Technology on fast track [Apr 2012]

From getting rid of age old techniques to embracing modern methods, the fenestration industry is undergoing a sea change with new ideas gaining momentum, writes Satish Kumar, Director at Elumatec India  
Can we get window opening dimensions as per the architectural drawing?This has been a debate since long. Why can’t masonry be made as per the architectural drawings? Why do window producers have to take site measurements, when drawings are approved by architects, consultants and PMCs?
Way back in 1999, when I began my career, the company I was working for offered machines for fabrication as the fabricators were then using hand tools or at the most Bosch or Hitachi Drop Saw for cutting aluminium profiles. We offered a package price of three machines that included one each of a machine for cutting, a copy router and end milling for `10 lakhs; a big amount in those days. Quiet a few people thought we were just making a fast buck – aluminium windows can never be made in the factory they argued! Window openings can never be as per drawings. Masons work in inches and feet while windows are made to the millimetre. Masons are uneducated migrant labour. It’s not possible to lay bricks and mortar so accurately; Window production has always been done this way – I am sure you have heard all these and more!Why drawing sizes are important? If sizes are fixed then materials can be ordered in advanceWindows can be produced in advanceProfiles can be optimised, thereby reducing wastageAutomation is possible resulting in faster productionGlass can be ordered in advanceProject can be executed on time Better quality and less rejectionBetter utilisation of plant, machinery and manpowerSavings in terms of profile, rework, time for installation, completion of projects and money
A simple illustration is shown here. A window of size 1200mm X 1200mm, as per site measurements is, say 1210mm X 1190mm. Look at the change in wastage considering standard bar length of 3660mm / 12 feet which is the most commonly sold profile length in India. 20 per cent additional wastage is just because of 10mm! Generally fabricators order 10 per cent additional material considering site dimensions and human errors in fabrication, but what if the requirement is more than 10 per cent?
Doesn’t it call for introspection? If a builder can get all windows fabricated as per the architectural drawing on time, or ahead of time, it’s obviously good for him rather than chasing the fabricator flat by flat or floor by floor. For a PMC, isn’t it his duty to ensure production as per drawings? Isn’t it important to control the dimensions to ensure faster delivery? For a fabricator, isn’t it easy for him to just fabricate as per the drawings?
Some people came up with the idea of sub-frame or rough ground. The sub-frame is fixed to the opening with hold-fasts/screws and plastered. The sub-frame’s inner dimension is as per the architectural drawing. This solved the problem but opened another! Who bears the cost of this additional item?
Interestingly, I found that this problem exists in a developed country like US too, during discussions on a professional network like LinkedIn!
Today, several high-rise buildings are being constructed using aluminium formwork. This could change the way we have been constructing buildings – one floor in 3 to 7 days! Keeping pace with that, construction industry demands immediate delivery of quality windows and doors. Acceptance of modern manufacturing technology is the only answer to all the deliverables; window and door openings can be fixed as per drawing with utmost precision in a lesser time. Hope this technology catches up fast so that my friends from fenestration industry can make windows (and money of course) faster!
(The views expressed by the author in this column are his personal. For more information contact s.kumar@elumatecindia.com)

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