I have decided to wrap up my latest DGB poll, in which I was asking installers to vote and let us know what their average lead time was. Votes were plateauing somewhat so it seemed like a good time to close the poll and report back on the results. They make for some interesting reading and raise some questions for fabricators who boast manufacturing lead times that are less than a working week.

The question and results

This was the questions I posed for installers:

Installers: How long is your current lead time?

These were the answers given by 157 installation companies:

Quite a spread of answers, with a slight majority landing in the 4-6 and 6-8 week categories. However what is very clear from these answers is that most installers are working on installation lead times that are way above two weeks. Some appear to be very busy with just under 9% voting to say they’re working on lead times that are over three months.

You could argue that that is too long. But you can also argue that lead times from some manufacturers that are less than a week are really not necessary.

Such short lead times not required

Only 11.5% of installers voted to say that their leads times were in the 0-2 weeks category. That leads 88.5% of installers on longer leads times. Much longer in the case of some. So, it does beg the question, if such a small percentage of installers are on such a short lead time, why are so many of the industry’s manufacturers advertising their products on such rapid turn around times?

In all honesty, if I were them, I would not bother. It seems to me that some suppliers feel a little obliged to cater for the few, just to gain some small marketing advantage. The reality, assuming this latest poll is accurate, is that the vast majority of installers do not need lead times which deliver windows and doors in three days.

Think of the organisation and logistical planning required to get thousands of products made and delivered in good quality within a working week. It’s massive. Yet, it appears we don’t actually need. Perhaps it is useful for the OMB who needs a door on a quick turnaround to fill a gap in the fitting schedule. But situations like that should not dictate larger matters.

Normalise manufacturing lead times

I think that the “instant economy” is partially to blame for this kind of thing. You look at services like Amazon for example. A couple of clicks and you can now have pretty much anything you want delivered to your door the next day. With Argos, you can click and collect immediately, or have delivered to your door the same day now. It’s the same with supermarkets.

Maybe this aspect of modern day life has crept it’s way in to the world of window and door manufacturing. But the public is not buying cheap consumer goods here. We’re talking about bespoke manufactured windows and doors. This takes time if it is to be made properly and of a good quality. I think placing such demanding production and delivery schedules on ourselves as an industry is only an expensive way to create a marketing stick to beat others with, and puts pressure on the production floor of suppliers who advertise such lead times.

Think about when mistakes are made. A supplier who has a four week lead time has time to rectify a mistake found on the factor floor, remake the product and still get it delivered on time to the supplier. There isn’t much lead time if you have less than a working week to get all that done.

I think this poll demonstrates that we in fact do not need such short manufacturing lead times. I think it would be prudent to normalise the manufacturing process and base production and delivery schedules around the real life lead times installers have reported on here.

This is an issue that effects the whole industry, and your comments on this will help add to the debate and conversation. Use the comments section below to expand the conversation.

To get weekly updates from DGB sent to your inbox, enter your email address in the space below to subscribe: