If the fall nights are turning chilly where you live, you may be thinking about new energy-saving windows to keep in your heat and keep out the cold this winter. While researching the latest edition of Watch It Made, we learned all about Andersen Windows and its factory tour in Bayport, Minnesota. The company produces many types of windows and doors, including energy-saving varieties. That makes the tour interesting enough. However, for factory-tour buffs like us, it's also fascinating just to see how the Andersen workers spend their days.
Windows have long symbolized clear understanding, so it is fitting that Andersen gives visitors an unusually close look at its manufacturing operation. The tour brings you right to the heart of the process. From the lumberyard, pine wood arrives from various timber sources and enters the cutting and milling area. As you stand nearby, inhaling the wholesome smell of fresh pine, computer-controlled machinery cuts the lumber into planks in a continuous flow that handles 100 million board feet (or square feet) of wood a year.
Next you see (and hear) the noisy area of the ripsaw. This huge cutting machine sections planks of lumber into usable pieces that are then sorted by size and quality (or "grade"). From the ripsaw and automatic sorters, the wood travels at 400 feet a minute to the staging areas. Stacked and tallied, the pieces await processing. In the milling area, you meet the Mattison and Weinig molders. These machines shape the wood into stiles, the vertical parts of a window sash, and rails, the horizontal parts. The last stop on the tour is the final assembly line where Andersen's workers put together windows and patio doors. Each shift in the 24-hour working day produces between 800 and 1,000 units. As you stand among the workers, you can sense the amiable solidarity that defines the company culture of Andersen Windows.
While you're in Minnesota, enjoying the fall colors, bring a copy of Watch It Made in the U.S.A. to find other factory tours you can take in the region.
Posted By Karen Axelrod Oct 9, 2009