At Frank Lowe, we provide more than products – we offer solutions to often complex problems. Not only do you get what you need when you need it, you get a partner in improving your processes, productivity, and product.
We recently spoke with Kevin Vilhauer, Vice President of Engineering at Western Window Systems about how a switch from liquid silicone to foam gaskets allows the company to consistently deliver well-sealed products and improve production and customer satisfaction.
We Help Solve Problems
Shortly after beginning work at Western Window Systems, Kevin was faced with leaking casement-style windows at a large commercial project. With over 20 years of experience in the windows and door industry, Kevin has a passion for innovation. So, he traveled to the job site to come up with a solution. At first, he thought they had a sure-fire fix with additional liquid silicone. However, even with the application of new liquid silicone, the windows continued to leak and fail every test.
“I realized that what we had was a consistency issue. The leaks were just a symptom. I proposed a custom gasket with a bit of silicone. The gasket from Frank Lowe passed the first time we tested it. We have no leaking and no consistency issues.”
Frank Lowe was ready to create the exact gasket Kevin needed to solve the problem.
Improved Processes Lead to Improved Products
The previous window production process relied heavily on a thick, self-leveling silicone sealer that was hard to apply and hard to clean post-production. The iterative process included applying the silicone, attaching, and cleaning excess silicone from the sealed area. In addition, the finished window
then had to be cleaned to remove silicone from the glass. Using a liquid gasket was a messy, time-consuming, labor-intensive, manual process and the results were not consistent. It impacted product quality, customer satisfaction, and the company’s bottom line.
Now, using the custom-produced gasket provided by Frank Lowe, line employees can quickly, consistently, and properly seal the window frames.
As part of the switchover, Kevin created a tool to help insert the gasket. However, once trained on the new process, the tool isn’t even necessary. Whereas using silicone to create the seal was a bit of an art form, any line employee can seal the frames using the precut foam gasket.
The production line prefers the gasket as it is faster and cleaner. They work more efficiently and consistently.
Western Window Systems customers know they can rely on their windows to be done right and watertight.
One Success Spawns Others
Once Kevin saw the process and product improvements possible by switching gasket materials, he was ready to replicate that success throughout the product line. And Frank Lowe was there to help.
Together, they are in the process of testing gaskets for door panels and other Western Window System products.
Kevin reflects on what sometimes seems to be the simplest solution is really the source of your problem. “Previously, we didn’t consider foam gaskets, because it just seemed easier to stock silicone than create and stock a new part.”
But in fact, working with Frank Lowe to create a part that can be kept on hand is much easier and more efficient. “Hey, I didn’t know we could do that” turned to “Hey why don’t we do this for everything!” And with Frank Lowe’s commitment to stocking inventory, Western Window Systems knows they can rely on Frank Lowe to be a strong link in their supply chain.