Pella Corp. has unveiled a new product innovation that takes the cranking out of opening and closing windows. While the company anticipates demand for a new type of window operator will boost demand for its windows that offer it, the traditional window crank isn’t going away anytime soon. 

The Pella-based window and door manufacturer has developed the Easy-Slide Operator, streamlined hardware that allows homeowners to simply move an ergonomically designed slider a few inches up to open the window and down to close it. The new hardware, which is patent-pending, will be an additional option for customers to choose from when they order select models of fiberglass windows.  

“We listened and worked carefully with our customers for feedback on how we could design something better for them,” said Nicolle Picray, the company’s brand communications and public relations manager. “We quickly discovered that homeowners need hardware that is easier to use, and designers want an option that achieves a minimalist, low-profile look. The Easy-Slide Operator delivers on both form and function for the modern consumer.” 

Before a virtual slide-out press event broadcast from its headquarters on Tuesday, Pella shipped out tablet-sized working models to journalists to help demonstrate how easy they are to use. Using the Easy-Slide Operator requires just 5 pounds of force — a goal that designers sought to make the the windows easy for nearly anyone to open or close. 

The new operators are now available as an option on Pella Impervia fiberglass windows. They will be produced at the manufacturer’s Pella headquarters, where they were developed, as well as at the company’s plant in Murray, Ky., which manufactures the Impervia awning and casement windows.

“While the crank isn’t going away, we do expect to see early adoption of this new hardware,” Picray said. “We currently have 18 manufacturing locations across the country and more than 8,000 team members. We do plan to roll this hardware out to additional product lines in the near future, but It’s difficult to say at this time if and how any one location might be impacted.” 

With the expected demand, “we will add additional assembly lines as needed to make Impervia casement and awning products,” she said. “This does increase the staffing requirement for Impervia casement and awning production, but exact numbers are to be determined.”  

The new slide operator took more than two years to develop, refine and test, to include operating it through 20,000 cycles — double the usual 10,000-cycle open-close test, and the equivalent of opening a window once a day for 54 years. The mechanism was also subjected to extreme hot and cold temperatures and other tests of its durability. Its smoothness of operation can be attributed to its ball-bearing mechanism with a Kevlar-reinforced belt.   

Pella Corp. plans to expand the availability of the Easy-Slide Operator to additional product lines in late 2021. The next window line on which the operators will be introduced is the Pella Reserve Collection, the company’s line of contemporary wood windows and patio doors, officials said.