MD of Pearl Window Systems, Jeff Walsh, talks to Glass News’ Editor, Chris Champion, about the plans for further investment in 2018 and the company’s continual progress in improving manufacturing processes both for speed and quality.
With 2018 upon us it brings up the 20 year Anniversary for Pearl Window Systems, a company that has grown and invested for the future through some of the hardest economic times. That it has become one of the recognised super fabricators of the window industry is testament to the hard work and determination of Managing Director, Jeff Walsh, and his team. It is also interesting to note that the growth to a £12.5 million turnover company over the past 20 years and a projected development of £18 to £20 million with its latest aggressive burst of development which has been production led as opposed to sales led. That may seem strange to say but this is not a company with sales teams running all over the country and sales have been down to Bryn Williams, the long-time New Business Manager, and Jeff himself, with almost 160 years of management experience in the leadership team. The concentration has been on production, headed up by Operations Manager Anthony Holliday, and over time, improving the production to being the closest the industry can get to as an automated line.
“We are committed to procedures at Pearl.” Says Jeff Walsh, “We are constantly looking at how we can improve the flow of production, cutting out double handling and devising a system to prevent that ‘difficult’ job from holding up the line. We have looked at how the automotive industry operates, even to how a vehicle is removed from the line if there is a problem rather than hold up production of others. This is how we handle it at Pearl and we have constant reports coming back from the line to ensure we remain on target throughout each day. That is crucial for our customers as they need their orders on time and in full.”
Throughout the talk with Jeff Walsh there are regular ‘pings’ from his mobile ‘phone reporting on the progress on the manufacturing line and, indeed, technology plays a large part in Pearl’s efficiencies. Monitoring of every procedure and reporting back through computer screens and ‘phones is completely normal. Everything is governed by barcoding so that individual orders or even individual frames can be tracked through the factory. Technology will continue to be an important driver for the company and, apart from control through order processing which programmes the cutting centres, the hourly checking on specific products and them moving through the manufacturing process, the tracking of components and the ability to refer back to them in the future, is key. In the case of units produced every member of staff is logged and traceable via their own barcoded number, this allows performance to be tracked, but more importantly allows for complete accountability for the individual who has worked on the customers’ products.
“It isn’t always a case of adding more staff or machinery to increase the number of frames manufactured per day.” Comments Jeff. “It’s cutting down on wasted time, improving on flow and spending a lot of time examining what we are doing and identifying improvements. It would be very easy to look at our factory and reckon we’ve got it pretty much right but that would be wrong. If you stand still you go backwards. Our philosophy is to always strive to improve.”
In addition to what’s an already impressive manufacturing site, Pearl’s very own foiled window production factory is now open, along side its original facilities. Pearl are now on course to facilitate in the region of 5,000 frames per week.
Adding a stand alone bespoke foiled frame production facility gives the company control over the ever growing demand for foiled products, helps lead times for customers and means smaller quantities of profile can be foiled for specific jobs, and in particular colours. With control over foiling, Pearl is confident in its ability to provide a better quality and more consistent product. The entire facility has been carefully set up with machinery defaulted to accommodate a foiled window frame, this is complimented with unique handling equipment to keep our foiled window products off the floor whilst being manufactured.
Smaller sized fabricators
“We are very aware of how small, and indeed, reasonably sized fabricators are inclined to stop manufacturing and buy in frames. In many cases, this is more economic for them. Our new foiled window manufacturing facility will help many smaller fabricators who need more flexibility in their foil offering. We will take the headache away from them, saving them time and money, and allowing them to give their customers a wider choice of foiled products in a more controlled lead time.”
“Our support for our customers both in service and marketing is very important to us. More and more leads are being passed through to our customers as our programme of web and social media promotion keeps growing. We need a growing customer base to satisfy the lead funnel that is being generated.”
All Pearl staff have been retrained to the highest standard, ensuring all foiled products are of the very best, hand finished quality