Volume 9, Issue 7 - July-August 2008
IGMA Overload: Argon, Visual Quality and Other Topics Were on Summer Agenda
When members of the Insulating Glass Manu-facturers Alliance (IGMA) met recently during their summer meeting they worked to address various industry issues related to insulating glass manufacturing. The meeting was held in mid-June at the Westin Resort & Spa in Whistler, B.C.
The gas permeability working group was very productive early in the meeting, having agreed to recommend to the IGMA board of directors to accept CAN-BEST’s request for proposal (RFP) to develop a test protocol for argon permeability through insulating glass (IG) units. In addition to choosing a test lab, the group also made decisions on which sealant and spacer types to study, as well as a decision to focus on 6-inch samples. Following the board’s approval and final “tweaking” of the request for proposal, the group expects to move forward on this research.
The glazing guidelines working group session chaired by Ken Shelbourn of Truseal Technologies looked at the early work of a joint task group between IGMA and the Glass Association of North America (GANA) for the development of guidelines and recommended practices for capillary tubes. The goal of the joint document is to address the “when and the why” of using these tubes, noted Tracy Rogers of Edgetech, who chairs the task group.
The group also added categories to consider on its preliminary chart on identification of the conditions for the use of capillary tubes.
“These are guidelines. The biggest focus right now is looking at all the info that’s out there and putting it under one umbrella … this isn’t a specification,” Rogers said.
In addition, the certification and education committee held a meeting during which it continued working on its IG manufacturing quality procedures educational seminar. The seminar is being developed to help companies focus on quality control. The group discussed how best to create a session that would be educational for both large and small IG manufacturers.
“I see something like this being a tool used across the industry,” commented Rogers.
The visual quality working group also met during the summer session.
In January, the group had resolved to keep the visual quality guidelines document as one document that would address differences in commercial and residential visual obstructions, rather than separating it into two separate documents addressing these variations. The document had been distributed for further review and, at this meeting, one negative and several “approved with comments” were reviewed.
Among other items, there was discussion on an appropriate definition of a “sightline,” and, specifically, whether the document’s definition referred to an installed insulating glass (IG) unit’s sightline or that of a standalone unit. Ultimately the question was resolved by adding a definition for “daylight opening” to refer to installed units. The language for the definition was drafted quickly during the meeting to help move the document along; this language and other editorial changes will be re-balloted.
The technical services committee met as well. During this meeting, committee members voted to form a task group addressing a proposal that had been resubmitted to evaluate the GasGlass device. According to IGMA executive director Margaret Webb, Bodycote Testing Group had submitted a proposal “that is on the dollar amount a lot more palpable.”
Webb reported that some initial data has been collected and has shown that “if you couldn’t control the light you couldn’t get a reading,” indicating that there would be some benefit to members in evaluating the tool and how best to use it. While the committee approved a task group to review this more closely, it was also noted that the proposal should be adapted in some part to tighten the research and better reflect IGMA’s needs.
The next IGMA meeting will be held February 2-6, 2009, in San Diego.
“As we continue working with a growing base of IG manufacturers in North America, we found that the commercial and residential IG segments are distinct enough to justify separate sales and service structures to meet specific customer and market needs,” says Mark Silverberg, president of Technoform North America. “This evolution perfectly complements our customer and market-centric strategy; it enables us to offer highly customized service and support to each segment.”
Each sector will continue to operate from Technoform’s Twinsburg, Ohio, headquarters. As part of the alignment, Technoform promoted Milind Jhaveri to the position of residential market manager. Silverberg will retain the position of I-Spacer commercial market manager in addition to serving as president.
Jhaveri has been with the company since 2005. As residential market manager, he is responsible for sales, marketing and strategic planning functions within Technoform’s I-Spacer residential scope of operations. He also will spearhead personnel development initiatives throughout the year. Jhaveri previously served as a sales engineer and interim marketing manager for Technoform’s I-Strut thermal insulating strut.
FeneTech Brings Competitors Together to Share Ideas
“This was the biggest surprise to me,” says Thelma Hyer, a first-time attendee from Wincore Windows, based in Parkersburg, W.Va. “Even though we are competitors, we are not in a way, as attendees are willing to share information. They know you’re not there to steal customers or secrets. I was blown away.”
One of the main benefits of the conference, according to FeneTech customers, is this sharing of information as one manufacturer may learn from another of functions of the program that they didn’t know existed.
“I learned how other manufacturers handle returns,” says Hyer. “Anyone who attends will come away with a ton of information.”
Lisa Thompson, director of administration for Magnolia Windows in Baldwin, Ga., attended her first conference when she started with the company six years ago to get familiar with the system, and says at that time the company wasn’t utilizing the entire system.
“Now we are utilizing it more and we gained a great deal from the group discussions during the conference related to the different features.”
Another important item to Thompson was being able to meet the FeneVision staff in person, which she says makes it even easier to work together.
According to FeneTech, the companies in attendance represented the spectrum of the market. Some, like Joe Shoots from sunroom and window and door maker Vinyl Design Corporation in Toledo, report significant growth and are investing in new facilities and capabilities. Sound Solutions in Chicago has made two recent acquisitions and managers are exploring potential new niche markets.
Others, especially those in new construction, have reduced employment heading into the expected summer slowdown. One recently laid off about half its employees.
But, at Wincore, a new company that started in January 2007, Hyer says they’ve posted growth each month. Magnolia also reports that sales are staying the same, as they’ve been able to earn new customers to make up for current customers that aren’t able to place the same amount of sales as they have in recent years.
Serious Materials Acquires Alpen Windows
“Adding Alpen to our family of companies lets us offer highly energy-efficient windows and glass immediately,” says Kevin Surace, chief executive officer of Serious Materials.
“Serious Materials and Alpen together will finally make high-performance windows mainstream,” adds Robert Clarke, founder of Alpen. “Our visions match, and we’re looking forward to rapid growth in the United States and abroad.”
Luxury Windows Closes China Manufacturing Plant
According to Krumme, the company’s plant manager in China died unexpectedly last year of kidney failure, and since then, the company has experienced longer lead times and has received scratched glass in its products from the Chinese facility.
At press time, production at the new facility was scheduled to resume on July 4.
Dow Building Solutions Announces Price Increases
“The price of oil has risen drastically over the past year—80 percent—and natural gas prices have increased by 40 percent,” says Torsten Kraef, president and general manager for Dow Building Solutions. “The building materials industry, like many other Dow businesses, is feeling the pain of this phenomenon at many levels.”