Building Windows deploys hundreds of glass stillages to safely transport the four hundred windows and doors it produces each week to customers all over Belgium. Whereas in the past a lot of time and manual work went into locating these stillages, with some of them getting lost, Building Windows now relies on tracking and IoT technology from Sensolus, a specialist in connected asset management, to map out its stillages fleet. This enables the company from Anzegem to deploy their glass stillages more efficiently, communicate more transparently to customers and save costs by not investing in unnecessary new equipment.
For forty years, Building Windows has been specializing in the production of windows and doors for the professional market. For installation with the end customer, joiners and installers easily find what they are looking for in the extensive range of profiles in plastic and aluminum of the flourishing Anzegem company. Building Windows is active throughout the country and is the largest Belgian distributor of Aluplast profiles. Today, the manufacturer employs about 65 people, including around 15 white-collar workers.
Lack of overview
Building Windows assembles no less than four hundred windows and doors every week. Once finished, these are placed in the workshop on stillages, steel holders that guarantee safe transport to the customer or the end customer’s site. Two drivers are on the road full time for deliveries and the retrieval of empty stillages. But along with growing production over the years, the number of these stillages has also ramped up into the hundreds, leading to an ever-increasing challenge to keep track and maintain an overview.
“As a result, glass stillages sometimes stayed too long with customers, creating a shortage in the workshop,” says Patrick Vermeersch, operations manager at Building Windows. “Especially in busier periods, this could lead to a bottleneck in our supply and unnecessary investments in additional equipment. If you consider that the cost of a new glass stillage quickly amounts to 1,200 euros, you know expenses rise in no time. Human error also caused a lot of lost time. For example, it often happened that a wrong address was briefed for the collection of a stillage or a driver showed up for delivery at a wrong address.”
Localization even without GPS coverage
Therefore, Building Windows sought refuge in Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and tracking technology. That’s how they ended up with Sensolus, a Belgian specialist in connected asset management. Via Convium, a partner of Sensolus, the window and door manufacturer was supported throughout every step of the process. During a six-month demo period, they searched for the best possible tracking technology. “Building Windows was looking for a compact but robust tracker that combines multiple communication technologies, so that localization is also possible without GPS coverage. A long-life battery was also a must. Building Windows found all these criteria in the Track 1020, our latest generation tracker,” says Michiel Raat, business development manager at Sensolus.
The tracker is also equipped with an anti-theft function. When it is illegitimately removed from the stillage, the person responsible at Building Windows is immediately notified via an alert. Convium also developed a special metal bracket in which the trackers can be mounted on the stillages and which further impedes sabotage. A total of 300 trackers will be installed on the stillages that are used most often.
User-friendly cloud platform
The data from all trackers is collected in the Sensolus platform, which provides a clear overview of the locations of all stillages in a dashboard. A ‘geozone’ was set up for the Building Windows warehouse. “By setting a perimeter around the site, one can monitor which and how many stillages are in this geozone and when they enter or leave the zone. All these insights can then be put into reports, which greatly simplifies the analysis and optimization of the stillage rotation,” says Michiel Raat.
“Thanks to the platform, there is no doubt about where our stillages are and how long the customer has been using them. We can therefore communicate transparently with customers about this and retrieve the stillages faster. Knowing that they are tracked also makes our customers treat them more carefully, allowing us to save on maintenance costs and new equipment. Human error is now also out of the question. Our transport managers can always work with precise data, while our drivers can use the Sensolus mobile app to optimize their delivery route and navigate to the exact locations of the stillages. The app shows all order information and any details about the stillages and their specific location. Previously, they could only rely on an address but at a large site or yard it was often still a long search. Thanks to Sensolus, that is now a thing of the past,” concludes Patrick Vermeersch.
About Building Windows
Building Windows is a dynamic company that has specialized in the production of windows and doors in plastic and aluminum for more than 40 years. The company originated as a subsidiary of Building Plastics, the market leader in roller shutter profiles, accessories, and finished products.