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One Effective Way to Cut Your Lead Times

“Unprecedented” is a term we hear a lot these days, and it’s manifesting in a new way in the residential window market: Lead times.

If you’re a homeowner, and you buy new windows today, the earliest you can likely expect them to be installed is April. I’ve been in the industry for a long time—and that much lead time certainly qualifies as unprecedented.

There are a few easily identifiable factors that have led to this situation. First, the pandemic and its consequences have wreaked havoc on the global supply chain—not just in our industry, but in just about every industry. Obtaining raw materials at reasonable prices and in a timely fashion remains a challenge for manufacturers around the world.

At the same time, demand in the residential space is booming. Low interest rates have spurred investment in home improvements, coupled with the increased amount of time people have spent in their houses for the past year. This is, of course, one of those “good problems.” But it’s placed even more strain on windowmakers throughout the country.

Finally, the ongoing and worsening labor shortage has further compounded the problems associated with difficult supply chains and high demand. Even when we can get the materials we need, it’s extremely difficult to find the people to put them together.

It’s all resulted in a market where 8-10 week lead times for homeowner has become normal. For manufacturers, it’s worth continued investigation in how we can get back to delivering quality products to our customers in a timelier fashion.

One potential solution is rethinking your in-house screens production. Making screens involves frame cutting, punching corners, frame assembly and applying screen mesh, with each of these distinct processes involving a different skilled worker. It’s hard work—and it has the potential to become a major headache if it isn’t all performed efficiently and consistently. No window and door manufacturer should be sacrificing their best people to screens production when they could be helping assemble the high-performance, high-value window systems that make you money.

But let’s face it: Your customers expect quality, functional screens when their new windows are installed. It’s a necessity, and it must be treated as such. If 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 the door to your customers. Screens could be creating an artificial cap on your production.

What is to be done? Get rid of the headache by eliminating the source. Outsourcing. Consider outsourcing your screens production with a trusted supplier. Doing so can allow you to allocate your best workers where they’re most needed, and better contribute to timelier delivery for your customers.

Learn more about screens outsourcing solutions from Quanex.

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