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Volume 6   Issue 6                July  2005


Argon - Yeah, It's In There
by Mike Burk

You don’t have to work in the window industry very long before you stop looking through windows and you start looking at windows. You quickly reach the point where you start to embarrass friends and family as you twist your neck attempting to discover who built the window next to your table in a restaurant. 

But it gets worse—it’s progressive, you can’t help it. You feel the need to mess with the minds of people who are selling windows. Trade shows, home and flower shows, the display at the mall or even the phone call at home provide the perfect opportunity to demonstrate your comprehension of fenestration facts.

At one shopping mall display, I was standing in the background thoroughly enjoying the justification for low-E, krypton-filled triple units with diamond grids when a woman asked, “How will I know if the gas has leaked out? The salesperson quickly replied, “I will put a sticker on your window that will change color if the gas escapes.” 

No, I’m not making this up. However, this does bring up some interesting questions. How does the consumer know that your units are initially filled correctly? Why should they trust that they will remain filled? “Yeah, it’s in there” is no longer acceptable for the consumer.

Training is Essential
The same questions apply to your production associates. How do members of your insulating glass (IG) department know that your units are initially filled correctly, and why should they trust that the units will remain filled? “Yeah, it’s in there” is no longer acceptable for your company either.

Production associates must understand the reason units are gas-filled. They need to understand the energy savings provided by argon and other gases. An introduction to U-values and the Energy Star® program would be a great start. Follow this introduction with a basic physics lesson. They need to understand the properties of the gas and why the use of inert gases can make windows more energy-efficient. They also need to know that the gas is colorless, odorless and non-flammable. They need to know that argon exists naturally in the air and that it is not harmful to them.

Associates who operate argon-filling equipment must be trained and tested on the operation and calibration of the filling and testing equipment. They require the proper tools to inspect and measure the fill levels of the finished units. Employees must also have a thorough understanding of IG unit construction and seal integrity requirements.

Management Responsibilities
Management is responsible for the training and development of the production workers. It is up to the management team to determine and define the initial gas fill levels of their products. In addition, management should evaluate the company’s sales and marketing materials to ensure that the gas fill information is conveyed clearly to its customers. The company’s warranty regarding initial gas fill levels and gas retention should be reviewed to ensure that it clearly reflects the company’s policy.

What is the initial gas fill level of the units you are manufacturing? Do your manufacturing associates understand the required procedures for gas filling? Is your gas filling equipment tested and calibrated? Are your finished units tested internally and certified by a third party? Does your warranty policy address gas initial fill levels or gas retention?

There are a number of sources available to window manufacturers to assist with these questions. A good place to locate these resources is through the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA). Their website (www.igmaonline.org) provides links to IG equipment manufacturers, test laboratories and third-party certification organizations. 

Please go easy on the next window salesperson you encounter, but let me know if you come across any of those stickers that change color if the gas escapes.

Mike Burk serves as training manager for GED Integrated Solutions in Twinsburg, Ohio. 

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