FeneTech news and updates

11 Oct Vitrum Glass implements FeneVision as its ERP solution

2015-10-11 20_48_05-Glass Magazine October 2015In a recently published article in Glass Magazine, Nicky Whitehouse from Vitrum Glass describes the “FeneVision Experience” …

[The] configuration process lasted about a year, and was supported by a dedicated FeneTech team … “FeneTech had brainstorm sessions with us. If we had a gap, they would help to come up with the best possible ways for the process to flow … They wanted the software to meet or exceed everything we wanted it to do.”

And it did. Once again, FeneVision is making it happen.


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05 Jun Meeting demand, remote order entry, hot topics at 2015 FeneVision User Conference

FeneVision User Conference 2015 opening sessionMany window and door makers and others in the fenestration industry are at full capacity this summer and strategizing how to meet strong demand now and with what could be sustained growth.

That theme emerged from the 83 attendees at the 13th annual edition of FeneVision ERP User Conference, which concluded noon Wednesday in Cleveland, Ohio. The number of participants is a conference record, with people coming from 26 states and provinces and five countries, including Estonia and Finland.

“More than one company told us off the record that they are literally turning away orders,” said Ron Crowl, president of FeneVision developer FeneTech. “While few if any companies are back to pre-2008 levels, most are seeing 10 to 20 percent increases in sales from last year repeated again this year.”

Half glass

Of the 42 companies represented, half were window and door manufacturers and half glass fabricators. Six vendors co-sponsored the event, including lead sponsor IG fabricator INTIGRAL, Inc., which has attended all 13 years. The others were Wakefield Equipment, GED, Integrated Automation Systems/OptiGas, Sturtz Machinery and Ventana USA.

Wade Breer, supply chain manager for Vector Windows in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, said his company is evaluating both where to expand and how to increase capacity. “We’re anticipating double digit growth for the foreseeable future and have already increased our capital investment to the highest level in 20 years.”

That includes machinery and software upgrades. A FeneVision user for a decade, Vector recently rolled out Web Center, a module that allows their lumberyard and distributor customers to create estimates and place orders online and to extend that capability to their customers.

“It’s all part of making ordering as easy as possible for our customers so Vector remains their vinyl window supplier of choice,” Breer said. “We’re always looking for ways to improve and FeneVision enables us to do that.

Starting up

While everyone is optimistic, Brian Dougherty believes enough in the economy that he is ramping up a new IG fabrication company, Reliable Insulated Glass, in nearby Akron. He expects to begin delivering to customers this summer.

“Two years ago, there’s no way I’d be doing this,” said Dougherty, who has worked in the industry for nearly three decades as a sales representative. “I see the overall growth in the market continuing.”

“We have customers ready to order,” he said, “but our first priority is implementing FeneVision with our equipment. You can’t succeed in this business unless you can efficiently take orders and plan, manage and track production. And while we might never be the biggest, we plan to be the best.”

Andy McAllister, production coordinator and maintenance supervisor for Comfort View Products in Newnan, Georgia, said the company “has been setting new sales records each month for more than a year.”  His first task back in Georgia will be to begin rollout of Web Center to its customers.

Sharing information

McAllister, Dougherty and Breer, like the other attendees, came to attend sessions led by FeneTech employees but also to share ideas and learn from other FeneVision users.

Participants attended 72 seminars on four different tracks over two-and-one-half days, from the basics of the software to free-form “ask the expert” breakout sessions.

“The always amazing part of the user conference is how much people from competing companies share with and help each other to improve their operations,” Crowl said. Popular sessions were optimization, Computer Assisted Production Management (CAPM) and making ordering and customer service more effective and efficient with FeneVision Web Order Entry module.

FeneTech also uses the event to gather input from users and develop the software enhancements and improvements list for the next 12 months.

A FeneVision User Conference is never just all work. Evening entertainment Monday was a dinner cruise on the Cuyahoga River through downtown Cleveland and along the Lake Erie shoreline. Tuesday evening attendees participated in a spirited bowling competition at a downtown multi-media complex.

Founded in 1996, FeneTech develops, markets and supports FeneVision ERP and related quality products worldwide. The ERP solution provides one point of data entry, optimization, remote web order entry and complete integration of operations and is currently available in seven languages. FeneTech plans to add a user conference in Europe as well in 2016.

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West Coast testimonial 3

07 Mar West Coast Glass – LineScanner

“Our business is supplying insulating glass to high end window and door manufacturers who make wood, aluminum and steel windows and doors throughout Southern California. They pay us more because we deliver higher quality.

Our units go into windows and doors shipped all over the country. Our customers’ end users don’t care about ASTM standards or that glass is for looking through and not at. They think they’re buying diamonds. They’ve paid a high price and if they think they see a problem, they’re not living with it.”

Started from nothing

“I started this business from nothing in 1988. I had helped one company start their IG operation with a washer, a sealant pump and a handcutting table. After that I went to work for a window company, where I got an understanding of all the issues and how pre-installed quality is so important. It became my mission.

Back then, IG was still new in California. We went to wood window companies and offered to do all their specialty shapes. That’s how we dug out our niche in the world, with quality and doing the hard stuff: triangles, even sightlines.”

Growing in the highly competitive Southern California IG market

“Today, we have 55 employees in a 65,000 square foot facility.”

We do tempering, fabrication, polishing, drilling and v-grooving and are adding our own lamination line. We offer every kind of coated glass from the major manufacturers and are one of the only independent Cardinal fabricators in the west.

Our market is really competitive. The first thing new guys do, and there are lots of them, is drop their price. We have to keep earning and justifying ours.

We do that with quality.”

Larger IG, more delicate glass

“What has happened in our business is that we are seeing the size of insulating glass grow tremendously.

Ten years ago, IG averaged eight square feet. Now it is closer to 15 and we are making some units that are 50, 60 and 70 square feet.

At the same time, glass, as our plant manager constantly points out, has gotten delicate. The low-e coatings are increasingly sophisticated and expensive.

Anybody can do clear glass. Coated glass is much more demanding. And any problem found after fabrication cost three to four times the money to reject.”

Seen everything that can go wrong

“I’ve made millions of units of insulating glass and seen everything that can be done to, happen to or get inside a unit. I’ve seen paper inside—I don’t know how that happened!

Our quality has always been better than good. But we knew that it could be even better. The worse thing in the world is to see even one piece of glass come back on the truck with a now-obvious defect.

Everyone buys glass from same places. The main differences in our operation are that we start with high quality equipment and the training our people have.”

Automating inspection

“For our automated quality inspection system, we installed a FeneVision LineScanner at the beginning of our IG line after the washer.

The LineScanner goes beyond what a human could detect by looking at a piece of glass, especially a tired pair of eyes looking at glass going by all day. And in a factory, all the lighting you can put in does not duplicate natural light.

The LineScanner picks up every little defect. We’ve definitely seen a difference and are rejecting a lot more glass. We even called in a manufacturer to show them coating defects the LineScanner found.”

Not replacing the inspector

“It doesn’t replace the inspector, it helps him. Ours were skeptical at first, but by the third day, one said this thing’s awesome. They can make decisions in a lot less time: locate, fix, wipe, reject.

We’re archiving defects and seeing patterns. We go back and compare locations to find where defects are coming from. Most of our defects were in the smallest category for which LineScanner is checking.”

Speed and savings

“Speed matters. It was taking five minutes to manually inspect large lites, some of which were over the inspectors heads. Now it takes only a minute to inspect and the monitor tells you right where to inspect instantly.

We are seeing savings on big pieces of glass, catching defects before we put any more time and money into that piece of glass.”

Giving customers confidence

“It helps us give our customers confidence, too. People can misrepresent the source of a scratch. With all the scans in the database, we can help our customers defend themselves against claims they couldn’t defend in the past.

We’re considering another one at the end of the tempering furnace and one for the new laminating line. We’re using it as a marketing tool, because our competitors don’t have it.

Our customers need to know that they can ship our units without even looking at them. And they can. The LineScanner helps us produce the best quality glass that we can. It makes us a better supplier.”

Rusty Neubauer, owner
West Coast Insulated Glass Products

See how FeneVision LineScanner can improve your quality. Visit fenevision.com or contact Nate Huffman at 330.954.7514 or nate.huffman@fenetech.com.

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15 Jan FeneTech unveils Shower Door Designer

FeneTech has added to their repertoire of design software their newest development—the Shower Door Designer. FeneVision Shower Door Designer is FeneTech’s latest CAD application.

The Shower Door Designer uses the standard FeneVision Options Wizard and CAD Designer capability, offering a two-dimensional as well as a three-dimensional view of newly created designs. This new functionality is unique in that it operates independently from any fitting manufacturer, handling fittings from different suppliers all while utilizing the same database.

For more information on Shower Door Designer, contact your FeneTech representative.

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Syracuse testimonial 1

18 Nov Syracuse Glass – FeneVision

“Our company was started in 1909. A willingness to change over the years is a big reason we’re still in business and growing more than 100 years later.

Syracuse Glass was initially a glass distributor but over the years evolved into a fabricator. In 1973, we began making insulating glass as an early adopter of double glazing. In the early 2000s, we sold off our auto glass business, which at one time was 50 percent of our revenue.”

Making it easy to do business with us

“Today, we manufacture insulating glass for commercial projects, shower enclosures, all-glass storefronts and custom aluminum storefronts with Tubelite. We have 90 employees and intensively service customers within 250 miles of Syracuse.

We made it through the 2008 recession in part because our small commercial niche and slow-growth region are less susceptible to boom and bust. But we also came through because tough times always bring out the best in our team.

Our customer service culture makes a big difference. We work very hard to make it extremely easy to do business with us. We consider it a must-do, not something extra.

We’re very happy with our decision to work with FeneVision.

Now 105 years later, we are in growth mode and very excited about the prospects for the company. FeneVision is a big part of that. It’s a very satisfying business relationship.

What we’ve seen in recent years is an increase in complexity. Products used to be much simpler and lead times longer: there were four colors of glass, it was either tempered or annealed, the spacers were all the same and there were only a few coatings available.

Now there are lots of ways to get into trouble. There are hundreds of options. Some architects want configurations that are like science experiments.”

Technology backed by people

“We had a system we liked before we bought FeneVision in 2009, but the company stopped supporting it. While we made it work for several more years, it was blue screen, not Windows-based or graphic. Eventually, we decided we needed to upgrade.

We evaluated three packages over six months. We did demos and visited plants where the software was installed.

We liked FeneVision’s technology, but even more noteworthy are FeneTech’s people. They know how important their work is to our success. Because I’m convinced of their commitment to our industry, I believe this can be our last software system.

Our belief in them continues to pay off. With FeneVision, our people routinely manage complexity so it looks easy to customers. We can meet very short lead times for small orders and find it much easier to manipulate scheduling to accommodate delivery and material issues. And our schedulers can also adjust production to improve yields.”

Complexity is opportunity

“With every FeneVision upgrade, there are more features. If we have a problem, they really work to help us solve it. Through their annual user conference, we are now part of a network of fabricators we share information with. Their customer service culture is reassuring for me. I’ve enjoyed
watching them succeed.

Today, we see complexity as opportunity. Being able to manage any kind of order and deliver it quickly and correctly has enabled us to increase customer loyalty and pick up market share. We work hard at service all the time. It sets us apart.

This is our third enterprise software system since I’ve been here. It’s a big decision because we do so much with it. Even though we embrace change, we don’t like drama. We like to keep things dependable for our customers.”

What we like about FeneVision

“We deal with the same customers over and over. With FeneVision, it is very easy to accommodate repeat business. It’s a big part of our success.

We just bought the paperless delivery software. After testing it this fall, we hope to roll it out in early 2015.

We now offer online order entry and a quarter of our orders are entered by customers. They can place and check orders whenever they want.

We switched from in-process labeling to laser marking. The change has been huge—no glass with missing labels.

Another thing we really like is the graphic display. We can see the grid, the color, side views and front views. It’s more intuitive, and mistakes pop out when you can see the colors. It’s helped reduce errors.

Our IT manager has set up two automatic daily bundles of information. At 11, we see the daily billing, order entry totals, on-time shipments and all sales by delivery area. At 5 pm, we get the backlog by all segments.

Recently we got a nice compliment from a customer who got a panicked call from THEIR customer. A piece of glass in a door had broken and they needed someone to measure the glass and get it repaired as soon as possible. Our customer asked for the laser marking on the broken glass, got the replacement ordered and saved a service call. Their customer was very impressed. We can also track readings from our LiteSentry device to the laser markings.”

John Dwyer, president
Syracuse Glass

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16 Oct Glass fabricator Thompson I.G. ups quality, adds LineScanner

Thompson IG MichiganThompson I.G., a leading supplier of fabricated glass for the commercial, residential architectural and recreational, mass transit and commercial vehicle markets, is upping its already high commitment to quality glass products.

Located one hour northwest of Detroit in Fenton, Michigan, Thompson I.G. serves customers throughout North America with innovative and high-performance insulating, tempered, laminated, specialty, digitally-printed and Pleotint’s Suntuitive® dynamic glass products.

To help ensure its flagship insulating glass products are defect-free, the company has installed a FeneVision LineScanner automated quality scanner after the washer and before the build station.

“We offer our glazing contractor and manufacturer customers a practically unlimited range of aesthetic and technological choices,” said Lorne Flaig, vice president of customer and supplier services for Thompson I.G. “Automating inspection before an essential production step has improved our outcomes and yield.”

Founded in 1989, Thompson can produce IG units up to 80 x 138 inches and offers warm edge spacers, low-e coatings and argon fills. It has two cutting lines, a tempering oven with convection heat and advanced lamination and autoclave technology and makes specialty glass, digitally printed and spandrel glass.

“Our emphasis is on customer service, short lead times and high-performance products,” Flaig said. “The LineScanner helps us get more product right and to the customer when they want it.”

The LineScanner detects inclusions, scratches, finger prints, stains, chips and more. Thompson’s unit is fully integrated with their production system and provides logo check to ensure the logo on each unit is in the right location.

Nate Huffman of FeneTech, which sells the FeneVision LineScanner in North America, said, “Automated scanners helps operators consistently find glass defects and confirm the size and fabrication locations. It can be used on individual lites as well as dual and triple IG’s.”

The LineScanner is accurate at speeds of up to 180 feet per minute and can be made up to almost 11 feet wide (3.3m). Mounting can be horizontal or vertical with as little as 2.75 inches clearance to the glass.

To learn more about Thompson I.G.’s quality glass products please visit www.thompsonig.com or call 800.650.9001.

FeneTech develops and markets industry leading software and quality systems for window and door manufacturers and glass fabrication companies and provides implementation, training and support services. Headquarters are in Aurora, Ohio with offices in Luxembourg.

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08 Oct Tristar Glass Products – FeneVision

“We started Tristar Glass Products from scratch in 2005. In 2015, we’ll open our third fabrication facility and reach 200 employees.”

We’re an architectural and decorative glass fabricator certified by PPG and Guardian. Most of our business comes through commercial glazing companies. Caring for customers is a big part of what we preach from the top down. We take pride in it.

Service and loyalty sets us apart. We have a higher level of commitment to the extra things. We rush orders, we do favors. We get the right products to our customers on a timely basis and try to never say no.”

Gaining market share and quality people

“I had worked in the industry for many years and owned a glass fabrication company with my brother, which we sold in 1995. When my non-compete expired in 2005, I immediately opened Tristar for business. I saw the need and felt we could do a better job than the competition.

Fortunately, we never saw a bad downturn in 2008. The regional economy certainly slowed but it was not like the coasts. We’ve been able to pick up market share and buy equipment and expand our capabilities at reasonable prices.

We’ve also been able to find quality people at each step, which is why we were able to open a facility in Dallas in 2012—the same year we moved and expanded our Oklahoma plant—and will open in Houston this year.”

People drive our business

“People drive the business, and the people who work here and that we hire wholeheartedly share our belief that our primary concern is taking care of our customers.”

The Houston facility is 66,000 square feet featuring a state-of the-art convection furnace with a bed load size of 130 inches by 240 inches, the largest of its kind in the United States.

We can go big because we have good systems, great customers and a lot of people dedicated to providing exceptional service and quality.

We also have a second website, tristarvisions.com, for our decorative glass division, which offers a full range of services for interior and exterior applications.”

Getting ready to grow

“There’s lots of interaction and coordination in this business and we strive to never make it difficult or unpleasant to deal with us, especially during tough situations.

We invested in FeneVision in 2010. Our software up to that point was strictly an order entry program someone locally had written. It was doing the job but we were seeing our potential to grow. We knew we needed to have robust systems.

We looked for software that could do what we wanted and came from a company that could give us the support we need when we need it. We wanted one package that could do everything for us.

We actually began implementing another program and were quickly aware that it couldn’t do what was promised.

That’s when we selected FeneVision. You could see that the people at FeneTech saw the need for strong systems for fabricators.”

Seeing the entire process

“FeneVision takes us through the entire process.

My wife Karen is the company controller. She likes the ability to go in and take an order and track it all the way through to where we ship it and invoice the customer. We can see what happened all along the process. We can find it right down to a customer’s location.

We’re trying to automate our processes more and more and even move toward touchless production. Currently we are ready to move into laser marking from barcoding.”

No complacency

“All fabricators have similar equipment and ways to take care of customers. We try not to get complacent or think we are better than we are.

We operate with a high level of commitment because this is our livelihood. We take it personally when something goes wrong, whether it’s our fault or not. It’s how we respond that matters, that helps drive our growth.

When we saw opportunities for expansion, FeneTech and FeneVision looked to be in the best place to help us manage it. Today, FeneVision is supporting our growth.

It was an investment but no one would give it up and go back. We all really appreciate what it does for us.”

Tim Kelley, president
Tristar Glass

For information on FeneVision ERP or to arrange a demo or on-site visit, contact Horst Mertes at 206.979.4776 or horst.mertes@fenetech.com.

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06 Jul Wincore Windows & Doors – FeneVision

“Wincore set out to create a world-class window company solely focused on customer satisfaction. FeneVision was there from the start and seven years later continues to help us grow.

The company was founded in 2007 by 12 people with more than two centuries of combined industry experience. Since then, we’ve grown from 50 to 250 employees with customers nationwide.

We’re still growing because our customers know they’re going to get a quality product delivered on time that has the strength and experience of Wincore behind it. We have great people with high standards for product, service and open communications. Who we hire is everything.”

We’re not just bigger today, we do more

“We initially offered two replacement lines and two new construction lines. We added entry doors after two years and now offer 14 product lines, including StormForce impact windows. We’ve fabricated our own IG since day one and added many IG options the past two years.

The founding partners knew the choice of software was a serious decision—it can cost you your company. It has to work, not only to execute the basics every day, but to help us be more efficient.

From day one, FeneVision has worked this way for us. It’s part of everything we do, from order entry through inventory, production, trucking, accounting and back to our customers, full circle, 360 degrees.

Our people are the backbone of our company, but FeneVision is right behind.”

Systems matter more than ever

“The founders knew we had to have capability like this to compete and grow. They wouldn’t have started Wincore without it.

Today, if you don’t have the tools to enable customers to place their own orders, you can’t even get in the door. FeneVision’s web order entry is a competitive advantage that has allowed us to go in and win customers where we couldn’t before.

Now our customers’ customers are creating their own quotes and placing and tracking orders any time day and night. It makes it easy to do business with us.”

A system that adjusts to us

“In 2007, several ERP systems were evaluated. FeneVision was chosen to be the best on functionality, ease of use for operators, affordability and flexibility.

Without modification, FeneVision is rock solid. All the steps for window and door making are already in the package. Yet it’s highly customizable. We’ve always been able to configure FeneVision to fit us, rather than the other way around. We routinely script new capabilities as wants and situations arise.

Every one of our management teams uses FeneVision’s business intelligence features every day. We can create our own reports or have them created for us, but we’ve found many of the standard reports are very useful.

With FeneVision, we operate the way we want to.”

No limits

“We plan to keep growing. We’re adding more options and whole new product lines. We see no limits in the software. It is very scalable, powerful and strong.

We still get calls every other week asking us to change systems. We always tell them we’re happy where we are. FeneVision is working very well for us.

I love the software. And this is coming from a guy who created his own fenestration ERP in the past. Everything we need is built into FeneVision.

At the beginning of the day, in the middle of the day, at the end of the day, it makes what we do better.”

Toby Nichols
Wincore Windows & Doors

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