The Phillips Products glass window manufacturing plant in Elkhart, IN found it could get more out of its space while netting the bonus of product quality by installing Goff Enterprises flexible Curtain Walls in their production area.
According to Plant Manager Noel Townsend, “in just a short time with little disruption to the operation the curtain walls were able to create for us a cleanroom area.”
Philips builds their quality windows to order. Philips Products supplies windows and doors for manufactured housing, recreational vehicles, as well as site-built homes. For over 40 years, Philips Products has been making high quality windows and doors that are in thousands of homes across the country.
Phillips has made intensive efforts in quality assurance, and working with glass has its special challenges. Along with its fragileness and sharp edges, every quality minded company wants their windows to arrive at the production or job site free of smudges and smears. In addition, glass can build up a charge which magnetically attracts any debris lofting through the plant.
Noel points out “the glass product arrive smudge free because we mainly handle the edges. Our packaging helps and everyone wears gloves.”
Strong demand for their product means they are continually thinking of strategies to keep up with production while still being able to hit profit targets. This means getting the most use of their existing location that dates back 132 years.
Prior to the curtain installation there was a large space between the saws that cut vinyl frames. There the employees were trimming the glass that will eventually go into the frames and were able to work without affecting the other operation.
Recently Phillips added another glass line that took up their additional business but it also took up that gap. The washer Phillips used to clean off the glass panes was too close to the saws and the other production area, resulting in some possible contamination of dust or vinyl shavings between the double pane sections making up an exterior window.
Aside from the duct work in the factory that can make particles airborne, in the sawing area at the end of the day air hoses blow dust and shavings off the floor into a pile for clean up. This debris led them to the idea of putting up some type of a wall.
Naturally at first the thought was to erect a more permanent wall. Then Noel came across information on the Goff’s Curtain Walls.
The Curtain Walls give the Phillips operation the flexibility to create a space within their plant exactly to the specifications the work requires. The curtains close off a 15,000 sq. ft. area using a 150 ft curtain, representing roughly half of the building.
The Curtain Walls can withstand tough industrial environments such as those found at the Phillips plant. The heavy-duty upper and lower opaque PVC sections weight in at 14 oz. per square yard. The fabric is reinforced with polyester 9 x9 x 1300 denier weft inserted scrim, laminated into the fabric to give the Curtain Wall a high tear and tensile strength without sacrificing flexibility. These reinforced vinyl curtain materials are exclusively manufactured for Goffs to be certified flame retardant by the California State Fire Marshals office, as well as passing the NFPA-701 test for fire resistance.
The polyvinyl Curtain Wall material is water repellent, mildew and rot resistant as well as being resistant to most chemicals. It can withstand a maximum temperature of 180° F and contains a cold crack resistance to -4° F.
The upper and lower reinforced vinyl Curtain Wall sections are double lock stitched to a 20 mil double polished, clear, 52″ high windowed section that withstands temperatures of between -20° and +150°. Light enters into the area and employees do not have to feel like they are “closed in.”
Starting from the top down, the Curtain Walls have a 16 gauge steel channel track and roller system that has enough strength to hold each of the 40 foot wide, 18 foot high heavy-duty 14 oz. per sq. yd. vinyl panels. Full length Velcro strips connect the panels to prevent debris from entering the production area, yet allow the curtains to be easily opened for moving the panels or to let large pieces of equipment into the area.
Traffic between the six different assembly lines in the washing area is brisk. For all of their production they use 20 ft vinyl extrusions. The process starts in the back of the plant it moves into the assembly area where the extrusions get welded together and then assembled. The company largely builds to order and speed in getting product through the plant is crucial to their success.
The curtains have the ability to tightly close off the space yet spread open easily for rapid movement of traffic. Using solid walls would have required doors – even rapid roll doors would slow down the flow of product.
Phillips practices lean manufacturing and they are geared towards making changes in the operation where ever they can. “Though the hard plumbing and floor drains dictates where the washer has to be located,” says Noel, “we like the option of being to move the area layout around, unlike if we had decided to use solid walls.”
The glass gets sealed up and then the product goes on carts over to the vinyl area. From there the windows get packaged up and off to shipping. Product is warehoused for a day or two.
Though Phillips is a forty year old company that is operating in a building dating back to the 19th century, new ideas can continue to expand the boundaries of productivity with the help of Goff’s flexible curtain walls.