally covering window fall prevention screens with emergency egress mechanisms, was only recently updated to include both window fall prevention screens and WOCDs. To be compliant with the ASTM standard, WOCDs must provide for a way for windows to be opened less than 4 inches, but then also allow for quick release when there is a need to open the window fully. They must also reset to the 4-inch opening limit automatically every time the window is opened.

Ashland also reports that a number of its customers have adopted its WOCD, noting that adding it to a window is relatively simple.

The 2012 editions of the codes have not received final ICC approval, and even when they do, it will take some time before states and localities begin to adopt them, but the industry is moving already, hardware suppliers report. A number of manufacturers are already using a device introduced by his company last year, reports Luke Liang of Vision Industries Group.

Some of Ashland Hardware Systems’ customers have already switched to use WOCDs on 100 percent of their products, reports Markus Muller, hung window product manager for the company. What stage in the process window manufacturers are at as far as evaluating and implementing these components varies significantly across the country, he adds, noting that typically, their adoption is more prevalent in regions that have traditionally adopted the more stringent building codes.

“Window manufacturers are responding appropriately to comply with the codes,” reports Connie Trom, business unit manager for sliding windows at Truth Hardware. She sees them educating themselves now about the applicable codes for the specific regions in which their products are sold.

“Gauging the market is very difficult and most window manufacturers are trying to understand the market size and when the product should be used,” adds Truth’s Aaron Mundt, business unit manager for hinged windows. “Unless the window is being built for a specific application,” he notes, “many window manufacturers will not know if the device is required at the time the window is manufactured.”

Search for hinged window and retrofit solutions
Like the other suppliers, Truth Hardware has a solution identified for sliding windows as it relates to WOCDs and is currently evaluating market size and potential. A solution for hinged windows is not currently available, reports Mundt, but Truth is actively researching solutions for this application.

Looking at the currently available options, Vision’s Liang reports his company’s product, designed for hung or sliding vinyl and wood windows, is easily installed by window manufacturers. Ashland also took a “plug-and-play” approach in developing its products to fit existing window applications, states Muller. "Manufacturers appreciate the speed and minimal cost to market. Our WOCD integrates easily, and provides window manufacturers a custom solution for various market requirements. In many instances, it’s as easy as snapping a new SKU into their existing window stile.”

Truth is taking a somewhat different approach, reports Matt Kottke, the supplier’s market support manager. “Our customers realize that this issue likely cannot simply be resolved with some ‘off the shelf’ item,” he states. “They are turning to Truth Hardware, whose strength is in engineered solutions, to help them clarify the issues and ask to work collaboratively with them in developing a plan to meet these requirements.”

Suppliers agree that more choices in WOCDs will emerge. “As both OEM applied and retrofit applications will be needed by the marketplace, product designs for both scenarios are being explored,” Trom notes.

As the 2012 editions of the codes are adopted by states and localities, there is likely to be further development, Muller predicts. “It appears on the national level that more progress and clarity needs to be made,” he states. “WOCDs are relatively new to code requirements, with the potential for growth, and expansion of hardware options for window manufacturers.”