2017 is almost at an end and now is a great time to start reflecting on what your glazing business's goals are for the upcoming year.
The technology focus in the glass industry in 2017 has very much been on increased automation and Industry 4.0 and we don't see these trends slowing down any time soon. If you haven't thought about how to incorporate these ideas into your glazing business for 2018, it's time to start doing your research and figuring out where these new developments fit within your company.
What's on the horizon for glass fabrication businesses in 2018?
As their competitors increasingly modernize around them, glass fabricators can't afford to ignore new developments in technology.
The theme for 2017 in glass magazines at the GlassBuild show was very much around automating the fabrication process and the use of technology in glass fabrication. Much of the focus was on how to streamline and automate the cutting and processing of glass on the factory floor, however the stumbling block for industry leaders was order entry. They found they could polish and drill a shower door in just a couple of minutes, but getting the orders into their system in the first place was creating a bottleneck at the top of the funnel.
We developed Smart-Glass for Fabricators to help with this very problem. Smart-Glass is an online ordering front-end that can plug in to almost any glass fabrication plant's existing systems. Your internal order entry team can use it to quickly convert customer orders into fabrication-ready PDF and DXF files, or you can simply give your customers online access and enable them to draw up their orders in minutes. Customers can then send the drawing directly to you for fabrication and even get status updates on order progress with some systems.
Talk to us to find out more about Smart-Glass and how it could work in your fabrication business.
Technology and glass installation businesses in 2018
As your customers become increasingly reliant on technology for the daily transactions, they expect to see it across all services — including their contractors. There are a few ways you can implement customer-facing technology in your glazing business that will also help your operations run more efficiently:
- Move your customer communication online instead of relying on pen and paper
- Use a purpose-built scheduling system to keep both customers and installers updated on site visits and job progress
- Start taking payments online/on-site payments
- Integrate your accounting system with your job management system to speed up the invoicing and receipting processes
- Not using accounting software yet? Check out our blog post on how great accounting software can make your life easier
We developed Smart-Toolbox, an all-in-one job management system for glaziers, to take the stress out of day-to-day tasks like quoting, invoicing, scheduling, reporting and more. Talk to us if you’d like more information on how Smart-Toolbox can help you manage your glazing business.
Increased automation at fabrication facilities affects installers too
Earlier in the year we looked at what Industry 4.0 is and how it is affecting the glaziers. Increased automation in glass fabrication facilities is a trend that isn't going anywhere, don't be surprised if your glass supplier implements a new system for taking orders (like an online order portal for example) or a new way of communicating order updates with you. It may take some adjusting to but chances are it’ll result in reduced lead times and more accurate glass.
Tech resolutions for you
If you’re wary of implementing new technology in your glass business, treat 2018 as your year to learn more about the benefits and how to mitigate risks. You could find courses in your local area, or consider taking one of the online (mostly free) Coursera courses to get you up to speed. Here are a few you may find interesting:
- Moving to the Cloud (run by the University of Melbourne)
- Internet History, Technology and Security (run by the University of Michigan)
- Introduction to Cybersecurity for Business (run by the University of Colorado)
- Construction Project Management (run by Columbia University)
Whether you’re a glass installer or glass fabricator, no matter what your role in the business is, your job will be impacted by technology in some way in the near future. Make 2018 your year to get up to speed on developments in the industry and how they can be applied to your glass business.