An interview with the General Director of HENSFORT Krzysztof Gala was publoshed in the jubilee 200th number of Industry Forum monthly newspaper. We invite you to read the conversation conducted by Robert Klos, editor-in-chief of the Industry Forum.
You've been manufacturing windows for 20 years. How did they change during this time?
I can still recall in my memory wooden windows in my family home, which together with my mom, I helped unscrew in order to wash them. Plastic windows, which could already be bought at that time, were then a real revolution ensuring tightness, warmth and silence. But when you compare them with contemporary windows, you can see a huge gap in their functionality and aesthetics.
So what was the first window you produced by company?
In 2000, we worked on the well know in Europe Thyssen brand system , 3-chamber, 60 mm deep, with Uf = 1.4, on modern, at the time, AUBI 300 fittings , using the best glazing packages with Ug = 2.8. At that time, these were really high-quality windows, placing= our company in premium segment. Today, we are and we want to be in this segment, so we use a 6-chamber Deceuninck system with a depth of 84 mm and Uf <1.0, which is glazed with a triple glazing unit with Ug = 0.5, using Tytan AF fittings. These inconspicuous values, probably illustrate the best the technological divide between the windows at the beginning of the century and those of today. And the glass, more than five times warmer than that, is probably the quintessence of this change. You just need to realize that these things don't happen overnight, they take time to be invented, implemented and brought to market
So how much time does the development of the enterprise require?
I am in the company since the very beggining, so I can see our factory at the time - a hall with an area of 300 square meters, in which we produced 200-300 windows a month. Today? Modern office building, to which we will move in, is 1500 meters away! Today, we are the largest recipient of Deceuninck systems in Poland, and in production halls with an area of over 11 thousand meters, we manufacture nearly 10 thousand products of construction joinery every month!
You probably faced the biggest challenges in the production technology?
We developed together with our suppliers of profiles, fittings, glass and machines. They also learned at the time, gained experience, and developed new products. It all focused on the manufacturer, who had to implement it while developing, be able to choose the right components, configure machines and software for them. And every manufacturer solved it differently, everyone composed it for their own needs, so although we use similar technologies and similar machines, our factories differ from each other. After all, we did not immediately switch from 1-head to 4-head welding machines, we did not immediately insert the entire production line - we came to this gradually. But also only on the basis of those experiences we can today responsibly organize automatic lines with cutting centers or welding and cleaning centers with a length of several dozen meters, which are controlled by computers.
Can today's production plant go without computers?
History says yes but present no. . You can probably imagine some small label with old machines, operating without programs, with manual cutting, welding or processing of corners. It's just that then we would not have the efficiency, repeatability, accuracy that modern CNC machines provide us. After all, we also started this way once, but then we worked on 30, maybe 40 profiles. Today, we have several thousand items in the warehouse, so how could we find ourselves in it without even managing the warehouse? I can't even imagine it.
You also decided to implement a completely new plant control program this year? What is it?
We are fully aware of the importance of this element for the company, it is the heart of the plant. We have considered the decision to change for some time, and the implementation itself was accompanied by considerable stress. Until now, we have used a program that works very well in small and medium-sized companies. In companies of our size, unfortunately, he is no longer able to meet properly certain needs. That is why we turned to Klaes, who is more developed and gives us more opportunities, especially in the areas of supply, warehouse and sales. Since the beginning of this year, we have worked in the company on both programs in parallel, gradually extinguishing the previously used, and developing Klaes. We managed to pass this stage basically painlessly and today the whole company is already working on new software, although we are constantly expanding and improving it.
Would you reccomend Klaes to other manufacturers?
We did it for uor best, so I cannot say that it in not worthy. However, I would warn you against believing in simple recipes. Klaes is an extensive program that provides many opportunities, but to fully use them you need to have a really strong team of people in technology and IT. The program itself is a platform that you need to fill with data yourself, and the better the data you insert into it, the better you organize it, the better it will give us results. The program will help us but certainly will not do anything without us. So I recommend it to anyone who has the right people to implement it properly, but also people who want to use it properly.
Klaes is not the only innovation implemented this year at HENSFORT?
We implement simultaneously many other innovations in the enterprise and I admit that sometimes I wonder if we are not imposing ourselves too fast. But after all, innovations in such a large company are not only IT, but also process or organizational innovations, hence the need to implement the LEAN process to streamline production and bring measurable savings. Should we give it up just because we are implementing a new program? On the contrary, this is the opportunity to achieve synergies from both of these implementations.
Innovation means technology, so what HENSFORT has to offer in this area?
We are always open to new technologies, and even if someone could not provide them to us, we developed them ourselves. This was the case in with profile veneering technology or with the possibility of bending them - we were able to organize it ourselves. But we also have more advanced inventions, such as spraying layers of titanium nanoparticles on the glass, which give our windows self-cleaning properties. This turns out to be particularly important in the era of increasingly popular solid glazing or windows that are difficult to access from the outside, and at the same time increasingly polluted air. Our windows with a nanotitanium layer do not attract dust particles, and are washed by rain or a stream of water from a hose. This is a strong sales argument, especially in the era of recuperation and solid glazing.
I thought you would mention your recent invention of cooling chambers in profiles?
We are still at the stage of obtaining the patent, hence I try to talk about it as little as possible. But if you brought up the subject, I will say that it amazes me that no one came up with it before. After all, we all know how big a problem in windows is the heating of profiles and distortions it can cause. We must also take into account that today 70% of the windows are made in colors that are even more susceptible to heating. In cooperation with universities and research laboratories, we managed to develop a profile cooling system that lowers their temperature by 10%, and the higher the temperature, the faster the cooling. Thanks to this profile cooling, we avoid many exploitation problems related to heating, but we can also responsibly design larger windows / balconies.
At what stage is this implementation? Do you already have it in your offer?
Hold your horses (laugh), we have just submitted this invention , obtained financing for its implementation, and built a new hall. At the end of the year, there will be 3 new EVO robots from Graf and we hope to start the production of such modified windows in the new season. By the way, the aesthetics of the weld will also change.
So, when it comes to aesthetics, let's finally move on to design innovations ...
This year, we engaged industrial design experts to conduct a design audit of our offer. We wanted someone from the outside to assess our machine, human, product and image potential. The effects have exceeded our wildest expectations - we have obtained a coherent concept not only of our current offer, but also new ideas for a comprehensive offer of aluminum joinery. At the moment, we want to obtain additional funding for this implementation, and already in the new season start to present the latest collection of doors and facade modular systems, equipped with transoms, automation, frame housing and even personalized graphics. At Poznań's Budma, this new door offer will hae its premiere.
With so many new products, you still have to implement the Elegant system, I expect that your sales appetites will be bigger?
For the next year we are assuming a traditional 20% growth which we would have achieved confidently this year if not for our caution caused by the software change. Nevertheless, we are ending this year with a 15-16% increase, which fully satisfies us. Please note that we ended previous years with increases above 20%. Would this pace of development be possible if we weren't innovative, if we didn't implement new solutions more and more?
Aren't you afraid of the perspective of economy slowdown?
We do not see it and do not experience it at all, because even if there are momentary turbulences on one market, we have growths in the other one. As sales in Poland fall slightly, it grows in Italy, as there are fewer orders from France, there are more from Germany - it always changes, but we do not lack balance of orders. And we still have so much to do ... So if someone tells you about the crisis, I will say that we do not have time for the crisis. For the next season, we are preparing both the Elegant system and the door and window collection with an innovative cooling system, and ... a completely new marketing concept that we will present in mid-year. Something new all the time
Thank you for your time
Krzysztof Gala, 44, electromechanic and IT specialist. He has been working for HENSFORT for 20 years, currently as the CEO. A fan of modern technologies, technical innovations and renewable energy technologies. He plays table tennis and football.