VJ Tocci travels to Poland for 1515 Commonwealth Ave window manufacturer, Oknoplast
VJ Tocci: TOCCI’s process for buying subcontracts requires a thorough walk-through of our “bid leveling scope sheet,” where each element is analyzed. We ask every subcontractor to confirm they understand the scope of work – an opportunity to answer questions and solve issues before buying a contract.
We asked Oknoplast, the window fabricator for 1515 Commonwealth Ave, “What assurances do we have you can meet our schedule?” Their answer: “Our plant in Krakow, Poland fabricates 5000 windows a day. We will have little problem meeting schedule.” Both RODE Architects (architect) and The Davis Companies (owner) were on the call; their teams heard “5000 windows per day” – I heard “Krakow, Poland.”
Since I have always dreamed of seeing Krakow, the fabricator proposed a visit to their factory and the team on the call readily agreed. Oknoplast is perhaps the largest window fabricator in Europe. They are making a real push into the American market. It was a mutually beneficial potential journey.
After Oknoplast’s price beat the competition and they provided a window sample the project team was impressed with, the only thing left was descoping and awarding. Thus, our group from The Davis Companies, RODE Architects, RJ Kenney (envelope consultant), and Universal Drywall, (who TOCCI recently completed Flats on First in Cambridge with) was off to Poland!
Touring the factory
It was impressive witnessing the relationship between technology and labor within the factory environment, especially the high percentage of women on the floor.
The automation system carried window components in each of its pre-assembled forms “just in time” to the next station, where it was assembled and sent to the next station. It took extruded elements over to the area where the film is applied to all the UPVC lengths – from frame to sash to glazing assembly, then to packing and shipping. Henry Ford would be proud. I was awed by the esprit de corps in their workforce.
Solve an issue, Save a (hundred) grand
Just before going to Poland, 1515 Commonwealth Ave’s team encountered a large problem – the windows (tested to meet Massachusetts wind load criteria) were failing. To meet the code, the manufacturer would need to install additional steel and then separate the larger windows into two components. The field team would then connect the two halves. Their weight, plus a bending moment between the two halves, meant they’d be shipped separately. This was a potential $100,000 additional cost of the fabrication and installation of the windows.
The project team agreed to regroup on the issue in Oknoplast’s factory. We ensured they had a mockup ready to show us their plan. There they tested a window in their wind and weather test chamber, and we learned Oknoplast misinterpreted the Massachusetts Building Code – quite understandable because there were two additional steps that need to be applied to the code. After recognizing the error, their quick adjustments dramatically improved the product.
In the end, the entire issue was resolved (except for 9 windows, which still needed to be field-ganged). This originally affected over 60 windows. It was very cool to have everyone contribute, and everyone engaged in a nonstop positive problem-solving mindset.
Want more details? Ask @VJTocci.