May 04, 2018

Three Ways to Overcome Labor Challenges

by Joe Erb

Here’s a situation in which no window and door manufacturers want to find themselves:

It’s busy season—orders are up, magnified by a strong market and a healthy economy. You’re so busy, in fact, that you’ve maxed out your available employees. Numerous running lines and running extra shifts when labor is available have helped, but the reality is, you’re at capacity.

You’d make more products if you could. But you can’t.

Hypothetical? Not so much. This is the reality for fabricators and manufacturers all around the country—unable to meet their full potential due to high turnover rates, trouble filling positions, and existing workforces stretched beyond capacity.

No matter where I go these days, these are the conversations I’m having with customers. They’re looking for solutions and strategies to overcome a limit to their current potential.

Overcoming these kinds of labor challenges requires a multi-pronged approach. Here are a few ways to do it:

Your insulating glass lines. In just about every plant, your labor is best allocated at the highest-value points of production. And your spacer application process is one of those places. Warm-edge spacer technology, paired with new automated equipment available from a variety of different vendors, helps not only eliminate touchpoints to help you boost IG quality, but enables your employees to work smarter, safer, and more efficiently.

For example: The implementation of an automated line utilizing flexible spacer technology can bring the number of needed workers on an IG line down from nine to three, all while helping an operation produce more units per shift. With figures like those, making the investment in automation and a new spacer system can pay off quickly.

Your window and door profiles. As my colleague Eric Thompson has written recently, color options for vinyl windows are increasingly in demand. In the past, that might have necessitated allocating labor toward painting.

Today? Not necessarily. Available color technology eliminates the need for painting on your plant floor. Through a patented co-extrusion process, molecularly fused color becomes a part of the profile, delivering long-lasting durability and scratch resistance that saves time and labor.

Your screens production. Sometimes the “little things” cost you significantly more time—and labor—than you think.

No more is this true than when it comes to screens production. Often a major headache for window manufacturers, screens require attention to detail and exacting quality control. They’re also one of the primary sources of end user complaints.

Have you considered strategic outsourcing of screens through a dedicated vendor? With a partner that’s 100% focused on screens production, quality control among a variety of sizes and tolerances is no
problem. It can also significantly reduce the labor you’re spending on doing it yourself.

Questions or comments? Contact me directly at

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Posted: May 04, 2018 by Joe Erb Filed under: industry, Labor Shortage, Plant