Posts Tagged 'Window Film Industry'

Scientists develop solar cells with a twist

CHICAGO: US researchers have found a way to make efficient silicon-based solar cells that are flexible enough to be rolled around a pencil and transparent enough to be used to tint windows on buildings or cars.

6 Oct, 2008, 1348 hrs IST, REUTERS

Continue reading ‘Scientists develop solar cells with a twist’

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Desperation -Cause and Effect

I received a call from a customer that I left a window film bid with the other day. No, she wasn’t calling to schedule the job… darn! Rather, she was calling to find out why my price was so much higher than the other company that bid on the job. I really appreciate it when a consumer calls back wants to know “why” in this case. The last thing I ever want to do is put pressure on a potential customer in order to close a sale, no way! To the contrary, I want to give this person answers, not just fluff but genuine answers to their questions so that she can continue in her decision making process.

So before I could answer this question I had to find out what I was being compared too. To my stupefaction I was not prepared to be totally blown away by the statement I was about to hear. “I had another company come out and the salesperson said All window film does the same thing so you should just go with the cheapest price you can find” she tells me. “He said that?” I thought to myself… unbelievable! In all my years in this business I have heard a lot of desperate and utterly ignorant comments from my competition in hopes of closing a sale but this one ranks among the classics and one of the most concerning. I will explain why in a minute.

Now I had to ask what film was it that came in at the cheapest price, so I inquired and come to find out she was shown two different brands of metalized film with a dyed layer that did cost much less than the metal-free dye free film that I had quoted her. So I explained that the differences in film technology often affects the price of the job because some films cost us more to buy than others. I offered to come out and install the competing samples on her window next to mine (the competition did not offer to do that for obvious reasons) so that she could see the difference of one film technology compared to another. I went on to assure her that I do not want to pressure her into buying the film that I am selling, I just want her to see the difference and understand why I am so ashamed to hear that another window film professional has lowered himself to the level of teaching a consumer that all films do the same thing so really the only thing you need to be concerned with is finding the lowest price which he just happened to offer (-Btw it was really low).

Let’s break down his statement. “All window film does the same thing so you should just go with the cheapest price you can find.” There is a little bit of truth here that is surrounded by a lot of vagueness.

  1. Not all window films do the same thing. We have solar control films that regulate solar energy, UV, and visible light. There are security films that retain glass, anti-graffiti films that protect glass, and decorative films that enhance glass. These types of films do not all do the same thing.
  2. In this case let’s go with what I think he was referring too and that is “all Solar Control Films” do the same thing. True, they all regulate solar heat gain, UV transmission, and visible light transmission. Does mean that they are all equals? No, absolutely not! If we are to state that they are all equals in what they do then we are also inferring that they will all perform the same, have the same lifespan, and look the same years after they are installed. That is totally false and completely misleading. “It would be like saying that all vehicles do the same thing so you should just buy the cheapest one you can find…” or “all couches are the same so go for the cheapest one you can get.” How many people agree with that logic? Like automobiles and furniture Window Films are constructed differently with materials that vary in quality, appearance, and longevity. For instance, is a dyed film going to look the same in ten years as a ceramic technology film that contains no dyes? One will be purple and the other will not, but they both regulate the same 3 solar bands so can we say they are the same? No, we cannot say that. Films with UV absorbers in the adhesive only will lose their low UV transmittance far sooner than films with the absorbers in the polyester and the adhesive, can these be considered the same after one loses a considerable amount of UV rejection? Cheaper polyester can be cloudy looking compared to higher quality polyester making one film hazier than the next, are they equals? Some window films outperform others in solar energy rejection and some are designed to let more visible light transmit while at the same tie rejecting as much energy as a much darker film. Clearly and much to the contrary all solar control window films are not the same and obviously not the same price for good reason.

I am blown away by the desperation and lack of salesmanship that can be found in our industry. It is truly saddening. No, I am not trying to put any manufacturer’s products in a bad light because this dealer could have been representing any one of a number of window film brands. I am simply questioning business practices and those that support such practices. What I see is desperation in a segment of this industry… from the top clear down to the retail level.

Desperation breeds falsehood and this is often accompanied with unreasonably low price points that do not allow for healthy business growth and sustainability. This translates to numerous bad consequences for the consumer. The effects are far-reaching and eventually erode the credibility of our industry. For instance, what happens if the consumer we mentioned above purchases the cheapest film they can find assuming that they “are all equals” and then several years later it turns purple, or the adhesive begins to fail, or the UV rejection goes from 99% down to 93%? When they start seeing these things happen what are they going to conclude about “all window films” because after all, they are all equal? Here where the ripple effect comes in, think about it… she has had a bad experience with window film and she believes that they are all the same because that is what she was told. So what will she tell her friends and associates? The effect of one window film dealer’s desperate attempt to close a sale is far-reaching.

In my opinion anyone that makes such statements and at the same time considers themselves to be a window film professional is nothing but a sham. Shame on them! And shame on any company that knowingly chooses to do business with such dealers. Is that how you want your products to be represented? Yes, suppliers implicate themselves by association and many of you know full well what your dealers are doing on the street. I’ve heard the excuses, “we cannot restrict trade so we have to do business with these companies…” What a crock! You guys know how to deal with it but you choose not too. And what about the rest of us? Do we do business with companies that support our shady competitors? If so, then we become part of the problem as well.

It is time to bring accuracy and relevance to the fore and to stop supporting anything that undermines the credibility of a product that can make a tremendous impact on energy saving, comfort, security, and sun damage. Our products are a green solution when it comes to upgrading the performance of glass versus manufacturing a new replacement window. Window film has a much lower return on investment when compared to other energy saving solutions and can usually be implemented for a modest cost. There are many well-made window films on the market that can meet or even exceed the expectations of most consumers so there is absolutely no ethical justification or need to propagate falsehoods in order to sell these films to the consumer. Let’s do our part and clean out the bad apples and maintain a good name and a healthy industry!

-vc

CP Films Releases a Re-Calulation of the Solar Energy Spectrum

If you do not have CP Films’ July 2008 Technical Updates Newsletter then you had better figure out how to get your hands on a copy. The article features and in-depth look at false and misleading claims about infrared transmission and rejection. Sound scientifically based reasoning is used to help readers understand what these numbers “mean and DO NOT mean” and the value and accuracy of using infrared measurements is reasoned upon very well. The most notorious infrared rejection claim in our industry is challenged and exposed so thoroughly as erroneous, inaccurate, manufactured, and misleading that it leaves one to reconsider whether they should even be using such information to sell and market window film. The accuracy of IR lamp demonstrations and measurement readings by common metering devices is put into question because of the selective broadcasting of energy by an IR lamp and the selective measuring of that energy by a metering device not to mention the possible calibration issues. A call to cease and desist these claims was made in order to preserve the good reputation of our industry and a recommendation to use the TSER and SHGC values to asses the true solar performance of films was issued once again. Hopefully, this call to action does not fall on deaf ears.

Most noteworthy to me was the re-calculations of the solar spectrum. Traditionally, our industry has always published the belief that 44% of the sun’s energy is from Visible Light, 3% from UV, and 53% from Infrared regions of the solar spectrum. Making good use of their $80,000.00+ spectrophotometer, LBNL’s Window 5.0, good mathematics and physics, CP Films’ Technical Services was able to recalculate the energy distribution and discover that the energy content of solar UV is 1.81%, Visible is 49.26%, and IR is 48.93%. “No one ever bothered to check the facts”, they say!

The newly recalculated energy distribution across the solar spectrum.

The newly recalculated energy distribution across the solar spectrum.

The article states that these calculations were “made in good faith” and that independent corroboration is welcome. I would urge any companies with the capacity to verify this information to do so for it changes not only our understanding of energy distribution but more importantly, the way we should specify, design, rate, and advertise the performance of window films. It underscores the importance using of total performance measurements like TSER and SHGC to asses the true solar performance of window films rather than regional measurements such as IR rejection or transmission. It will also change the way that manufactures market their products to window film dealers and hopefully it will change the way dealers are trained to sell window film to the general public.

Lastly, whether you love them or hate them there is no denying the incredible contribution that CP Films has made to our industry. This article is another good example of that fact. The need for total solar performance measurements that are accurately verified by independent third party organizations has become clear, and a foundation for a movement to window film certification by the NFRC has been well-layed. If our industry is to gain and maintain any kind of credibility with various organizations and the general public we need studies like this one to help us all see that accurate and relevant data is essential to the marketing and sales of window film.

-vc

A New Wave of Imports Are Here!

Here they come in all of their hyped up glory! New imports with ads designed to make you think that they are engineered to be the best.

One film maker markets a plasma technology and in their add they show what appears to be a scientist (He has a white trench coat, what else could he be? A doctor doing side work?) running a plasma gun over each individual roll of film. What do they want you to think? That they have this scientist working away in some back room shooting thousands of individual rolls of film with a plasma gun all day? Does he personally shoot your rolls of film before they are sent to you? Ok… next!

Another manufacture’s film works so well that they photochoped a baby fur seal into the back seat of a car! Is this supposed to mean that this window film actually keeps a car cool enough for a fur seal to live in the back seat? I didn’t know window film cools cars, I thought that’s what air conditioners do? Wow 97% IR rejection! I gotta run out and get me some of that stuff… Next!

And we have another ad that encourages us to get on the bandwagon and buy some 70%vlt film that rejects 97% IR. Complete with a color graph! Is that the entire near IR spectrum that is being measured? Next!

This one had me baffled. Spectrally Select nano-technology ceramic 100% metal free & 100% dye free. Heck yeah, I need some of that! So I go go to the website listed in the ad and… there is no website! All I can find is a place holder page!

Buyer beware. There is a whole new wave of films coming ashore promising to do miracles. Just a simple examination of the ads shows us that we should be wary. Or think of it this way. If you have ever had back orders, service issues, returns, and the like with your domestic distributor… stop and think of the headaches that await you as you attempt to do business direct with an oversees company. If the ads don’t scare you the service nightmare surely will.

-vc

BSF Interview -Christophe I hear ya but there is more to add…

Window Film Magazine July/August 2008 what an issue! Two interviews of major industry manufacturers and an article on the Dade County Test, now I’ve got all kinds of things to blog about…

In yet another interview, WFM talks with Christophe Fremont the president of Bekaert Specialty Films (BSF). He believes that the window film industry is at a crossroad. I couldn’t agree with him more. There is an opportunity to do things right which would lead to a prosperous future but my question is “A prosperous future for whom?”

Before I elaborate on why I ask that question let me say that I also agree that the bar of professionalism must be raised industry-wide. Yes, this industry is one of contradictions and suffers from a lethargic mindset of thinking that “this is a ‘specific industry’, we’ve tried it all and we know what won’t work so don’t even try and get us to change…” That thinking has flourished from the top of the production ladder where commodity-based thinking rules all the way down to the dealer who still writes his invoices on carbon paper receipts and leaves his bids on the back of his business card.

The energy crisis has basically given this industry a second chance at changing its ways but we cannot be selective we must be all-inclusive. If we miss the boat, it will sail off for good and no one will be on it. Everyone needs to unify to promote and grow the market on the architectural side. In contradiction to Mr Fremont’s observation, I believe that the industry has been market driven in the past but it was automotive specific. Now we need to readjust, but we also need more than just a mass-awareness campaign to set us on a course to a bright and prosperous future.

Mr. Fremont described dealers as “ambassadors of the industry” when it comes to selling the product and he expressed that there exists a need for a high level of professionalism so that everyone can capitalize on the opportunity that is set before the industry. This is true and the analogy is a good one but I strongly believe that manufactures need to do more than just see that the remedy is to equip the dealer with the right tools and information and let them loose to represent an entire industry an ambassador. If a country sets out to find a good ambassador do they appoint the person who is completely unqualified and incompetent or should they look for the best qualified persons to represent their country? (I know what happens in real life so no one needs to bring to my attention the fact that we should not follow any government’s example of selecting representatives. This is Mr. Fremont’s example, I’m just going with it…)

In my own local market there exists a dealer (ambassador) who is notorious for selling a certain manufacturer’s premium window film for the same price per square foot that we were selling flat glass films for back in the early 1990’s. It becomes very apparent that he has no use for the extensive marketing materials because he gives out scraps of film in various shapes and sizes as his samples. A grease pen is used to identify the film and its performance specs. Perhaps, this is due to this dealer not being able to understand that a business needs to make a healthy enough margin so that it can afford to buy marketing materials and so forth. If he cannot afford to purchase specification cards or other marketing materials, can he afford to implement other tools designed to bring accuracy, impact, and measurement such as Specularis™? Or should I say will he ever implement these tools? No, he will not. Why? He is a window tinter, not a businessperson. Is that his fault? Not necessarily, he was trained to install window film but was he ever trained on how to run a business? These types of dealers have no use for tools because the only way that they know how to sell window film is by offering the lowest price even to the point of hurting their company and markeplace.

I am not trying to pick on any specific dealers who sell a specific brand of window film. This is an industry wide problem and I see an opportunity to bring the issue to the fore here. Mr. Fremont is right, all manufactures should strive to educate and empower dealers with the tools that can make them the best ambassadors that they can possibly be. But they should not ignore the fact that they have chosen to do business with some people that have little or no business skills whatsoever. Would BSF or any other window film manufacture want to hire these kinds of people to run their company? Of course not! So why do they do business with companies who damage the market rather that keep it healthy? If we are going to be market driven, we must have a healthy marketplace to do business in. This involves educating the dealer base to incorporate healthy business practices into their own companies. It also involves only doing business with companies that are law abiding. If a company has disregard for laws and safe practices, will they have any regard for the health of the industry and the direction it travels in? And in answer to my very first question, it most certainly involves creating an industry that does not compete against its customers (the window film dealers) but rather it partners to help its customers achieve success which in turn runs upstream to the supplier. How can anyone expect exponential growth based on the current practice of turning your dealer into an installer? In my opinion, that is a backwards practice and the logic and reasoning behind it is no different than the mindset “this is a ‘specific industry’, we’ve tried it all and we know what won’t work so don’t even try and get us to change…” This is a way of doing business that only brings prosperity to one side of our industry, namely the manufacturing side. True, some manufactures have made changes as of late but more of a course correction is needed.

Until we as an industry collectively turn full-circle and change our ways, we will continue to struggle with inconsistency, inaccuracy, and all of the other corrosive practices that have prevented us as from reaching our full potential. This year a major milestone was reached by two manufactures namely, the achievement of NFRC certification. Yes, as you encouraged… let’s partner as an industry and all take the step for 3rd party performance verification by the NFRC. This will root out the “trick information” produced by some companies and leave us with standard forms of measurement. I would like to see BSF’s films on the NFRC list along with the other companies that have yet to get their products certified.

In my estimation this was a great interview. I really appreciated Mr. Fremont’s response to a competitor when he said “the greatest risk we can take as an industry is to remain where we are.” I believe that is all-inclusive and not just case specific so I challenge you and your counterparts in manufacturing Mr. Fremont to change the landscape completely by not only addressing the issues the you brought up but also the issues brought up here. Yes, “tomorrow starts today” so let’s take it to the next level and not wait for someone else to do it!

-vc

Solamatrix -The Interview

Interesting article Window Film Magazine’s interview of Bill Stewart, former National Sales Manager of Film Technologies International (FTI) and now the National Sales Manager of Solamatrix Inc. What’s the difference? Same building, same office, (same parking spot?), and same equipment… he’s still capt bill over on Tintdude.com and he still sells film branded as Sun-Gard® and Glass-Gard®. Aside from this, everything else seems to be totally different according to the interview.

Shortly after FTI went out of business its assets and intellectual property were bought by a company called Novomatrix. The result is a totally new company called Solamatrix Inc. No, it is not the new FTI. FTI is done, gone, kaput, nada, finito, it is out of existence. The ownership is completely different and according to Bill, so are the dynamics of the company.

Some of the changes that I notice is the access to Solamatrix partners and their resources. The first signs of this is an ad for IQ window film which is a branded IR film manufactured by Southwall Technologies and by the looks of the ad, a film that will probably be converted and distributed by Solamatrix Inc. According to Stewart FTI was never in the financial position to develop such technologically complex films as a result, they could only offer old technology films. Another noteworthy change is they are now in a position to improve the Sun Gard brand which in my opinion was one of the worst looking films out there. In the interview Bill explains why this was so and it seems to make a lot more sense to me than the explanation in the last FTI interview with Don Wheeler the former ceo. Despite all of the excuses, the two known facts are that they have machinery that is capable of making great films and now they have access to people who have a history of making great films. Lastly, was Bill’s view of the whole warranty issue. It is a very touchy subject so I am going to… avoid it. Read the article for yourself and see what Bill has to say about it.

The changes have been massive and undoubtedly have altered people’s livelihoods. Change is a constant and many will say change is good. We will have just to wait and see if Solamatrix can deliver the goods and what kind of change they will bring to our industry… no pressure Bill.

-vc