If you’ve been in the supply business for any length of time you will know that the end user can end up waiting for an unexpectantly long time for their order, and when this happens tempers can flair.
The aluminium supply chain is no different. I’m aware of at least one end user (customer) that is waiting for installation of aluminium patio door for which he put down a deposit over two months ago.
In another situation, a different customer is also waiting for delivery of patio doors – again they are delayed by the systems company and this customer is having an extension built. The “second fix” on site is being delayed due to these patios.
How long before customers like these start demanding compensation?
So lets look at the detail. The Patio doors are usually purchased from a Systems Company in Kit form by the manufacturer, fabricated and delivered to the customer. It is more often than not that it is the Window Company installing who has the contract with the end user.
In situations like this communication is the key. Does the customer understand the chain? Does the window company installing the end product understand why delays can occur? If they don’t how can effectively communicate this to the customer?
It is the end user who ends up feeling frustrated with his Double Glazing Company who he is blaming for the delay in getting his patio doors. The end user has a contract with the Window Company he placed the order with and gave his deposit to. From the end users point of view the buck can simply stop there.
However, does the customer understand that his window company will not be the manufacturer and will purchase fabricated product from the trade manufacturer. The trade manufacturer is then reliant upon receiving a product from a Systems Company – either in bar length or in kit form.
The important link in the chain here is colour. Coloured aluminium. Plastic products will in the vast majority of cases be simple white plastic profiles, easily held in stock, easily available.
Aluminium profiles in a non stock colour need to be polyester powder coated. Here again the end user wont appreciate that the particular shade of RAL colour grey he wanted for his patio doors isn’t held in stock and will need to be polyester powder coated from stock mill finish material.
There is another link which can possibly break the chain – Dual Colour Powder Coated.
Here the end user wont appreciate that being offerred the option of white inside grey outside also isnt held in stock and will need to be polyester powder coated and the process is longer still.
Here is why:
Nowadays the thermal break in aluminium consists of a polyamide section which unlike the old pour and cut thermal break enables dual colour on aluminium profiles much easier than before. Dual colour needs to be polyester powder coated for the inside colour, polyester powder coated for the outside colour and the sections then rolled together with the thermal break.
So unless the Systems Company has its own Powder Coating plant they too are reliant upon another link in the chain – the Powder Coater!
1.Order placed for lovely new dual colour patio with Double Glazing Company by end user
2.Double glazing company places order with Trade Manufacturer
3.Trade Manufacturer places order with Systems Company
4.Systems Company sends Mill finish material to powder coater to be painted two colours
5.Aluminium returned to systems company for rolling.
6.Systems Company rolls sections to produce dual colour bars
7.Systems company manufactures Patio door in kit Form
8.Kit Form patio is delivered to Trade Manufacturer
9.Trade Manufacturer manufactures the Patio door and delivers to Double Glazing Company
10.Double glazing company orders units
11.Double glazing company installs patio (and hopefully is paid by a satisfied customer).
We will discuss timescales for the above in another post.
Therefore an order placed 10-12 weeks ago has still not been delivered to the end user. It is not the window company’s fault that the product takes a long time to produce and it is not the trade manufacturers fault
Is it the fault of the systems company? Well, one has to know the reasons why the kits are delayed and the higher up the chain you are then you are likely to know. This doesnt help the Double Glazing Company or the End User, but the truth is that an explanation early on in the process will usually prevent the need for apoligies and excuses further down the line.
One of the challenges facing aluminium trade suppliers is effectively communicating the differences with this type of product as opposed to their mass produced counter parts. Aluminium patio doors are no exception.
>Communication is key. If the products take longer to arrive than previously said, then customers should be told why, explaining that the problem is at the manufacturing end, and not with the installer, and then some assurance that you are pushing your suppliers for progress and will keep them informed of any progress.
Then a phone call back to your suppliers to say that the customer knows the hold up is at the manufacturing end…no harm in putting a little pressure on the people you hand over thousands of pounds to every month!
>Got to love the wonders of powder coating, there systems are expensive to by for personal use but not to bad for business use.