Inagas – 30 years young
As Inagas celebrates 30 years in the fenestration industry, sales director Chris Kemp looks back with Glass Times at how changing market demands over those years has helped shape the gas filling technology used today.
As 2022 draws to a close, we can be forgiven for thinking it was a tough year for business.
The changes in Government, the War in Ukraine, the cost-of-living crisis and the Bank of England making emergency moves in order to try and stabilise the UK economy, have all put pressures on the way we operate.
Although the wider economic issues impact on how we do things, it can also help shape our business for a more robust and positive future. This year, Inagas is celebrating 30 years in business, during which time we have encountered a recession, legislative changes and witnessed UK leaving the European Union and the challenges that brings.
But through those times we have also been able to adapt, develop and grow in order to shape how we take things into 2023 and beyond, where the energy efficiency of IGUs is going to be impacted further as the world heads to Net Zero by 2050.
Where it all began
With further changes to building regulations upcoming, IGU performance is under review again. Inagas was founded in 1992 off the back of such an event when there was a marked rise in use of Argon/Krypton gas in IGUs.
My father, Malcom, saw an opportunity to supply machinery to support the changing industry. The initial machines were imported and although fairly basic compared to our current range, they did introduce new features to the market such as one hole filling and high-speed online gas filling.
In the 20-years that followed, Inagas became renowned in the industry for gas filling and testing and in 2002, I joined the business to support my father in updating our offering. Partnering with a local gas-sensor-focussed-company, we produced our IGA range of machines, which introduced a host of new features to improve gas filling efficiency, such as semi auto calibration and variable gas fill settings.
The fiercely competitive nature of the industry, the 2008 recession and the requirement for more thermally efficient products in arguably an oversupplied market, saw the number of IGU companies dramatically drop during the noughties. But even as the number of companies in the market fell, the demand for Inagas equipment continued to rise, due to the requirement for IGUs to satisfy Window Energy Ratings.
The wider introduction of automatic lines with gas presses during this period did not adversely affect Inagas as expected, due to the abundance of specialist IGU manufactured in the UK, as manual gas filling of these is more efficient.
The Inagas evolution
2010 was a big year at Inagas. We were approached by Edgetech (Quanex) to manufacture machines for them to distribute in North America and other territories. It was at this time, we also started working with je2 (who we still work with today) on a new range of gas filling equipment.
As well as utilising the latest technology, the new machine design was suitable for the export market as minimal training is required to service the equipment by the customer or distributor. The Smartfill range debuted at GlassBuild America in Las Vegas that year featuring the now patent approved Smart Start system, variable gas fill settings, overfill timers, and diagnostic info which could be accessed via the new touch screen.
Filling and testing
As well as offering a full range of gas fillers, we also offer gas testing products and are the official distributor for Sparklike in the UK and Ireland.
I have used a Sparklike handheld and its predecessor as part of my sales demonstration for the last 20 years, so aligning ourselves with them seemed a natural evolution and a great fit for our business.
My brother, Jonathan, joined in 2014 as accounts manager and between us, we now manage the day to day running of the business and we are proud to say that our complete offering means gas filling is an inclusive option for businesses of all sizes.
Our Smartfill range has since been joined by the Firstfill, Interfill, Mulltifill and Smartspeed so we have a solution to suit every production requirement. And the story doesn’t end here. We continue to adapt and evolve our offering to suit the market requirements in line with wider economic considerations, with a number of upgrades already being tested.
Offering relevant and efficient machinery which meets our customers’ requirements is what’s helped us get to where we are today and what will support our future growth.