Touring Andersen Windows 2,000,000+ sq ft Manufacturing Facility @andersenwindows
Nick Schiffer: We're in the Bayport facility at Andersen Windows. And we actually got to go through a factory tour a couple minutes ago. But we wanted to redo it and bring you guys through because how overwhelming it was. When we think about an Andersen window, we're thinking about buying it from a lumberyard or vendor or even something like a box store. And what that window is individually, as you can kind of start to see behind us ... how many square feet is this facility? Tyler Grace: Over a million, right? I think it's over 2 million. Over 2 million. So it's twice that amount. What's crazy
about this whole process to me is to see how much machinery and how many people are involved in every single unit is somewhat overwhelming and mind blowing. Nick Schiffer: We're gonna walk you through kind of some of the highlights that we saw on this, there's no way that you're going to be able to capture everything that goes into these windows, because even for us being here was very difficult to understand every single process. Right behind us, we're in the milling facility for Andersen 400 Series windows, they source all of this finger jointed lumber from a manufacturer coming in raw, and we're actually they're actually taking it and running it through a series of machine machinery behind us. And they're producing their own profiles. And the reason that they do that is because they could order it and some other manufacturers do order this and outsource as part of it. But they felt really strongly that it was important to maintain quality control, you know, with the profiles themselves, because of the the tight tolerances in which they fit together.
Tyler Grace: Yeah, so they, they told us and I can grab a more complex profile, but essentially they're taking this piece here is not finger jointed, but typically they're taking a finger jointed pine, and they're creating the molder heads for the profile that they need. And then when they have them cut to lane, they're taking this which is a gauge that's going to be they call it a quality assurance gauge, Andersen checks one part at the beginning, middle and end of each load. The quality assurance here is to ensure that if this piece doesn't match up, it's gonna get dumped in the recycle it and make it into new finger jointed pines. But if they were ordered this or
outsource this, they wouldn't be able to control that tolerance there and that it would be a quality control issue. So I'll have Nick hold this, I'm gonna grab the molder head and show you a little more complex profile here. Nick Schiffer: And while he does that, I want to I do want to correct I said finger jointed pine. But and the reason that
this is not finger jointed is that this is going to be something that is client facing to the client facing stuff is not going to be finger jointed, where the structural stuff that would be, that's going to be stuff, the lumber portion of the window that is kind of behind, you know, some of the final finish. Tyler Grace: this motorhead this thing is heavy. This year, they will engineer and spec and then create these molders for their machinery to mail the wood exactly how they need it. So for each profile, their engineering and developing motorheads, the cot that specific profile. So here's another piece that as Nick just discuss, is actually going to get covered with a finish. So it'll get encapsulated completely. And
it'll cover these defects, which aren't structural defects here, but you wouldn't want to clear coat so this could also be finger jointed. But this is a more complex profile here. And again, you have this quality assurance gauge that they can go. And they can test the tolerances on each one of these pieces to ensure that on the ends, and the middle, and this is my first time using this, but this will fit on to every portion of this depending on what side you use. So as these are coming out of the machinery, they're going to test to make sure that this is within spec on every piece that comes out. And if it's not, again, they're gonna recycle this and then make it into finger jointed pine that they can use on something else Nick Schiffer: through all these machines, you have all this pipe above us, which essentially goes back to what you would consider like a dust collector, but they're producing like 600 tons of sawdust, and less than 1% of that ends up in a landfill. And the rest of it actually gets applied to other products in their product line.
Tyler Grace: Yeah, whether they're using it in their fiber x, which is a proprietary product, they're using some of it to heat certain parts of the building. And then also again, they're gonna recycle it, obviously, they're looking at sustainability. Nick Schiffer: So this machine here, he's getting all of his rough cut material, putting it into a machine and what he's got is the computer telling him how long this material needs to be.
So we'll go through a series of basic machine parts and get cut to the length in which the order is designed. You can see that this machine can grow in all different directions. And these pieces are being cut very specifically for a particular wind out. Here Tyler Grace: you can see this is the motor that's going to take those planks of wood defined. And it's going to shape them to
the parts and the components that they need to make these windows here. From that molder, it's going to kick out and then it's going to another machine over here that's going to seal that wood is very adorable, but these windows are going to live outside for a very long time. So they're going to seal this wood with I believe they switched from a solvent base to a water based sealer that they tested, and it's holding up and more durable than the solvent based sealer. And then it kicks out of them. And goes on to the next step of this entire process. Once Nick Schiffer: it makes it out of the coating, it actually loops around and runs through this oven, which is going to help care it and then on this here, you can see him coming out of the oven where everything is drying, being fed out onto this belt, I don't want to get in trouble being fed on this belt.
And that's the final product starting on that end over there. This is where they make a number of the components for the 400 series. Tyler Grace: This is still warm from the oven, this is like donuts, but this already has that coating applied to it, it went through the oven, it's cured. And this is gonna go to the next step in the process. So Nick Schiffer: he's getting ready to load this up in a car. And where this will go is it will actually go into the supermarket. And this is where we introduced the lean
manufacturing. It's really interesting because you think about all of these parts and pieces for you know, all these different orders for Windows. But essentially what they're doing is they're manufacturing in bulk here, and then storing them by size and profile in the supermarket. So when an order
does come, they're able to quickly source this stuff rather than milling this stuff per order. So why don't we head over there to the supermarket. One of the reasons they have the golf carts is because of the you know, the 2 million plus square feet. But as Tyler will point out, you'll see some bicycles with what we think are ice cream coolers on the back. Yeah,
believe Tyler Grace: that you can get snow cones, you could get screw balls, the baseball mitt with the bubble gum, whatever you want maintenance guys are riding around on bicycles or three wheeled bicycles that have tool chests on the back. And that so they can get from one end of this warehouse to another end without having to walk 300 400 yards. So they're saving themselves a ton of time. Obviously, there's no pollutants
getting into the air, with riding a bicycle on our electric golf cart around. So it's making for a safer, cleaner, more efficient workflow in here. Nick Schiffer: And speaking of safety, I mean, you'll hear the golf car beep every so often. But there's like very strict guidelines as to where the golf carts can drive, you'll notice that we'll use man doors instead of walking through garage doors, there's pedestrian walkways in a factory setting with 1000 people on the floor at a time, you know, you really have to be considered of you know, right aways and making sure that people are operating in a in a safe way in a safe manner. Tyler Grace: You know, until you said that, I thought that these people were just beeping at us the whole time saying hi. So
Minnesota is the friendliest place I've been. Nick Schiffer: We're right outside the supermarket. But this is actually the freeway. And this is I think the longest
unobstructed view of the warehouse all the way down there. 500 something yards. Tyler and I are gonna have a foot race later on, see who is faster. But for right now, this is primarily for golf carts. So we were just at milling. And then here in the supermarket is where all of these parts ended up, you saw the car, leave that area, and those carts get staged here. Now everything is essentially coated with a
number. Now that you see this gentleman down here, he's pulling out parts for some sort of order. But the headset he's wearing is actually allowing him to know which parts to pull. I don't know the the exact process in which that works, Tyler Grace: we'd have to speak to them exactly. But essentially, instead of tape going to a computer and taking down the part numbers that they need, they can communicate with the device on their ear, and it'll tell them what to pull how many they need to pull for each order. And I believe when they
switch to that system, again, rather from going from one computer to another and then getting a printout. They've reduced the number of mistakes and missed polls that they had. I don't want to say a percentage, it was very high, how much they reduced the amount of mistakes that were being made. But what they were looking to do with the supermarket was make it a much more efficient period for the associate the pulling this lumber and all of these parts and these components, take out the human error there and expedite this entire process with fewer mistakes.
Nick Schiffer: So if you can think about it, like you know where you know, maybe a furniture store that we might be familiar with, where you go in you have racks and racks of parts, and you're essentially you know, in that case, you have a sheet or you have a notepad that you've written down some part numbers, that's essentially removing that and they're able to, like Tyler said can be indicate all through the headset and no pull all those parts. Now from here, what they're doing is, that's the first start of fulfilling a window order. These are where the parts for the Forerunner series are staged. So from here, the parts will leave and actually go into finishing. And it's actually a proprietary finished call. So Tyler Grace: I believe that the finish itself is not proprietary. But the way that they apply it is so we can't get
into that. The coding is called flexor Kron anyone can use that finish, I believe they said it's also used on bridges as well. But they have developed a way that they can apply that to ensure that it's evenly coated, they have the proper mil thickness of it, and that they're reducing the amount of waste because whatever waste there is, it can be recaptured, and then reused. I think they said that they use roughly
150,000 gallons a year coating parts on however many millions of parts that go through one of the reasons they develop this, and we'll get into this when we show you the pieces, but the mill thickness serves two purposes, it's for protection and from exposure to the elements. But also when they mill these parts, they're getting coated pre assembly, so they have to account for that mil thickness on that joinery, or else it's going to be too tight. So that application of that needs to be very specific, there's a tight tolerance there, just like a rail and style of a door. So they that's part of the reason they develop this system. Nick Schiffer: And it's interesting, like, you know, you hear us calling it coating, and you may be like, Oh, they're just painting these parts, and it's not paying, the way it's kind of been described is that paint is more aesthetic. And
this is more than just an aesthetic. Yes, it provides an aesthetic finish. But it is very much that protection. And when you think about how it's applied, you know, like, like Tyler said, we can't really show you the exact process. But you can kind of think about it as like powder coating. It's very similar to that process, which really does provide that even disbursement and very accurate mill layer, so we actually Tyler Grace: spraying it and getting heavy spots, and then some spots that aren't coded. Also, you want to ensure that every part, they're going through the effort of leaving this stuff disassembled and, and coding it and then assembling it. So the whole point of that is to be able to get into every
area of these millings. And these profiles. So you want to make sure that this wood is protected on every profile every crevice every crack Nick Schiffer: by coating these parts separately, and then putting them together with a mechanical fastener. Like Tyler said, like you're completely coated, you're completely protected. If you have seasonal movement, and that opens up a little bit, you're totally fine. Now the argument might come up, it's like well, it's not as strong, you know, you do need a glue join. The reality is is that glass is going to be part
of the structure of that panel. So that glass gets adhered in there with a sealant and then the mechanical fastening with the screws in the corner. All at all. You know if any of you have ever removed a sash from a window like an Andersen, you're going to know that that sash is pretty solid. Before we describe what's going on here. The misters actually just kicked on
and wanted to call it not to be confused with the missus not to be confused with Mrs, the importance of that is really to maintain relative humidity as wood dries, you're gonna get contraction, as relative humidity kicks up, you're gonna get expansion, what they're doing is they're maintaining the relative humidity throughout the entire process, you're gonna see these misters kind of everywhere that wood is in fabrication, he's it's really important that prior to being completely sealed up with this coating, that wood remains very stable for an accurate end product. Tyler Grace: They're essentially controlling moisture content, I believe they said around 10%, the factory floor and the warehouses, their condition, but they're not necessarily controlling relative humidity with a very with a system with an HVAC system. So they're ensuring that there is moisture in the air. So these parts aren't drying out, cracking, warping, shrinking, twisting all the typical issues that you would have with wood once it's milled and exposed to the elements. So Nick Schiffer: you have the raw version, which is essentially you grabbed it out of the supermarket. And prior to getting it into the coating.
Tyler Grace: They're looking at the appearance of these boards and these words, and they're ensuring that there's no visual visual defects in these. But some defects aren't apparent to the naked eye once you put a light or a finish on top of that they become apparent. So what they're doing is they're putting a sealer of coating on these and then it's up here. That's a very
rapid process. And then they are hanging all of these parts protecting the areas that the exterior finish is separate from the interior finish. They're protecting the exterior, leaving the interior area to be coded and then they're hanging these and they're going through the finishing process that there again so that All of these joints, all of these profiles, everything that's going to have the interior finish gets coated.
Prior to assembly, some people are going to say that you should be finishing these prior to fabrication, but in my opinion, I would rather have them coated completely and have a mechanical connection. And that that paint bridging everything may crack from day one, but you're not going to have any issues with that joint holding up, it's all protected. Nick Schiffer: As you see him slide this together, it's a tight joint, but it's actually pretty loose in terms of, you know how well it stays together by itself, where their their make their milling that with the assumption that it gets coated, so you can see all raw material. And then we have a coated material here. So our tongue and our groove, everything's coated.
And then when you slide it together, you get that nice tight joint, this is going to hold, say together by itself. And then you do have the hole provisions for your mechanical fastener. Tyler Grace: And it what would happen is if you didn't account for the mill thickness of this, on this finish that's getting applied to this, this would be too tight. Once you milled this
and put it together, which would cause issues down the road, it could potentially swell a little more and start cracking. So this fit with the finish applied is what you would be if you built an unfinished or a cabinet door in a shop, you're accounting for that spray finish on there. So it's a nice right now, this joint doesn't stay together too loose. Once it's finished, it's
going to be a nice tight joint. Nick Schiffer: So we've kind of talked to you guys about how this stuff goes from raw material to a finished material. And what this means is this is an order this you know these parts are going to some sort of white sash for a double hung.
We're going to continue our tour and start talking about the next steps after finish as we look at putting these windows together as a unit. So we're over where they actually form the vinyl sheets. So Tyler, why don't we Why don't you give us a rundown on what we got going on with this aluminum here. Alright, Tyler Grace: so these are aluminum frames that are created essentially the same size as the wooden frames, they have air chucks and water Chuck's water fittings, essentially there's water tubes underneath here. And there's air chucks, so they're taking these, these vinyl blanks, which you'll see have the nailing flange and everything attached to them. They're one piece, and they have engineered this and determine exactly what size they need for these sheets to lay over these aluminum frames. They then steam them, they are suctioned down to
the frame. So they mold and fit this perfectly. Once they're formed, they're going to have cold water circulate underneath of these, which is going to stiffen that and harden it. And then they blow air and there's tiny little air holes throughout here. So these air holes are going to be used to separate the aluminum from the cured or the hardened vinyl. And then they'll
drop this entire frame down. And you'll see you'll have one solid piece that's completely framed the same size as this aluminum. And then after that they'll go and cut out the center of Nick Schiffer: that. Yeah, so the important thing to know is
that that process is only about 40 seconds long. Yeah. And before we head over there, one of the questions I had is, well, you have all these frames sitting here, you know what happens if someone orders a custom size. And that was actually a real problem, they had faced that all of these are the standard sizes, they can produce these on a regular basis, you know, and these are built monolithically with that water, those water and air channels. When you talk about ordering custom window that's going to have that vinyl exterior cladding, they have the opportunity to build it any size that you want within 1/8 of an inch. And that's done over in their custom area. The one difference there. And the reason
why you're paying a slight premium for that is because they're unable to run the water in it because they're not a monolithic mold. It's put together in multiple pieces. So what happens is that curing process takes a lot longer. So if you're producing less Windows per hour, they become more expensive. So why don't we walk over to this machine because I think it's the most mesmerizing machines. So these are the
actual sheets that they use. You can see this is a black color. So it's gonna be a black exterior window. And just a reminder that this comes to them in powder form. So this is the backside of the window. If you've ever looked at the back of your nailing flange on a Andersen window, it probably is that color. And these holes here are already pre punched for that nailing flange. So this right here is probably you know,
obviously a very big window or maybe it's a a double, double, double hung but flat sheet goes over to this machine over here. It's steamed formed into its final shape. The associate Tyler Grace: here who's going to lift this up, put this on this piece of machinery and that's going to circle around to that steam bath and that form and that vacuum. That's going to
suck that down. Once that shape is going to water cool it and then the air is going to release it from the form is not Nick Schiffer: only the water Over, they also have two fans on top, you actually see in the video how you see the vinyl kind of steaming once it's formed about two seconds later, all of the steam kind of dissipates, because those two fans above that are cooling that down. And when it gets pulled off here actually gets stacked up. And obviously, that doesn't make a
very good window because it still has vinyl on the inside. That will go over to another machine over there, which will cut the Window section out. And preparation for the future glass benefit of using this material is that it can be recycled five times. All of that scrap gets melted back down and eventually turns into another sheet. Going along with the sustainability. Once Tyler Grace: it's past that lifespan, they'll use it to make their fiber and so they'll mill it down and grind it down. So it's not once they're using it for five times in the sun, it goes in a landfill once it's done five times it can't be made the machines any longer. They'll then recycle it, grind it up and
use it for fiber. So the nice part about this system in this process, it's a monolithic coating on the outside of the window unit. So there's there's no seams, there's no Well, there's no potential points of failure. So Nick Schiffer: why don't we get over to the assembly line where they're assembling the wood frames. And these vinyl bucks essentially get applied to that prior to the sashes being installed. So from the supermarket, these are all the raw parts that are brought up here to where we're gonna get into the final assembly. So you go to the supermarket, the parts
get collected and organized. And then and this is also where the vinyl covers show up. If Tyler Grace: we go over here, you're gonna see on this car are all the components of the windows that they're going to be placing the cap on, so he's gonna come and he's gonna pull, he has headsails, he adds bass sales, there's post, the sides of the frame are on here, he's going to pull these over to the table. So you can see he's dropping all the parts of that window frame on now, the posts are going in the center post the sales the top and bottom sill and both sides of that frame.
And then he'll grab that final cap that he's gonna drop onto it. So you can see it, stapling it off. And the thing about this is it stapling from both directions. And when we came in toward this earlier, they said, This is mitigating the issue of multiple employees firing multiple staple guns in directions at each other at the same time. So it's stapling in two directions at once. Nick Schiffer: Once it comes out of there from being stapled together, that wood frame comes out, and he's going to inspect that frame to make sure everything was stapled and fastened properly. And he's going to spin around and grab one of these vinyl frames. To the left of me, Andersen is
applying a proprietary adhesive, it's applying that adhesive evenly throughout the vinyl. And once the adhesive is pressed onto the woodblock, it creates a permanent fixture between the vinyl and the wood frame. And he's going to put a sticker on it that's gonna outline all of the information in terms of which way those casements are going to swing and be hinged and the hardware specifications, it's going to go into that final section here, which essentially adds a ton of weight and rolls that vinyl cover on. So Tyler Grace: that entire frame is coming out through that conveyor belt. And they're going to look at that ticket that has
all the descriptions for how this windows being assembled, the hardware types, the finishes that are being used, they're going to start putting on locking mechanisms to operators, and then it's going to go over onto these tables. In order to increase efficiency and be as ergonomic as possible, these tables are actually going to flip 180 degrees, and they can always be working at a comfortable level and height for them. Everyone has the opportunity to switch jobs every two hours. So this doesn't become too monotonous, too mundane. Also, if somebody has a sick day, they have people who
can fill in and perform multiple roles. So they're not going to be a hang up in this assembly line. Nick Schiffer: We constantly battled burnout, we constantly battle the you know what if someone is sick, or what if someone leaves your business at your company suddenly, Tyler Grace: or I can't miss work today because there's nobody to fill my role, right? Nick Schiffer: And it creates this unnecessary anxiety where you know, something as simple as rotating their positions every two hours, gets the wheels turning in the sense of like, maybe this is maybe we we bring this to our companies, maybe we have our team kind of explore different roles within the company. So they can not only build different shoes, but have the ability to kind of spread their wings and explore different opportunities. Tyler Grace: I have to be completely honest, when we were touring this entire facility. I know you are the same as me in
the sense that I just kept thinking I cannot imagine doing the same thing for eight hours a day every single day. And when they told us everyone has an opportunity to switch every two hours I had a massive sigh of relief because like oh thank goodness they have an opportunity to move on and try something else. So they're not just stuck doing one thing over and over and over. Once Nick Schiffer: it comes off that assembly line where everything is vertical, it gets over to this table here, which can be oriented vertically or horizontally depending on what kind of sash they're putting in. But speaking of sashes, you see the cart behind here, the white one, and it's on top of this blue, essentially, what looks like maybe a pallet. And you can see as he presses the button, it actually lifts it up. And that's
designed to be more ergonomic and make the make it more comfortable for for for them to work. So as they're working through, you see the table lower down, they're gonna grab two of those sashes, they're gonna drop them into the pre applied hardware. And they're doing it very quickly. I can't help but kind of laugh because I think about the times that I've been on a jobsite taking apart a window that bro adjusting hardware, switching hardware, and how complicated it is. And you spent hours and hours and hours trying to understand the, the, the way that they've done in the factory and watching them do it, you know, in such an efficient way, what they've done is they've removed a lot of the complexity by by building these systems, building these processes all the way through. So that window can be made extremely efficiently everyone is working in a comfortable environment. And it just makes a
lot of sense. As they're coming down this line, you'll notice some of them have fixed units in it, the fixed units are actually pressed automatically from below. If there are fixed units, they actually automatically are fed down in the back, fed on this table, and then press up and then clip into place. Everything that you were seeing being installed by hand and by everyone on the floor, we're operational unit, something interesting to point out. So this, this just came off, it's sitting on top of rollers here. But as it makes its way down,
it's actually going to go from rolling on being on rollers to these wheels, where it actually captures that bottom edge of the spine. And the reason why I feel like that's interesting is it kind of continues to support the the standardization of parts where these windows are customizable. You can order any size, but their standard standardization behind some of the parts because they have to be able to operate and go through the assembly line in a particular way. And this is where you you think about how you can increase efficiency in traditional building. I've said this before, you've heard me talk about, you know, offsite construction. Here's a great example of something that was built on site windows were glazed on site at one point, and they are no longer done like that they are glazed in a factory boxed up and shipped to your job site, we can be thinking about the processes that Andersen implements here on the factory floor and to other parts of the way we build.
Tyler Grace: I have to admit this is probably my favorite part of this whole process apart. Well, if you've ever taken something out of a box before and then needed to return it, I cannot get it back into the box. So their ability to get this into a box in the first place is impressive. But they
have Nick Schiffer: this I've been watching it and they have this aluminum roller, we need an aluminum roller to win, we have to make a return because one of us ordered a window the wrong size, we can get it back in the box. Tyler Grace: They have the styrofoam and they're protecting the window, the nailing flange and then the cardboard. And then they're stapling that entire box off so that can get moved over to one of their other facilities for distributing. Basically Nick Schiffer: starting to finish assembly of these windows, we do have one more thing that we want to show you. And that is a single piece weatherstripping. So follow us what we're looking at here is weather stripping. And it's fed
out of a large school. It's installed around the entire window and one piece. And at the very end, Tyler You said they scarf joint, Tyler Grace: essentially, I'm thinking from carpentry terminology, but they're going to have an angled joint that's going to join this at a specific location based on the type of window. So for an awning window is going to be different than a case that is but essentially they figured out where the area that's going to be prone to the least exposure to the elements that they're going to put this going Nick Schiffer: before they did this in one piece. It was done in four pieces, all of your seams, that your corners, and your corners are the most vulnerable part of weather sealing.
Tyler Grace: So having one piece around the corners is going to help immensely with that risk. Yeah, Nick Schiffer: a great improvement to their system. We covered such a high level view of this. There's so there's 1000 People in this warehouse today. And over 2 million square feet. I mean, there's a lot going on. There's a lot of different sizes and things being built. But this gives you an understanding of
the things that they're thinking of just like that single piece weather stripping, and that single piece vinyl protection layer on the outside of the window really shows the commitment to quality, but also the commitment to sustainability in all of their recycling. Yeah, Tyler Grace: there's a lot of people a lot of processes and a lot of equipment that goes into every single window that comes out of here. Unknown: Hope you guys enjoyed it. Let us know in the comments.