New equipment, including automated technology, and increased production capabilities are on the way for Viwinco Windows in Morgantown, Pa., as its new 70,000-square-foot glass processing facility nears completion. Michael Duncan, Jr., general manager, says the goal is to have a fully-operational facility by the end of quarter two or the beginning of quarter three, 2022.
A few years ago, Viwinco decided to purchase a lot across the street from its Morgantown location to address a bottleneck in production. Duncan says the new site allows for increased capacity and a better product.
“We’re looking at much more impressive technology, state-of-the-art equipment, and automation to move us forward,” Duncan says.
That includes “two exciting pieces of equipment,” a new tempering furnace, and improvements to the laminating line. The company’s impact-resistant product line sold in hurricane-prone areas along the coast is growing. The new equipment will allow Viwinco to increase the production of those products and their quality.
“This tempering oven has a much higher capacity, from one lite versus four with the new one,” Duncan says. “The capacity growth is significant, and because of some of the technology they have, we can get a lot more precise with how we’re processing and heating the glass to give us a higher quality as well. It’s a significant capacity increase and a much higher quality of tempered glass.”
The laminating line will now operate continuously thanks to three presses. Duncan says rather than having to wait hours to reload the machine, the additional presses will provide a “continuous flow.” The installation process for both pieces of equipment began earlier this month.
Aside from a capacity increase and improved quality, Duncan says the move will help streamline Viwinco’s operations.
“Right now, if you look at the flow of the existing glass shop, there are a lot of things going forward and back,” Duncan says. “In the new shop, things are laid out much more streamlined, in individual cells. Right now, we have two cutting tables, and in the new facility, we have four cutting tables. I think it’s a much more simplified and streamlined product flow that will help big time.”
While the project will incorporate new automation technology, Duncan says Viwinco continues to add more employees. With the completion of the new facility and incorporation of automation, some employees will be free to transition to other vital roles. Plus, additional automation means more people are needed to maintain the machines, which is why the company is investing into such departments.
“The building is pretty much complete,” Duncan says. “The building shell is done, and we’re finishing up the offices. The building is in good shape, and probably here in a couple months we will be 100% complete.”
COVID-19 resulted in extended lead times across the industry, with Viwinco also seeing a backlog. But with some operations continuing at the current shop, the transitional phase to the new facility will allow both to work in tandem to help address that backlog. Duncan calls that an “unintended benefit based on current market conditions.”
The new facility will also free up space at the original facility to expand vinyl operations in what Duncan calls Phase 2 of the project.
“Even after this, half of our main building, the current shop, will be a blank slate,” Duncan says. “In Phase 2, we can expand the vinyl shop. That’s as exciting, if not more exciting, than this project.”