Technology has left its mark on the glass, glazing and fenestration industries over the years. Whether it be robotics or automation, technological advancements have allowed companies to solve various issues, such as supply chain shortages and workforce challenges. This also rings true for software, which was front and center at last week’s Glass Expo Rocky Mountain™ ’23 in Denver (Aurora), Colo.
DJ Pavlock is director of sales and marketing for TRUE Contactor Software, which provides web-based, customizable enterprise resource planning applications for commercial and residential glaziers. He says software has become a critical component for companies seeking to manage and control functions with a single solution.
Digitalization allows companies to stay organized and helps them to turn the focus from paperwork to groundwork, Pavlock suggests, also allowing smaller companies to adapt to the tides of change more readily.
“We see a lot of family-owned businesses,” he says. “The younger generations are coming up and taking over. Younger sons and daughters, who grew up with an iPhone in their hands, are more used to technology. So, we see a lot of folks go from pen and paper to programs and applications that are inclusive.”
Along with full management control, software also helps some companies streamline billing, says Charlotte Bohnett, head of marketing for Siteline, a software provider based out of San Francisco. The company was co-founded by Gloria Lin, who has previous experience in the contractor field.
Siteline offers collaborative billing and payment solutions to digitize payment applications. By digitizing the process, Bohnett suggests that firms can bill projects in half the time.
“Our clients typically see an increase in speed to payment by about two weeks,” she says.
She adds that software can also automate lien waiver collection, allow companies to track the accounts receivable process and see the financial health of the entire payment cycle.
While Siteline has customers throughout all trades, Bohnett says its biggest representation is in the glass industry.
Other software providers target a wider range of operations. Officials for Orgadata USA say their company aims to digitize the glazing industry “front to back.” William Downing, the company’s operations manager, claims that software has the capability to streamline entire projects for glass companies, including ordering from manufacturers and producing optimizations from the shop, to feeding fabrication information to computer numerical control (CNC) machines. Data can also be fed to accounting software, inventory software and other platforms.
But Downing says that U.S. companies have been slow to adapt, compared to their Canadian and European counterparts.
“The U.S. is 10 years behind Europe, and Canada is another two years behind the U.S. when it comes to adopting technology,” he says.
He believes that the reason is cost. Higher energy costs in Europe have forced companies to find ways to become leaner while maintaining productivity, and technology has been a key factor in achieving those goals. However, Downing has noticed an uptick in stateside customers becoming more interested in digitalization to mitigate the effect of labor challenges.
“If they can do more with software instead of hiring more people, then that’s what they’re going to do,” he says.