Interconnected and Complex: The PVCu Supply Chain

The UK fenestration industry is many things: innovative, welcoming, creative, friendly, hardworking – and offers a multitude of opportunities.

It can also be confusing and complex. The fenestration industry’s inter-dependent supply chain can lead to a lack of understanding about the products themselves. Something as simple as a PVCu casement window can be involved with up to nine different companies on its way to being a finished product, thanks to specialised manufacturing processes – and the absolute reliance these companies have on each other can lead to delays and frustrations.

Paul Garforth, Liniar’s Technical Director takes a look at the UK’s fenestration supply chain and discusses the complex stages involved in the manufacture of a PVCu window.

Systems Companies

“Where the process begins. Systems companies such as Liniar design a product and the tooling required to extrude new profiles. They test it to meet British Standards, ensure it’s recyclable and apply for any patents or Registered Designs for unique features within the product.

The systems company usually provides technical guides, customer brochures and sales documents. Marketing support can often be found on the company’s website, their logo should be on the profile tape and they’re often available to answer any questions you may have. Follow your systems company on social media, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter for an easy way to get up to date information and as another point of contact.

Tip: If you’re a Liniar installer, look for the Liniar Sales Guide, which will help you to understand the selling points of every single Liniar product!

Machinery Companies

“Specialised machinery is required to cut, mitre and weld PVCu profiles into the final product and not all machines are created equal. Choosing the right machinery makes all the difference and can affect the final quality of a fabricator’s finished product.

Tip: Choose the right provider too – Liniar’s sister company Avantek Machinery has great deals and machinery from stock – not just for Liniar fabricators!

Software Providers

“Specialised window fabrication machinery requires software in order to produce consistent results – and there are a few specialists who supply this. Fabricators choose which software company to work with and their systems company’s technical team typically assists with machine setup.

Fabricators

“Specialist window fabricators carry a huge amount of responsibility. They take the systems company’s design, tooling, software and profiles, choose their own machinery, and add their choice of hardware, glazing, spacer bar type and expertise to create a wide range of finished products – all of which have to meet the required building regulation specifications and all other UK legislation.

Hardware Manufacturers

“Finished windows and doors require hinges, handles, locks and other hardware – and suppliers are chosen by the fabricator. The range of styles and finishes is nearly limitless and varies between fabricators – so for a full list of what’s available, speak to your fabricator.

Glass Manufacturers

“Glass makes up the majority of the surface area of a window – so whether it’s double or triple glazed, is clear, opaque or patterned, has coatings like self-cleaning or UV resistant properties or has astragal or Georgian bars fitted, the glazed units have to be manufactured. Larger fabricators may have this process in house, but a majority of fabricators buy glass in from third-party specialists.

Spacer Bar Manufacturers

“Tiny but significant, a spacer bar enhances the thermal efficiency of a finished window. The choice of spacer bar comes down to the glass manufacturer – and it’s essentially the bit which separates the panes of glass. Fabricators and/or glass manufacturers choose the spacer bar suppliers they prefer to deal with.

Tip: Use a Window Energy Rating calculator such as the one on Liniar’s website to check the rating options with different spacer bars.

Trade Outlets

“Many fabricators have trade outlets – but it’s more common for trade counters to offer windows from different systems company brands. This means general trade counters may have limited support information available about their products; whereas those focused on one brand are generally more informed about their products and have more literature at their disposal.

Installers

“The main point of contact for homeowners, installers purchase their finished products from fabricators, trade counters and even online. Their access to knowledge and support is entirely dependent on the seller – and it’s typically the installer’s reputation at stake if a product fails to meet expectations.

Tip: Get to know the products you’re selling and installing – including the correct fitting process, guarantees and aftercare.

So, the next time you look at your windows, please give a thought to the many and varied layers they’ve gone through and all the hard work and loving care that has gone into their manufacture!”

 

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