Fenestration Innovation
by Ray Garries
March 20th, 2024

Unveiling Innovation

Innovation is the heartbeat of progress, especially in our industry. It’s the fuel that propels us forward, pushing boundaries, and redefining what’s possible. Recently, the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA) hosted its third annual innovation forum, offering a glimpse into how selected companies accomplish innovation. The week after, the International Builders’ Show (IBS) showcased a plethora of cutting-edge advancements. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the highlights of both events, exploring the groundbreaking innovations that are reshaping the landscape of construction and beyond.

FGIA Innovation Session: Pioneering the Future

The FGIA’s innovation forum featured three diverse manufacturers who recently received recognition for innovation. YKK Windows and Doors, Erdman Machinery, and PGTI Windows were the featured speakers. I served as the moderator. The core of the forum was a focus on how AI is used and how it will be used in the future. A live survey of the session, which was attended by over 120 members, showed that compared to a Forbes national survey, FGIA members were at 37% in “Just investigating” AI implementation, compared to 20% nationally, and only 7% in “Visible to customers” AI implementation versus 26% nationally. Clearly, as an industry we have some work to do using AI to assist our operations.

From left to right: me (Ray Garries), Mike Turner, president of YKK’s commercial business group, Morgan Donahue, owner of Erdman Automation, and Dean Ruark, vice president of engineering and innovation for PGT Innovations.

Mike Turner, president of YKK’s commercial business group, highlighted the company’s use of technology and its new Research and Innovation center in Pittsburgh. He discussed digital transformation and how important it is to make progress on VR, simulated factory twins and robotic inspection.

Morgan Donahue, owner of Erdman Automation, explained how important understanding the current state of technology prior to building automation. He covered how to set real goals for productivity and safety while planning for innovative machines, while highlighting the importance of a great team. Erdman’s offering of the new FlexScreen automation system demonstrated their latest innovation.

Dean Ruark, vice president of engineering and innovation for PGT Innovations (PGTI) explained how PGTI’s bases its innovation projects on real needs, along with the importance of piloting new products. He emphasized the glazing innovations the company focuses on and the need for your team to be constantly curious.

More information on this forum is available to FGIA members on their website: FGIA – Innovation Roundtable Addresses Role of AI, Automation, More at FGIA Annual Conference (fgiaonline.org).

IBS Show Highlights: Where Innovation Meets Inspiration

The International Builders’ Show (IBS) is renowned for being a hotbed of innovation, and this year was no exception. The show was the largest in 15 years with 2,400 booths and 117,000 visitors. The show floor was buzzing with excitement as attendees got a firsthand look at the latest products and technologies shaping the future of construction. Some of the highlights I noted from my visit are as follows.
PGTI showed a very large Mag-Lev door that has almost no force required to move, its thin-triple glass display, and a Seamless Window Wall by the company’s Windoor division.

Pella demonstrated its new installation innovation that allows windows to be safely and efficiently installed from only the inside, with one person.

Sierra Pacific was demonstrating the new and improved Click electrochromic glazing by Cardinal.

Plastpro showed its new black fiberglass door with color embedding in lieu of a coated surface.

Den Smart Strike showed its new strike-side door lock that works with other door hardware.

Renovate Robotics unveiled a new roofing robot that installs shingles on any roof—another example of how robotics will affect our industry.

And IBS lists their own choices here: Most Innovative Start-Ups Came Together at IBS 2024 | Know The Show (buildersshow.com).

Smart home technology was another major highlight of the show. From integrated home automation systems to energy-efficient appliances, the future of home living is becoming increasingly connected and intelligent. With the rise of IoT (Internet of Things) devices, homeowners now have greater control over their environments, from adjusting lighting and temperatures to monitoring security and energy usage.

Bridging the Gap: Connecting Innovation Across Platforms

While the FGIA Innovation Session and IBS were separate events, they both shared a common goal: to showcase the latest innovations driving the industry forward. By learning and taking inspiration from these events, we can foster collaboration, spark creativity, and accelerate the pace of innovation.

Keep innovating!
Ray

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