Window on the world

Jacek Siwiński, Velux Poland

“Technologies affect our industry as well. Today we move towards smart homes and full automation” – says Jacek Siwiński, General Manager, Velux Poland.

PolandWeek: Velux- when we think about the company he first association is windows.

Windows are our flagship product. However, we treat them as a means to an end. What we are most interested in is house’s indoor climate, and impact it has on people. It is what we pay attention to when developing our products. In research and experiments that we conduct, we focus on the human.

Today much is being said about the energy efficiency of buildings. And it’s important. However, we believe that buildings are to serve people. The most important thing for their health and performance is rest, healthy sleep. Quality of sleep, in turn, depends on conditions in which it takes place. Thermal comfort (right temperature), fresh air, humidity, noise, lightning with daylight – today one pays still not enough attention to conditions inside the buildings.

What level of innovation looks like in window industry? What place they have in today’s building trend?

Seemingly window is a simple element of a building because it has hard parameters. That is only the appearance. For example, we are able to manufacture windows that have larger glazing area. They provide more light and are more energy-efficient. We have been producing such windows for four years. It has been the biggest technological change that we went through in recent years.

The fact that today we can manufacture window that combines seemingly contradictory elements, (meaning that it is larger and give better energy efficiency performance) we achieve by combining various technologies. On the one hand, we combine timber, for example, with other insulating materials. On the other hand, we have more and more advanced structures. New glass coating and filling window unit with a noble gas.

How does this technology work in practice?

The window works both ways – when the sun is shining it collects energy, and when it’s cold, it isolates. It works best with blinds. Today often manually-operated, in the future automatically controlled, they prevent house’s overheating when it’s hot. This way the house doesn’t need to be cooled by the air conditioning. During winter season they minimize thermal losses. The window is probably the most dynamic element of the house.

Which direction is the window industry going?

Technologies affect our industry as well. Today we move towards smart homes and full automation. In basic terms, algorithms control window – when it opens and closes. This feature can be integrated with other systems in the building, for example, alarms and devices like a smartphone. Solutions based on the Internet of Things and cloud technologies are becoming widespread, and enter window market as well. The user then set tasks that define target conditions in the house. Created algorithms control windows’ and blinds’ behavior depending on weather information and other parameters like air quality and noise.

How does Velux respond to new clients’ needs?

During this year’s CES tradeshow in Las Vegas in January, we announced our new project Velux Active that will occur soon on the market. These are solutions entirely based on the Internet of Things. We have established a partnership with Netatmo, and together we developed a self-adaptive solution. Data gathered by sensors outside and inside building will serve to control products. Our system learns and adapts to the situation. Our products are compatible with Apple HomeKit. Other companies develop IoT platforms, and I believe that in the future Velux products will connect to any platform of that type.

The challenge, for us as well, is that automation systems don’t work on one dominating protocol. There are many standards. That is a challenge because market lacks one universal solution that would connect things to the Internet and between one another. And that would make it incredibly easier.

How does Velux feel the change related to the phenomenon of technology coming into new areas of business?

We develop our modern solutions basing on cooperation. It’s a change that we are undergoing. We leave behind a business that we had under full control. Until recently we were developing products from beginning to end. We had full control, even during exploitation process. Although for many years we have had automatic systems that control opening and closing of windows (that was a connection of remote control with a window), we still had full control over our product. At the moment traditional businesses like ours due to technology and the Internet of Things suddenly have to respond to them and participate in something they don’t control. It is a change in thinking as well. We need to establish cooperation to be a part of that change.

What is the business philosophy behind Velux?

We talk a lot about our business culture because we believe that it underpins our success. We would like others to follow it. Model Company Objective – it’s a philosophical foundation that our founder formulated 52 years ago. It consists of creating companies that not only develop products that are useful for people but also treat suppliers, business partners, and employees better than others. Additionally, our organizations use resources responsibly. Today our foundation is a CSR definition, back then nobody heard about it. When we share our experiences, we show that this model has been functioning in our company for decades, and that makes this model our source of success, market position and brand strength. Even though we are in the group of construction brands, Velux achieves performance comparable to well-known consumer brands.

Today clients appreciate socially responsible companies. If they have the knowledge on this, they are more likely to use products and services offered by companies that act responsibly.

I believe that clients, we got such feedback, feel that in their contact with our company. Our culture exists not only in reports. It is present everywhere.
One can feel the culture when contacting us, what translates into greater willingness to work together with us. We also see that it influence loyalty, a culture of creating better solutions in the company. As a result of cooperation, based on such culture and high level of trust, Velux manufactures more efficiently and uses new ideas more effectively.