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Pella pulls the shades over poor quality.



Since 1925, Pella has been a leader in window manufacturing. It's a company of contrasts. Pella Rolscreen prides itself on its ability to mass produce its products using CNC equipment, yet ensures that each one has that handcrafted look, said Sherri Gillette, marketing communications coordinator.

Workers hand assemble the muntin bars on circle head and divided light windows. Circle heads are individually crafted using a Stegherr half joint or the newly acquired ProTech machine. During window construction, insert breathers are installed in between the glass panes to circumvent condensation, said Abe Bos. "We also put tape under the glass, against the wood. This is so no glass touches the wood. Otherwise, a good seal can't form and the window won't be airtight," Bos, a 20-year Pella veteran added.

Changing with the times

Manufacturing procedures have changed since the company's initial start-up in 1925 with a three-man workforce including founding president Pete Kuyper. Now, the estimated 2,000-employee workforce uses automated, high-tech machinery.

The manufacturing process begins with the raw lumber; the company uses primarily ponderosa pine. Stock is purchased at less than 12 percent moisture content. According to Bos, the wood is next checked for sinker stock. Mineral water is poured over the boards and wherever it sinks into the wood, it indicates that the wood will not accept a finish. Lumber is then cut into four widths and sent on for further machining.

Defect cutting is performed on Industrial Woodworking Machinery chop saws. Lumber is then sorted by length and conveyed to Industrial Woodworking fingerjointers. "You'll never see the actual fingerjoint in our products because its hidden by the upright," Bos said.

Several thousand blocks per day are then run through a Mann-Russell glue spreader, Bos said, and conveyed to a custom-made automatic lumber sorter. A camera takes a picture so that the right length of wood drops in to the right opening, while an automatic identification of the length and cut is stamped onto the wood by the machine. "We make the most of our equipment," Bos said. Lumber is sorted according to grade, #1 stock being defect free after processing.

Strips are moulded first on Weinig Hydromat 22B moulders, then sent to a Mereen-Johnson double-end tenoner. Routing is performed on a Heian CNC router. Pella also die cuts most of its own hardware for the windows.

To ensure quality control over any new design, a prototype is built and then examined under a Dimetric Optic Qualifier 30. "We wish everyone would have one. You can correct completely any wrong part," Bos said. A technician checks parts for straightness plus compares pieces against the blueprint, ensuring a correct fit.

The finishing touch

A majority of Pella's windows are clad; the remaining are wood frames. Typically, only clad window parts are painted prior to shipping, enabling customers to match the interior window to their decor, Bos explained.

In finishing the aluminum parts on the Ransburg electrostatic sprayer, Bos said, the company takes an extra step. "Our competitors apply a prime coat, don't bake, then paint and bake. Here, we bake between the steps," he added.

On special orders, Bos said, the company uses open spray guns to paint the muntin bars prior to assembly.

PHOTO : In addition to casement windows, double-hung and awning are also popular styles.

PHOTO : Veneer and Yorkite are combined and formed on the Comeq Roundo to create a "rubber wood" effect, used in manufacturing clad circle head windows.

PHOTO : Defect cutting is done on Industrial Woodworking chop saws. Lumber is then fingerjointed and sorted by length and grade.

PHOTO : Clad frames are sent through to a Ransburg electrostatic sprayer for finishing. The company bakes the parts twice, after both the primecoating and painting.

PHOTO : The majority of Pella's windows are clad; the rest are wood framed.
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Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Pella Rolscreen's quality work
Author:Koenig, Karen Malamud
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Oct 1, 1991
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