Automation proving its worth

With the window industry facing a post-lockdown boom, fabricators have been faced with the challenge of increasing their productivity and output while protecting their workforce. Dave Thomas, managing director of Haffner Murat, looks at the challenges this presents and why machine automation has never been so important.

It’s fair to say that the fenestration industry has come back with a post-Covid bang; the majority of fabricators we speak too have been faced with unprecedented order levels as the demand from consumers to improve their homes following lockdown has never been higher.

On the face of it, this level of demand is always good to hear. However, this upturn is not without its problems and has affected the whole supply chain with the increase in volumes.

How long this boom will continue remains to be seen, especially as the government’s furlough schemed comes to an end and we work our way through the current recession.  What we do know is working in what is being termed the ‘new normal’ is here to stay for the foreseeable future and fabricators need to plan carefully for peaks and troughs in workflow coupled with keeping their biggest asset, their workforce, operating safely within social distancing parameters.

It’s here that I believe machine automation comes into its own. As a business we have always highlighted how automation gives fabricators the ability to do more with less because one machine can do the work of several people. In other words, it provides a solution for having the minimum number of people needed on site, while still being able to operate productively and profitably with the peaks and troughs of demand.

What fabricators appreciate about machine automation is its scalability. Automated setups can be scaled up and scaled down in an instant, giving fabricators the means to react to demand incredibly quickly, something that has never been so important at this time.

Interestingly, the trends in the market are more often than not reflected in our machinery sales. Over the past few months, we have witnessed a significant upturn in all automated machinery as manufacturers try to keep up with increased sales volumes.

Since our return in late May, we have sold numerous automated machining centres for both PVCU and aluminium fabrication.

The machines enable businesses to increase capacity by driving quality, reducing costs and improve efficiency. For PVCU fabrication our SBA machining centres are industry stalwarts. The key to their success and popularity is the process of continuous innovation that ensures they deliver the features and benefits that today’s fabricators need. The machines have a heavy-duty design and use top quality parts to ensure years of trouble-free service. They are easy to program, control and adjust, which gives them maximum flexibility and usability.

The same can be said for our SMR-5 Welder. This ever-popular machine takes less than a minute to weld four squares. It’s also capable of welding two corner/transom/corner windows or one window and two sashes in a single operation. It can weld five H welds in less than four minutes and change from corners to transoms in seconds.

For aluminium fabrication, our AL220/70 Aluminium Profile Machining Centre has been very popular. This single, computer-controlled machine carries out all sawing, milling, drilling and marking operations on aluminium profiles. It’s packed with intelligent features that speed up operation, reduce wastage and deliver quality. There’s also a shift monitoring system, so all operations can be controlled daily, weekly, monthly and annually.

We have also invested in new key personnel to keep a pace with demand from a business development point of view and technical support engineers. And, interestingly in a time of recession, we have had steady a flurry of new business start-ups coming on board too.

Automation gives fabricators the tools to protect their workers, maintain productivity and profitability in the coming months and years. So, to strengthen and protect your business, it’s time to think seriously about putting automation at its heart.