Looking at the bigger picture

Roger Hartshorn, Group CEO of the Flamstead Group and creator of the Liniar range of fenestration products, explains how the Liniar brand fully conforms to quality standards.

The double-glazing industry was tarnished back in the 1980s by companies using hard-sell techniques to persuade customers to part with their cash. Thankfully those days are long gone, and the industry has (mostly) raised its standards when it comes to dubious sales methods.

Recently the spotlight has been on product quality across the whole of the construction industry. High profile cases and social media sharing have combined to create an environment where standards simply have to be raised, for all the right reasons.

We design and test all of our products with the highest quality components. Our fabricator customers are provided with thorough guidance, detailing how to manufacture each product in line with our fabrication manuals, and the vast majority of them manufacture excellent windows and doors.

Over time, however, we know that standards can slip. From a commercial perspective, if alternative components are available at a lower price, it can be tempting for fabricators to save money and increase their margins, especially when times are tough. This stance, however appealing, carries a certain amount of risk – the biggest of which is that Liniar is not able to support or guarantee the products should the worst happen and they fail.

In the worst-case scenario, this could leave the directors of fabrication companies open to civil suits for damage caused by defective products – with unlimited fines and even imprisonment.

Notwithstanding trademark infringement and the lack of a Liniar guarantee for non-approved products, there are many other potential issues that can arise where alternative components are used.

For example, Liniar glazing platforms and run-up ramps are especially designed to support the weight of the glazed units, transferring the load in the correct places and ensuring perfect symmetry of the panes all the way around. Our design provides a proper bridged load bearing platform for Liniar windows and doors to be toe and heeled from, while allowing water to be drained effectively from the frames.

Alternative products made from inferior materials are sometimes substituted in order to save a few pence on each window or door – but the effects of this can be far more costly to put right. With bigger and heavier glazed units being used for thermal efficiency, including triple glazing, these cheaper platforms or packers can collapse under the weight. And as the alternatives are a universal design, made for any system, they don’t provide the correct bridge in order to drain water properly.

Mix this with steel reinforcement that doesn’t meet British Standard BS7412 – where the galvanised coating is half the thickness of the steel supplied by Liniar – and you could be asking for trouble.

Steel and aluminium supplied by competitors has been tested at up to 28% lighter than Liniar’s recommended reinforcement – so if that’s used within a large window or door, would you want to take that risk as an installer?

Anyone who knows me will know that my philosophy has always been to design and launch the highest quality products for the benefit of our loyal customers. We have a great customer base, supported with an extensive library of Liniar test data, accreditation schemes, technical support, a database of thousands of thermal simulations, and marketing support.

I understand the commercial aspects of choosing alternative products – after all, we all want to make a decent margin – but I also want to help our customers achieve our high standards, with the result that all Liniar products available in the marketplace are fully Liniar approved.

We’re therefore encouraging all Liniar fabricators to be fully audited to join the Liniar Approved Fabricator scheme, which was launched a couple of years ago in order to help our customers achieve and prove their high standards.

If a fabricator carries the Liniar Approved logo, installers and consumers can be assured of a fully Liniar approved, tested, accredited and guaranteed product – which means we can continue to pass on leads and commercial tender opportunities to those fabricators.

Fabricators can also go one step further and apply to be registered with Corgi Fenestration, demonstrating their commitment to a fully trained workforce, and manufacturing products within a fully audited organisation. Having already been appraised by Liniar, all Liniar Approved Fabricators have a reduced audit process and fee from Corgi Fenestration, making it much simpler and quicker to apply.

The vast majority of products in the marketplace are made to exceedingly high standards – so I don’t wish to ring alarm bells. However, I feel it’s important to reiterate that fabricators relying on any systems company’s testing or accreditation, such as PAS24 and Secured By Design, must have their products re-tested if they choose to use different components to those forming part of the test evidence.

I’m sure no-one wishes to see a disaster caused by faulty products bringing the industry into disrepute – so it’s more important than ever to make sure the fenestration products that installers purchase and fit conform to full building regulations and accreditation standards.

A window is not a Liniar window unless all of its components are Liniar approved.