Introducing one of our more well known member of our ever expanding Twitter community, Ben Warren from Legacy Windows. Continuing my expanding series of regular guest columnists on this site, Ben will be writing using his experience from being in the middle of the supply chain. The reaction to my first guest columnist, Sam, has been fantastic and for that I am grateful as I am sure Sam is. So lets please all welcome Ben to the site and enjoy is regular musings. If you’re a supplier/manufacturer, then you’re going to relate to this one!
Life in the Middle of the Supply Chain…
The purpose of this column is to try to help those who are new to the Aluminium industry understand the individual issues with this unique supply chain, so that they can see the importance of planning and accuracy, and gain a more rounded knowledge of the available systems for windows and doors which are available to them. Hopefully this will help every body avoid the common errors and pitfalls.
Over the next few months I want to get across the main points which installers need to take note of:
- Product Specification and Application
- Energy Ratings and Glazing
- Paint Finish Guarantees
- Colour and Finish Choices
- Hardware Options
- Purchasing, including lead times
- Powder Coating
- Fabrication and Supply
- Remakes and Mistakes
This week we’ll go over a few of the issues concerned with Product Specification and Application.
When looking at the uPVC market, there is very little use in the commercial or architectural fields, this is due to uPVC having a much lower wind loading capability. Aluminium has the inherent strength to cope with this, and there is always a product available to suit, from Domestic to Light Commercial to Curtain Walling.
As the installer, are you dealing with a residential customer, a house builder or a main contractor for a commercial project? Each of these customer types requires a different approach. Home owners need help going through the process of buying, whereas builders and contractors tend to just accept your advice as long as all products comply with current building regulations and energy ratings.
When a client/homeowner comes to you as the installer and asks for Aluminium windows and doors, the first thing to ask is why they have done so? Are they attempting to keep up with Jones’s, are they concerned about the environmental aspects of using a highly recyclable material, or are they looking for an inherently stronger and higher quality product? The first thing that needs to be discussed is their available budget. Now we would all love to drive a Porsche, but when we go into the dealership can we really afford one, with Aluminium becoming more and more fashionable too many end users simply don’t understand the pricing implications of upgrading from uPVC double glazing to Aluminium.
Once budget is out of the way, what appearance and application are they looking for? When people think of Aluminium they think of slim, contemporary sightlines, but in actual fact there are some very traditional systems out there in the market. Every client has their own personal opinion as to what suits their home, we as suppliers/installers can just advise as best we can.
The next issue is that some people think that it is possible to supply windows and doors which are much larger than their uPVC counterparts. In truth it is, but the larger windows need to be, the larger the profiles which will make them up become. I continually struggle to get customers to understand that profiles designed to be Steel lookalike, cannot be used to make 1600mm high side hung casements, they simply are not man enough for the job. Or residential doors which are 1200 or 1300mm wide. Again they can be fabricated but require light commercial doors which come with much larger sections to cope with the excessive loadings.
This is why we as fabricators offer a range of systems which cover all eventualities, whereas most uPVC suppliers will on the whole just offer one. We fabricate the Smart systems range, and offer over a dozen residential window systems, each which has at least four outerframe options, four casement sashes, multiple bead and cill options. They say there are close to a billion options of Door Stop doors, well we surely cant be far off that with our range of windows. Other trade fabricators will offer more than one suit, ie Sapa, Schueco and Beaufort, so they will literally have a window that can suit every need.
The main issue concerned with all of the above is cost. Unfortunately for our industry, this is becoming more and more of a factor. The basic rule of thumb is clear, the more metal and different types of sections the more it costs, so before you leap into any project, talk to your supplier and ask their advice on any of these, they should have the product knowledge and the experience to help in any way.
I hope I’ve covered everything, next time is Energy Ratings and Glazing.
Ben Warren – Technical Director, Legacy Windows Ltd – www.legacywindows.co.uk
A great start Ben. To somebody who does little or no aluminium, I found this brilliant! I am looking forward to hearing your next post!
Calm down take a chill pill fella !
Lol yes bud Ben will help you all the way he’s a good un !
Thanks Martin. That was the exact purpose of the column, glad you liked it :)
Some great points mentioned by Ben. Having just started to buy my Aluminium products from Legacy im looking forward to his colum.
A great read Ben, well done. We started buying our Ali products from Legacy last year and the team there were able to advise us on projects which we had little experience on. It’s clear you’ve done your homework and I look forward to your future blogs.
Best column Iv ever read. Ever!
Very informative, thanks
A useful and informative blog Ben, this should prove to be a well constructed series that can be referred back to when needed. Well done!
Thanks for your feedback :)
Nice article Ben, we’re not familiar with delaing with the Aluminium systems suppliers yet but are going to be manufacturing and supplying the Beaufort Bi Folding door system by the end of February all being well. Cheers
Youll be looking forward to weeks when it comes to purchasing stock and fabrication then in a few weeks. You’ll have great fun with that buying from Beaufort;)
Interesting points, something everyone should take on board. From a customers point, there is nothing worse than dealing with suppliers who know little or nothing about the products they are supplying. Look forward to the next post.
All the necessary things to consider when looking to purchase aluminium! I think the post is very informative for us newbies to the aluminium industry and could help save many people from making the common errors that happen all too regularly! Looking forward to reading your next blog.
Lovely site and very informative thanks for the heads up Ben
Ben that’s a really useful article, suppliers and installers need to take note of your points and also ones to come as being ill prepared will not help in terms of company reputation and customer satisfaction. listening to the customer and providing the solution they are looking for is key. I’m looking forward to your next articles – top marks all round!
Great blog Ben! and certainly something every supplier/customer should think of when purchasing windows and doors! As you said Aluminium is a different ball game from UPVC and these aspects have to be taken into consideration at the time or selling/buying! Keep up the great blogs!
Cannot agree more. Specification is definately an issue. I get fed up doing loads of quotations for people who tell me i am very expensive. Only when i get the opportunity to see the comparitive quotations can i point out that they are not comparing ‘apples with apples’ and in fact their other quotes for for completely different product.
Brilliant column! Good work ben.
With help from Ben (supplier/advice) and Nick (advice/recommended a supplier) from http://www.aluminiumtradesupply.co.uk/ i did my first Ali job last year.
Articles like this and Nicks, Gave me the confidence to try something other than Upvc . Cheers to both of you !
Always here to help and advise anyone, as Nick is too. The Twitter community will always help their own!! Glad we could all help you take on your first Ali project Nige, hopefully not the last either!!
interesting read its about time we had a column that makes a lot of sense to a lot of people on issues that usually do not get raised. i look forward to the next
Good post Ben. Valid points,tips when it comes to product choice. Look forward to your next post on energy ratings…Dean. Vale Orangeries.