Plavecsky's Ponderings By Jim Plavecsky
by Jim Plavecsky
February 12th, 2015

Fabrication Software Might Be the Tool that Gives You an Edge

With the window industry growing again and quality labor in short supply, window fabricators need to investigate every available option to increase production efficiency, reduce lead times and improve quality to remain competitive. That being said, a growing number of door and window customers, both large and small, are beginning to look into the benefits of window ordering and fabrication software.

These benefits begin on the front lines. They can make the salesperson much more efficient and speed the quotation process. Mobile software apps are available that allow the salesperson to capture photos, text or voice annotations for each door or window opening. The software then calculates dimensions of doors and windows in awkward positions for estimating quotes. Alternatively, exact dimensions can be entered if precise measurements are possible. This information is then transferred via the Internet directly to the fabrication facility to generate a quote, which then appears on the same mobile device. Later, when the customer accepts the quote, the order is placed with the same device and the fabrication process begins automatically.

Once sales orders have been created, software can then process them through the various stages of production with a range of optimization options and the ability to automate the manufacturing process. Once orders have been batched and scheduled for production, optimization software has a range of features to maximize production efficiency. This is accomplished by having the software create optimum production sequences with sub-batching programs to further improve production output. The software also uses material-optimization programs to minimize waste while calculating machining requirements.

Once the orders are transferred to production, the software can provide a variety of work instructions such as machine links to saws, work centers, welders, corner cleaners, glass cutting tables or automated insulating glass lines.

Labels and reports can be generated as well, with the ability to customize these using company logos and graphics. Barcode technology can be used to keep track of products as they’re fabricated and move through each stage of the manufacturing process.

Tracking is also made easy. Software can track data on the progress of frames, sashes and glass through the fabrication process, and reports can be generated on standard versus actual performance for each person, date and time. Talk about a way to track and facilitate continuous improvement!

The tracking software can also provide comprehensive work instructions for each workstation and operator. Reports can include comprehensive management information such as labor times and measures of production efficiency.

The benefits such software provides can be summarized in one sentence: It enables manufacturers to speed the process of delivering the highest quality unit at the fastest delivery time and at the most competitive price while maximizing the company’s profit.

So if you haven’t yet looked into window ordering and fabrication software as a means of increasing your company’s competitive position, it may be time to “get with the program” and check it out. And look for the upcoming software guide in the March issue of DWM magazine.

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  1. Jim,

    I may be a little biased but I think you are spot on with this one!

    Ron

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