Affinity windows revamps its glass house

Australian manufacturers change hands every day, but for Affinity Windows, part of BCG Australia WA, preparing for sale sparked a root and branch modernisation of operations. Peter Roberts reports.

Affinity Windows is well known in Western Australia, supplying residential and commercial customers with aluminium windows, doors, security products, shower screens and robes.

Fairly standard products you might say, and in the case of Affinity’s old Canning Vale, Perth factory, manufactured with what have become all too often fairly standard Australian manufacturing processes.

Like many a manufacturer there had been a lack of investment over the years, Affinity has undergone a complete revamp of every part of its business.

General manager Rachel Hartwig told @AuManufacturing: “We had a lot of catch to do and a lot to implement – change was required with both the back and front of house.

“In a short space of time we needed to transform so many parts back of house to increase service delivery, permitting a real chance to succeed long term.

“We built a new factory, implemented a lean layout, KPI’s in every department and visual management. Part of this is still in progress.”

Brand perception was mixed, and sometimes negative, and over the years Affinity had lost market share – its business was primarily supplying internal BGC Australia residential builder brands.

But the transformational change in the past two years can be seen in the photographs – from lots of outdated equipment, workstations, cluttered areas and a lack of any clear flow at the former Canning Vale pant (pictured, below), to new equipment including the largest CNC automatic cutting line in WA at the new Jandakot facility (main picture).

A new ERP system designed for window manufacturing will integrate with new CNC machinery, improving quoting and building critical data for future forecasting.

“The business needed strategy and goals, new structure, new processes, new ERP and systems, increased customer service, a brand refresh and marketing, new location for growth and space, and a whole raft of HR initiatives to increase safety, employee retention and engagement.”

Other initiatives in the past 18 months include:

  • Rebranding, a new website, a new marketing strategy (including digital) and the launch of an e-commerce online shop
  • The opening of a stylish, modern showroom in Jandakot, with a display at building centre Home Base in progress
  • New product launches including higher energy star rating standard ranges, a partnership with Carpal Aluminium on a new commercial Trend Series, and a new double-glazing suite of residential windows and doors
  • And a supply chain strategy to build up stock and ensure multiple supply options for key inputs such as glass and aluminium.

The end result is a production system which permits manufacturing of serious volumes with improved efficiency.

Said Hartwig: Affinity Windows is now focussing on increasing its value proposition to WA construction market and looking to other industry segments to help feed the volume facility that has been created.

“For example we now have a completive model to supply to the commercial multi-residential market where previously this was heavily supplied by imported windows.”

With this recent investment and after more than 44 years in business, Affinity believes it has given itself and its 150 staff the opportunity to lead the market and grow market share.

Hartwig said: “This week we hosted a group of senior best practice Leaders from BHP Iron Ore as part of a training day.

“They were impressed with the changes that have been implemented and more specifically with the change in culture with the employees – the business has proven lower staff turnover and in these challenging labour markets, this was a real achievement.”

Pictures: Affinity windows, new Jandakot factory (main), and old Canning Vale operations and part of the range (below)

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