June 25, 2020

Trends to Watch for Through the Rest of 2020

by Guest Blogger

It’s been an eventful year so far, hasn’t it?

In January, I don’t think anyone could have predicted the situation we’d find ourselves in by June. Market optimism was on the upswing and many probably believed the most eventful thing to happen this year would be the presidential election.

That’s certainly changed. Right now, as the country gradually and cautiously reopens after widespread lockdowns to prevent spread of the coronavirus, our industry and others are shifting to a “new normal.” While not what we might have expected early in the year, demand seems to be picking back up, and fenestration pros who are ahead of the curve on a few trends may weather the storm more easily than others.

Here are a few things I’m looking at for the rest of the year, and beyond:

Manufacturing as we know it has changed. If you’re a window or glass manufacturer, you know precautions against viral spread have dramatically changed daily operations. As I wrote a few weeks ago, a safety-first mentality is always important, but it’s especially so right now as we implement social distancing and other policies on shop floors.

But as demand picks back up, production efficiency is paramount, too. Automated equipment can be a major help in making quality products efficiently all while minimizing touchpoints and helping keep workers the appropriate distance from each other. I expect it’s likely that these measures will remain in place for a long time, and manufacturers must be considering new ways to maximize their business while operating this way. Automation can be a helpful part of the equation.

Meanwhile, the labor shortage that our industry has struggled with for years isn’t going away. If you’re contending with capacity issues already due to labor, those might be compounded by COVID-prevention measures. New strategies might be necessary. One option to consider is outsourcing the manufacture of lower-value components, like window and door screens. Working with a reliable third party can help take one task off your plate so your people can put heightened focus on higher-value components.

Efficiency demands are here to stay. No matter what operational challenges fenestration professionals might be dealing with, the reality of today’s market is one of increasingly heightened performance demands. Driven by stringent new building codes and a heightened interest in total indoor occupancy comfort, thermal performance can no longer be compromised, no matter the application.

Utilizing the right technology to meet these demands is more important than ever before. I expect we’ll see increasing adoption of warm-edge spacers, which have proven themselves over time to be ideal for everything from residential homes to the most demanding commercial applications. And while vinyl profiles have found great success in the residential space over the course of the past few decades, there is new potential in commercial, too. From a thermal efficiency perspective, vinyl has an advantage over traditional metallic frames, and newer high-performance formulations demonstrate the required structural strength for a variety of applications and can help drive lower U-factors in combination with other technologies.

In-demand aesthetics. The next time you see a newly constructed multifamily or condo complex, take a closer look—there’s pretty good odds you’ll find stylish black window frames throughout the building.
Black profiles—both on interiors and exteriors—are in high demand right now, offering a striking, modern aesthetic in a variety of new construction. Delivering on that demand requires finding the right way to offer color, and vinyl offers another advantage here. Black (or other contemporary colors) can be co-extruded into the vinyl frame, offering long-lasting durability, while additionally eliminating the extra steps required of something like painting. I’m expecting continued demand for black window profiles, and window makers who want to remain on the cutting edge should be investigating the best way to deliver.

Questions or comments? Contact me directly at Larry.Johnson@Quanex.com

For more information about Quanex visit www.quanex.com
Posted: June 25, 2020 by Guest Blogger Filed under: automation, color, IG, plant safety