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March  2004

Fenestration Focus


Productivity and Profitability
Improving Efficiency Through Glazing Choices
by Bruce R. Fitch

Productivity is the key to profitability. The sooner manufacturers can ship finished products, the sooner they have room for more production, and the faster the entire production chain runs. The more efficient process naturally yields improved profitability.

Emerging Efficiencies
So how does a window fabricator achieve this ideal of efficiency? Newer glazing compounds have several characteristics to help window manufacturers improve production efficiencies and profitability, including:

Instant green strength. The accelerated green strength properties of Instant Strength Reactive Urethanes (ISRUs)–even to low surface energy substrates like vinyl, fiberglass and textured paint finishes–allow production workers to move, shrink-wrap and stack windows for shipping immediately after glazing insulating glass units into the sash. Immediate handling is possible as the high adhesive green strength prevents glass sliding and misalignments that may occur when windows glazed with other materials are moved too soon.

Quicker shipping; less work in progress. As soon as window glazing and packaging are completed, manufacturers using an ISRU can ship their products. The higher structural strength of this sealant option eliminates bottlenecks in production (such as waiting for recently glazed windows to cure) that may occur when using traditional glazing sealants. The quicker time-to-shipment feature of ISRU-glazed windows also shortens manufacturing lead times, providing quicker turnaround on rush production orders.

Reduced overhead and labor. Faster shipping capabilities free up valuable production floor space, reducing the overhead costs of storing completed, uncured windows. In addition, labor costs are reduced because windows can be moved much faster in-line through the packing and shipping chain instead of being stacked for curing and then handled for shipping preparation.

Less material use; easier cleanup. Because of their high strength characteristics, ISRUs generally require smaller bead sizes compared to silicone sealants. These smaller beads virtually eliminate product squeeze-out that might normally occur when placing glass in the window sash, thereby eliminating almost all labor needs for cleanup. In addition, using less material per unit lowers the frequency of supply drum changes, reducing downtime and labor needs.

Fast final cure; improved quality. Compared to other glazing options, ISRUs provide accelerated curing times. Faster curing is especially beneficial for hurricane impact constructions as testing can be performed within three days instead of the weeks required by some alternative glazing methods. The combination of instant green strength and faster final cure also averts warped, bowed or leaky sashes (notably on large special windows and patio doors) and reduces the need for edge blocking (another time and cost saver that also helps reduce glass breakage).

Improved automation options. As with any glazing procedure, precision of application is key. ISRUs can be used in automatic or semi-automatic application equipment and on an X-Y table to supply this precision and smaller bead size, greatly reducing the chance of squeeze-out.

Improved aesthetics. Silicone fluid may permeate through the coating in self-cleaning glass units, causing noticeable blemishes near the sash perimeter, or through wood substrates, affecting sash painting and staining. The unique chemical construction of ISRUs prevents fluid permeation for complete compatibility with self-cleaning glass and wood windows.

Productivity for Profitability
As much as productivity measures flow downstream in the production process, improvements in the process also work their way upstream. A variety of glazing sealants designed to improve process efficiencies are available in the market today. The simple, but key, choice of glazing materials could lead to improved efficiencies throughout the entire production process and, more importantly, to greater profits. 

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