Perfectly balanced machinery

Joe Hague, managing director of Promac Group, explains how the Graf Synergy SL4FF has been instrumental in driving the PVCU market, and how new platforms from the FOM-GS Group can support all fabricators in accessing it.  

The latest figures suggest that although the direct sell market fell by 1.1% in volume terms in 2015, it grew in installed value to £2.35 billion (Palmer) – something attributed to the shift in premium PVCU products. 

The list of new high-end innovative products has grown significantly since 2014 with companies such as DW3 Group adding new systems to their Residence Collection, Synseal’s aluminium-PVCU hybrid Warmcore, and virtually every other system house bringing beautifully designed flush sash casements to the market. 

The industry is selling at higher prices and end users are prepared to pay them if we can continue to demonstrate increased value. Finish is a tangible way of demonstrating that higher value, especially as homeowners replace their windows for a second or third time.

This shift in consumer demand has also coincided with the development and delivery of new manufacturing machinery such as the FF range of seamless welders from Graf Synergy.

Supplied exclusively in the UK through Promac, this manufacturing platform arguably revolutionised the production process of windows. Its ability to pre-clean, weld and produce a seamless corner joint perfectly complimented the system houses development of new foiled products. 

Unveiled by Promac at the FIT Show in 2014, it has been instrumental in facilitating high-quality high output manufacturing of premium systems like Residence 9 and Warmcore. 

Prototyped in 2013 the evolution of the original (SL4-FF) concept saw Graf introduce new machines to the range which were specifically designed to accommodate the exponential development in profile surfaces and shapes.

The unique characteristics of the machine meant European and UK-based system houses could enhance products that previously were manufactured manually. The introduction of new coloured foils, laminated wood veneers and aluminium clad systems, which could be welded, allowed design teams to create products based on the machines technology as well as consumer demand.    

Shown by the Promac Group at this year’s FIT Show is the very latest machine in the range – the SL4-H FF – which delivers the capability to insert welded transom and mullions into a seamlessly welded frame or sash.

The H-Weld has been developed in response to fabricator-led demand and allows manufacturers to extend the high-end finish delivered by the FF to transom and mullion welds. It improves adaptability, capacity and efficiency, which are key in volume production.

This year’s FIT Show was also the first-time Graf has exhibited in the UK, since the formation of its new strategic partnership with FOM at the end of last year.

FOM is an established global leader in aluminium processing machinery, while Graf is a key innovator in the design and development of new PVCU machinery. The new partnership will see them enhance existing lines of equipment and deliver new machines.

This was demonstrated by Promac Group at this year’s FIT Show. The new SLS FF seamless sill welder delivers the same core principles of the FF range to the fabrication of bay and conservatory sills. 

The clear benefits of removing manual knifing off, sanding and polishing, which are all time-consuming labour-intensive processes associated with the manufacture of welded sills, presents a major opportunity for every PVCU manufacturer.

However, the SL4FF does not fit every manufacturer’s requirements.

Through FOM-GS Group partner ProfteQ we have opened access to higher yield markets regardless of cap ex budgets or volume.

The machinery showcased for first time in the UK at this year’s FIT Show allows fabricators to manufacture PVCU welded timber-look windows using just two primary pieces of equipment.

The first is a cutting module that can prep virtually every shape of profile to the required dimension before welding, and the second is a twin or quad welder designed not only to deal with timber look window welds but standard welded window production too.

The machinery can be specified entry level or high capacity, but it certainly allows smaller fabricators to access a growing premium, high margin market with this affordable for all package.