I may be a lone voice, but, having spent so many years building Euroglaze into one of the most efficient fabricators in the UK, I’m struggling to understand why there seems to be a growing consensus around the idea that the market now needs to be re-educated to accept longer lead times.
I accept there are supply issues at the moment, on glass, hardware and particularly on coloured profile, which are obviously impacting on many people’s ability to get orders out the door. However, these are just temporary and shouldn’t, in my opinion, be used to justify any kind of inefficiency moving forward.
I’ve read comments in the press and online over recent weeks that it would be better for the market if installers, who generally have a few weeks’ work booked in, accepted lead times of 7-14 days. This, it is argued, would give fabricators more time to ramp up volumes, eliminate mistakes and get their quality consistently right which, in the long run, would benefit their customers.
Frankly, I just don’t see any justification for that position. Why should installers have to adapt their business model to accommodate the deficiencies of their supplier?
At Euroglaze, we are still offering our standard Rehau white windows on a 3 and a half day lead time, with almost zero errors. As long as we have the components in stock, there’s a maximum 90 minutes of operator interaction required to make that window. Using Kanban lean production methods, we know exactly how many windows we can make in a day and we can set a daily cap based on that capacity, without any work in progress backlog.
Post lockdown, and in response to the surge in demand, we’ve restructured our entire operation onto a continental shift pattern which has doubled our capacity with just a 25% increase in manpower. We tell customers as soon as they place an order whether any items are out of stock so that there are no nasty surprises when they get their delivery and we give them a guaranteed lead time.
We’re not the cheapest in the market obviously, and nor we would want to be if that meant compromising on either quality or efficiency. We do save our customers’ money though, because they know that their orders will be right first time and they won’t have to struggle with missing items, rejects or remedials.
The pandemic will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on this industry, but it doesn’t have to be entirely negative. If it forces manufacturers to become more efficient and puts an end to the race to the bottom on price, then it will be installers, who are the lifeblood of this industry, who will ultimately benefit.