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New Efficiencies to Cultivate Success

It’s critical to constantly assess all aspects of the operation to keep glazing businesses competitive and thriving

The Bottom Line: By keeping an open mind to all areas where performance advantages can be gained, opportunities to improve efficiencies will become apparent and forward-thinking glazing businesses will prosper.

installation of glass railing
Photo courtesty of CRL.

The glazing community is one of the most resilient professional groups out there. As markets evolve and economic issues trouble the industry, glazing contractors have marched forward and gotten the job done.

But for businesses, both big and small, it’s critical to constantly assess all aspects of the operation—revenues and expenditures, core processes that impact ordering and delivery, installation, and customer service commitments. This never-ending quest to do things smarter, better and more efficiently keeps glazing businesses competitive and capable of thriving in a changing marketplace.

Labor still a challenge

Staffing issues have impacted the glazing industry for years. The issue is two-fold: being able to bring on capable employees that can competently perform installation tasks, and identifying knowledgeable staff that can estimate and quote sophisticated or large jobs.
It’s no easy task. Staffing issues have besieged many industries since the pandemic. It’s an ongoing challenge for glaziers, yet construction continues, and clients demand the work gets done.

Start with processes

Identifying opportunities to increase efficiencies starts with an unbiased look at the business’ core competencies—estimating, invoicing, processing, delivery, installation and support. Where is there waste? Where can improvements be made? What communication, investments and training are needed to achieve the desired goals? An accurate analysis—followed by a clear plan, complete with action items and milestones—is the first step on the journey of achieving greater efficiencies.

Leverage technology

Technology remains an excellent avenue for finding ways to improve performance across teams, save time, streamline processes, eliminate paperwork and more. When employees understand how digital solutions can help them perform their duties more effectively, and are supported with proper training, they typically become enthusiastic about putting new software tools to use.

With options including online estimating, quoting and ordering software, there are multiple opportunities to save time, money and labor. Once you identify business areas in which to leverage specific technologies, consider starting small then expanding to the full staff over a predetermined timeframe. Be sure to identify internal champions to advise on deployment and advocate among team members throughout the implementation process.

Explore new products

Manufacturers continue to improve their products in two distinct ways: first, the overall performance and/or aesthetics of the product that provides advantages to building owners, and second, new approaches that save glaziers time and effort during the installation processes. It is the latter advantage that will address the glazing contractor’s need to circumvent the labor shortage.

Innovations like modular door rail systems give glaziers greater control over when, where and how door rails are installed, adjusted and updated. Unlike standard door rails, modular door rails feature independent side covers and end caps that can be easily installed or replaced without having to remove the door from the pivot. Rail bodies can also be moved along the glass to accommodate standard or custom door lengths. This empowers glaziers to complete jobs more quickly by virtually eliminating lead times on custom glass doors because modular door rail parts can be stocked and assembled at will.

When projects allow it, leveraging unitized systems is an extremely efficient way to streamline the installation process and save money. For example, unitized glass railing systems feature base shoe units that are glazed in a manufacturer’s facility, then shipped to the jobsite, ready to install. The glass arrives perfectly plum and leveled within the base shoe unit to provide precise sightlines, saving glaziers time and labor.

Improve installation tools

Field installation tools can also make glazing teams more productive and safer. Electric vacuum pumps and one-man glass-lifting levers are two recently introduced tools.

Electric vacuum pumps work on both glass and non-porous surfaces. One push of a button delivers suction to efficiently move heavy panes to installation sites, allowing for a safe installation that is faster and less strenuous.

New glass lifting levers are designed for precision positioning of large-format glass. They can be used with standard glass vacuum cups to precisely position glass for final install, allowing for faster and safer installations with smaller crews.

Conclusion

Constantly striving for efficiency is a mindset that must dominate all business sectors, including the glazing industry. The need to identify ways to do things better, faster and with fewer staff, all the while maintaining the highest quality and safety standards, is the industry’s goal.
Luckily, glaziers are a resourceful community, capable of evaluating their businesses and their processes, then quickly adapting. It’s not always easy, but by keeping an open mind to all of the areas where performance advantages can be gained—back-office processes, install procedures, tools and technology—opportunities to improve efficiencies will become apparent and forward-thinking glazing businesses will prosper.

Author

Mark Suehiro

Mark Suehiro

Mark Suehiro is director of architectural hardware and entrances for C.R. Laurence Co.  He can be reached at mark_suehiro@crlaurence.com.