May 21, 2020

After a Pause, Ramping Back Up with Automated Solutions

by Guest Blogger

I don’t know about you, but it feels to me like we’re starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
After two months of wrestling with the implications of the coronavirus pandemic, which saw many in the fenestration industry temporarily pause or slow production due to the challenging business conditions, it seems like manufacturers are ready to put their collective foot back on the gas pedal. Our teams at Quanex have been fielding calls from customers ready to ramp back up, and it’s a good thing to see, especially as we roll into what’s traditionally been our busy season.
I won’t go any further without mentioning our responsibility to get back into production safely. As I wrote earlier in the month, being a “safety first” organization right now is the most important thing you can do. For those of us who have remained in production throughout the past several weeks, “business as usual” hasn’t been a possibility. But by implementing protocols like social distancing at workstations, staggered shifts, and other measures, we’ve made do.
It’s a new way of working—and we’ll be doing it like this for a while. Manufacturers will need to get creative with how we’re meeting demand safely, efficiently and with the same level of attention to quality for our finished products. More generally, the safety measures we’re taking to deal with the crisis will probably have greater implications for how we operate well into the future.
I see automated equipment and technology playing a big role here, as we begin to collectively shape what a “new normal” looks like as an industry. The benefits that fenestration manufacturers have sought in automated insulated glass lines—minimized human touchpoints and easier transport of units across the shop floor, for example—will also help as we work to minimize viral spread in our facilities. New equipment and machinery also can open new opportunities to rethink the flow of a plant, which is something that’s already happening with a socially distanced workforce. Finally, an automated IG line can help bring significant return on investment and ultimately cost savings on fabrication, and organizations should be investigating all options to optimize their bottom lines right now.
I suspect that we’re just seeing the beginning of how manufacturing is going to change in the face of this crisis, and I think automation and related technology will be a big part of it. Forward-thinking window and door and IG manufacturers should be looking at their options and working on proactive strategies to remain safe, operationally efficient, and profitable over the next few months and beyond. Make no mistake, this is a challenging time for everyone—but we should still be looking for the opportunities where they exist.
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Posted: May 21, 2020 by Guest Blogger Filed under: automation, IG