Latest Articles in In the Trenches

  • Creating a plan for Industry 4.0
    Common Language How to eliminate islands The simple answer to eliminating islands of information is to write code to obtain all the machinery data and write additional code to integrate it with an in-house software solution. However, most window and door fabricators do not have the resources to take on a large custom Industry 4.0 software initiative. The cost to do this independently would be... more »
  • As shipping costs increase and the driver shortage amplifies, the supply chain faces new decisions about operations
    High Tech Trucking on the Horizon? McKinsey & Co. revealed the average supply chain has a digitization level of 43 percent, which was the lowest number of the five business areas the study examined. Only 2 percent of surveyed executives indicated that supply chain is the focus of their digital strategies. That same study showed that companies that aggressively digitize their supply... more »
  • New tech affords manufacturers a path to creating thermochromic smart windows
    It is estimated that billions of dollars of wasted energy flows through inefficient windows every year, allowing a big opportunity for manufacturers to make smart windows that offer some relief to dam the flow of this wasted money and energy. However, the high cost and limited performance of thermochromic windows has prevented them from achieving their full market potential. Conventional... more »
  • MI Windows achieves OSHA Voluntary Protection Programs star for safety
     Editor’s Note: This article is based on the safety roundtable held at the American Architectural Manufacturers Association 2018 Fall Conference. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is often considered to be the police of workplace safety. OSHA sets rules and regulations, performs audits, issues fines and more, all in an effort to create safer workplaces. However, two... more »
  • New installation practice organizes complicated options for brick veneer walls
    Install Basics As is known throughout the fenestration community, improper window installation can contribute to excessive air infiltration, water penetration, sound intrusion and condensation as well as insufficient structural integrity. And, also well-known, water penetration can commonly lead to a variety of familiar problems. But there are best practices that can help avoid these issues.... more »
  • A look inside Ply Gem Canada’s manufacturing process
    Right: “To optimize space, we combined two stations into one, with rotating and squaring functionality in the same rack,” Dave Bamford, production supervisor, explains. “[This enables] the operator to install panels on both sides without moving from his present position.” (All images courtesy of Ply Gem.) The story rings true for most all fenestration manufacturers: the... more »
  • Preventative maintenance makes (dollars and) sense
    One of the most glaring issues I see among manufacturers in our industry is the lack of consistent, thorough preventative maintenance programs. We’ve all heard some variation of the phrase, “I can’t let maintenance have the machine; we have windows to make!” This view that maintenance gets in the way of production is more common than most of us would like to admit. But the... more »
  • The role of IoT in an automated plant
    Imagine being asked to play in a football game where you don’t know any of the other individuals on the team nor their respective positions. It isn’t the concussive helmet crashes from previous games that have obscured your sense of familiarity; you really have no knowledge of, or relationship to, any of these people. Nothing in common. Not age, shared experiences, nor demographics.... more »
  •   Employer Checklist Perform a “hazard” assessment of the factory, required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, osha.gov, to determine physical hazards, like moving objects and temperature, as well as health hazards, such as overexposure to harmful dusts and chemicals Perform regular maintenance on machines Replace machinery that is not working properly Make... more »
  • Common sense practices for the factory floor
    Five Tips for a Safer Work Environment Easy-to-implement ideas to boost manufacturing plant safety Create policies, not only for where employees can walk, but how they move through the plant floor. For example, require workers and visitors to exercise the same rules as crossing a road—stop at an aisle intersection and look both ways down an aisle, before proceeding with caution. ... more »