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Latest News in the Door and Windows Industry in Canada

Future Tech in Fenestration: A Report by David Nunn

Join us on a journey through the latest technological advancements as authored by industry consultant David Nunn.

I saw the future!

As a member of FENESTRATION Canada, I often receive invites for their events that may or may not be of interest to me. Recently, I did follow up on an invite for their “Spring event”. If you decided to give it a miss, you missed an opportunity to see the future of window and patio door manufacturing in Canada. Only one Canadian company has taken this advantage to date, but according to the company, there are more than a thousand machines presently being used around the world utilizing this groundbreaking technology. I believe this is the direction of the future!

Fenestration Canada, (FC.) has started arranging events where members and other staff, are invited to visit factories and manufacturing plants that offer a little more than just ” Window production!” FC offer visits to local factories to show our members how far manufacturing and production technology has progressed in the last few years. Leaps and bounds. The mind boggles at the range of machines and processes that are now available to all window manufacturers.

Last year at the FC fall event, I joined about 25 other members and visited the Toyota plant in Cambridge, to see vehicles being produced. Yes, we all know how far the auto industry has advanced and the amount of robots that are used to produce the cars that we see every day on our congested roads! It was nothing to do with Fenestration but everything to do with automation! As a consultant to the industry, I am often asked to do surveys etc, regarding different fenestration related subjects. At the Toyota event, I took as a guest John, one of the persons with whom I sometimes work. He assists me in gathering information. John knows almost nothing about windows or doors, but has an excellent memory. Sometimes, as I am well known, I am unable to visit places and ask questions. I need to have someone ask questions that a lay homeowner would ask! We both enjoyed the Toyota event immensely. These events also gives members the opportunity to chat with other windowmakers. Some of whom I have known for many years.

On May 1 st , the spring event, organized by Laine Atkins, of FC, was a visit to one of the new companies that are offering production machines & new technologies to our industry. Situated in Vaughn, GRAF Industries, is a 30 year old Italian company that opened a plant in Canada, just about two years ago. They offer production equipment for producing Vinyl & Aluminum windows and patio doors. The machines show they are produced to high standards of quality, operator safety & efficiency and utilize state of the art computerized technology. The machines are all coated with an attractive colour of red that makes them stand out in a busy work environment!

About 18 or so Fenestration members and staff attendees, were welcomed by the Director of Operations, Giacomo Zotta. (An obviously dedicated Italian engineer.) He provided us with an initial overview of the GRAF philosophy, with the aid of corner samples, demonstration possibilities and an excellent video of various manufacturing operations.

At this stage, many of us experienced “windowmakers” were thinking that this was just a sales presentation to introduce a new machinery supplier to the industry. The samples were of excellent quality, (as samples are expected to be!) but they also demonstrated that there were some very unique opportunities available for Canadian window manufacturers. I refer to corner samples that were of various colours, besides white, that also had integral weather seals, surface laminations, multiple projections and ç corner cleaned to extremely high level of quality. Far more extreme in range, than would usually come from a machinery manufacturer.

The video showed that using the GRAF equipment, full automation on the shop floor was available, utilizing the very minimum of staff and operator handling! (We are all aware of the problems of staff shortages and availability of qualified & skilled employees!) The video demonstrated this problem had been solved for the companies who had “Gone all of the way”! We then visited the machinery demonstration section, (the shop floor.) We saw all of the usual production machines such as computerized saws, single & double head welders, copy routers, corner cleaners and milling machines. All showing the excellent quality that GRAF offer. All machines look similar to the machines that are presently available for companies to purchase. The difference between many machines is the service that the manufacturer offers, the technical

help that is available and of course, the price! How much does it cost?

Giacomo explained that GRAF offer all of this equipment at reasonable pricing and full technical assistance, but that is not what they are demonstrating. These machines are readily available if required, but GRAF is not a large manufacturer of standard machines. Their direction is in the automation. He then took us to see their Four head corner cleaner! This is the future!

With a first look, the machine is similar in size, and shape to other machines in the market. It is of a horizontal design and lends itself to being part of a well-planned production line layout! GRAF say they will provide this layout design service to any customers.) The demonstration proceeded with the welding of several “boxes” of different profiles and shapes. The results were AMAZING!

The finished, welded and cleaned boxes that came off of the machine, were of different coloured vinyl, with or without woodgrain laminations, different materials such as aluminum clad vinyl and of excellent quality finish. These were the samples that we had seen previously. They had not been “doctored “ for our eyes, as we had thought! Magnificent!

  • All of the corner cleaning had been completed to a very high level of quality and the box was ready for the next operation, glazing or final assembly! (The complete elimination of the corner cleaning operation that every company presently has, either by hand or by machine!)

  • The welding fixtures were quite small and were changed to suit the different shape and size of profile, in a few seconds! (Presently, a profile change is a laborious procedure.)

  • The option to corner weld hybrid sections such as aluminum clad vinyl profiles, is a major breakthrough and cost saving.

  • Dust and other waste material was nonexistent as it was vacuumed away during the welding.

This four head welding operation, uses new technology and is fully patented. The corner cleaning within the cycle, is due to a patented cutting operation, that causes the welding to occur from within the profile, rather than from the outside. You are able to choose a smooth face or scored weld line. Comparisons to present welding strength and testing are available from GRAF.

GRAF claim to have sold over 1,000 of these machines all over the world, Italy, Germany, Japan, USA and India. Thay is why they do not produce many conventional welders.

An excellent visit! I urge Fenestration Canada to continue these events and to introduce members to the wonders of the future! I urge all members to try to attend future events. I am sure that, like me, you will learn a great deal.

David Nunn. CIM, P.Mgr, C.Mgr.

Manufacturing Personnel Services. (MPS.)

Consultant to the Fenestration industry.

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