D&W Windows has been in the fenestration business since 1955. This family owned and operated business knows a thing or two about offering the most beautiful windows, doors, sunrooms, awnings, and more, around. But its real talent lies in how it manufactures its fenestration products with the help of automated length stops.
D&W is special in that it manufactures all of the windows and sunrooms that it sells in-house. There’s no middleman, no outsourcing to foreign lands, everything is manufactured under one roof (one very large roof to be exact). It helps that the factory is a whopping 65,000 square foot state of the art facility located in Davison, MI.
Its efforts have not gone unnoticed either. D&W Windows and Sunrooms has been recognized many times, locally and nationally, as one of the most progressive innovators and leaders in its industry. D&W Windows is famous for imagining the world’s first all vinyl and wood composite sunroom with no exposed fasteners, which it coined the Super Room® sunroom. The Super Room® is sold in the local Michigan market as well as nationally through the company's network of dealers.
Among D&W's competitive advantages is its team of highly dedicated staff who are constantly seeking to improve and refine manufacturing processes.
Mike Wood, D&W’s Plant Manager, has been in the business a long time and knows exactly what his customers want. “Our main bread and butter comes from the fenestration industry. We have a selection of products ranging from sunrooms, windows, retractable awnings. But we are known for our bath wraps because we come in and we redo a bathroom in one day.”
Mike explains that the entire factory is set up based on how many windows can be produced per person per day. This makes it possible to easily identify problems in production, such as human error and machinery problems. While D&W remains a powerhouse in the fenestration industry, it was not always smooth sailing for the company.
Marty May, longtime D&W employee reminisces to when he first started his career with the company. It didn’t take him long to realize there was a large problem with inaccurately cut window and door parts. Back then, “the human error was so much greater. Nobody could really read a tape measure,” and that’s exactly where the most amount of error came in to play. This was before the company had invested in automation for its saws. “If you’re building one window and you make a mistake, that’s bad. But if you’re building 50 windows one size, and you’ve set the wrong setting, you’ve made scrap all day long,” explains Marty. “At four-five dollars a foot for material …..if you’re throwing away 3 feet of vinyl, you’re throwing away a whole lot of money.”
To tackle the scrap issue, D&W purchased a TigerStop length stop for one of its saws. Rather than pulling a tape, marking parts, and cutting them- all the operators had to do was type in the correct measurement, press start, and cut. The process was so much faster than soon the company invested in additional automated stops. “Everywhere we have a saw, we use a TigerStop.”Marty sums it up perfectly: "Time is money. Bottom line.”
Not only has the automation saved in terms of scrap waste, it has saved tremendous amounts of time. Tom Anderson, operator at D&W, explains how he used to go about his job prior to using TigerStop equipment:
“With the old stop block and a ruler, I had to, hopefully, move it an 1/8 inch and hope for the best that it was going to be on. I’d have to come in an hour or two early to cut a job ahead of time. We got TigerStop linear positioners from Wakefield Equipment and that totally changed the game. Using a TigerStop cuts the time in half, maybe a little more than that, and makes it so much easier."
Plant operator Aaron Burdette agrees. From experience, Aaron knows that using a tape to measure and mark parts wastes a great deal of time, especially if you have a manual stop that keeps sliding out of place. The TigerStops have been at D&W windows longer than Aaron has been working there- but they still run as easily as the day they were purchased. “We had two TigerStops here when I started and now we have seven. I can’t imagine not having them."
Today, the factory is humming along beautifully. Plant Manager Mike Wood credits a large portion of the success to reducing scrap waste and labor time.
“There’s two things that cost a window manufacturer extra money. Labor and materials. The act of walking back and forth to set manual stops, that’s a lot of extra labor costs. We were putting out between 4-6 boxes of scrap per day and with the addition of TigerStops on numerous saws, we’ve cut our scrap down to 1-2 boxes per day.”
“TigerStops run true, and they run long. In a matter of 12 years I’ve had one that I’ve had to work on out of the 7 we have in our facility. It was a situation of an operator error, burning the motor out, and TigerStop and Wakefield Equipment had a new motor here for me in approximately a day and a half.”