As we ourselves start to move into aluminium manufacturing, we at Emplas ask whether other uPVC manufacturers can cut it.
Consistency of quality, efficiency but above all volume have defined the popularity of uPVC fabrication. This is a far contrast to the more fragmented and smaller-scaled operation that has defined aluminium manufacture.
These lines are, however, no blurring. The number of fabricators who historically earned their name in uPVC but who have added aluminium bi-fold door manufacture to their product offering is accelerating rapidly.
But with manufacturing processes so different, can volume uPVC manufacturers make the transition to aluminium door fabrication successfully?
John Leary, sales and marketing director at Emplas, said: “We’ve been supplying aluminium bi-folding doors for years now. We’ve simply been buying them in.
“It’s meant that we have been able to offer our customers a single point of order, single delivery, full visibility on orders- the key benefits of dealing with us- while we have remained focused on our core areas of manufacture.
“We haven’t, however, had full control of the process, that is until now. Glass, frames, doors, windows – we own and manage the process- so far us bringing the manufacture of aluminium bi-folds ‘inhouse’, brought bi-fold supply in line with our wider strategy.”
At Emplas, we’ve been manufacturing the AluK F82 Aluminium bi-folding door since May of this year. It combines a class, leading thermal performance with U-values as low as 0.9W/m2k when triple glazed, with ultra-slim sightlines and contemporary fully suited hardware.
This includes slim, symmetrical sightlines on the frame, cill and jamb of only 97mm and 122mm on the door meeting. The same attention to detail has been applied to the flush traffic door handle, in addition to the minimalist design of hinges.
Luminia also features AluK’s patented ‘T’ handle, a highly popular design used across its offering. The t-handle features an upgrade so it can sit completely flush within the frame, using the simple push-out system to operate.
John continued: “We chose Luminia because of the accessibility that it offered to our customers to different markets. The sightlines are stunning. The F82 has a picture frame quality to it. The hardware is superb but none of that matters without the right thermal performance.
“Thermal efficiency is a key selling point. WE see that day in and day out with our uPVC offer. When you come from that background, aluminium bi-fold doors with average U-values of 1.6 W/m2K or even 1.7 W/m2K really take you back.
“With U-values of 1.4 W/m2K with a double glazed unit and 0.9 W/m2K triple glazed, as an installer you aren’t going to have to explain away the lower levels of thermal efficiency to increasingly energy-conscious consumers.
“It also means that you can hit the new build specifications easily and affordably. And that’s what we wanted to offer- accessibility but also USPs to win business.”
One of these USPs is finish. AluK input multi-million-pound investment into the finishing process, using a sophisticated flash anodising pre-treatment to create an unsealed anodised layer of aluminium oxide, which not only forms an enhanced substrate for the powder coating process but also prevents filiform corrosion.
The net effect is that powder coated surfaces are more stable but also delivered to a marine-grade finish – as standard.
John added: “The focus AluK has placed on through-life performance is another key advantage Most of our customers are selling a hybrid solution- uPVC windows, and aluminium bi-folding door. If you’re selling an aluminium product which delivers the same through-life performance as uPVC, it’s again another very strong proposition.”
This may make the case for our decision to add an aluminium bi-folding door to its range, so what about the case for buying it from a fabricator which has built its reputation on the strength of its uPVC supply? Well, we have a track record of investment in those areas, adding value to its combined customer offer.
This includes the acquisition of our own IGU business in May last year, the aim, to bring new stability and improved quality to supply. These are strategic aims echoed in our latest offer.
John concluded: “We wanted ownership fo the manufacturing process because of the additional control it gives us. We appreciate, however, that our approach has to be different and we have created a dedicated aluminium facility, committing lines purely to the manufacture of luminia.
“We see efficiency gains and opportunities to improve product control and process but we aren’t simply overlaying our uPVC model onto a different product.”
According to Palmer Market Research, aluminium doors will retain the lion’s share of the bi-fold market for the foreseeable future with a forecast installed value of £111 million this year. This is a 36% increase in aluminium bi-fold door sales from 2016 to 26,500 door sets.
John added: “It’s not necessarily about aluminium or uPVC but about offering a high level of flexibility to our customers. uPVC remains our core offering but being able to offer our customers an Emplas-made aluminium bi-fold gives more control and increased flexibility.
“In Luminia, we can offer them access to an affordable, cutting-edge bi-folding door that delivers a significantly enhanced thermal performance while delivering exceptional sightlines.
“We’re delivering it to our customers, alongside their order of frames and glass, underpinning that offer with exceptional security of supply & service.”
For more information on our aluminium bi-fold doors, you can contact us on 01933 674 880 or fill out our online contact form.