October 04, 2018

Preparing for the Future Is a Process

by Joe Erb

There are more ways than ever for fenestration manufacturers to build new efficiency into their operations. There are numerous reasons why it’s necessary, most prominent being an ongoing labor shortage. It’s the new normal. We’re challenged to do more with less—and no one can afford to sit around without tackling the issue head on.

Continued success in our industry takes deploying new production technology and investing in your processes, your partners and the good people you do have. These are the thoughts that have gone into Quanex’s Plant Transformation strategy and how we’re helping customers build new efficiencies into their operations.

At first blush, the task can seem daunting. But reinventing your plant floor for the challenges of 2018 and beyond doesn’t have to happen all at once. It’s a process, implementing new initiatives where they make business sense along a path of continuous improvement. And it can be achieved by all fenestration manufacturers, big or small.

Here are a few ways you can realize Plant Transformation at any scale:

Think differently. It doesn’t take a major capital investment to take a critical eye to your own processes and ask yourself, “Is this the best way to accomplish this task?” Answers might not come immediately, and they might not always be easy, but consider a few scenarios:

  • Your spacer application for IG units is now automated but you haven’t adjusted your raw materials supply chain. You’ve found yourself scrambling to keep the pace of your new production capabilities.
 
  • You’ve installed software and barcoding to integrate IG processing, but employees are still relying on paper forms for unit tracking.
 
  • You have automated a few areas of your plant, but production is maxed out due to your available workforce. There’s demand to move more product out of your plant—but running a third shift to meet it doesn’t quite make sense.
There are ways to improve each of these scenarios. Raw materials supply needs to be considered along with every other operation in your plant when it comes to implementing new capabilities. Paper can and should be eliminated from plant floor operations when everything is trackable via software. And when your manpower isn’t meeting demand, an investment in greater automated capabilities could be the answer.

I’ve said it before: It’s not your grandfather’s shop floor anymore. It takes new approaches and new thinking to improve operations at every level.

Deepen your relationships and connections. There is a lot of value in outside perspectives when it comes to driving efficiency in your operations. That’s true at any level of sophistication on the plant floor and can be especially valuable if you’re taking up new initiatives.

And at a time when the industry is facing some widespread challenges, it takes working together to overcome them. Forging good working relationships with your vendors and partners can lead to greater success, no matter where you are in your journey toward continuous improvement.

Questions or comments? Contact me directly at Joe.Erb@Quanex.com.
 

For more information about Quanex visit www.quanex.com
Posted: October 04, 2018 by Joe Erb Filed under: insights, Plant, transformation