Saving time and money in aluminium window manufacture

Saving aluminium window manufacturers both time and money, the aluPilot fitting system from Winkhaus was well received at the 2017 FIT Show. Mike Rushen, Winkhaus UK’s national sales manager, explains how it works.

In all areas of manufacturing, time really is money. The whole idea behind our aluPilot concept was to make the production process of aluminium windows more efficient. We’ve calculated that manufacturers can save up to 10 minutes’ production time compared to the traditional systems available on the market.

Multiply those 10 minutes saved per window across weekly production of several thousand windows, and those time savings really start to add up, significantly reducing production costs of the entire window. These savings have been confirmed in tests conducted with manufacturers during aluPilot’s development and subsequent roll-out to European systems houses.

We reached this saving through a combination of factors and four key concepts. The first is the ‘fastening concept’. By reducing the number of screw positions, all the hardware parts can be joined to the sash outerframe using ‘clamp and clip’ technologies.

Because the screws don’t enter the profile, using clamps and clips to secure the components makes fabrication much faster. Sash components are connected to one another by drive rods, which are available in seven fixed lengths. This eliminates preliminary work steps, such as punching and cutting connecting rods to length.

As all the main parts needed arrive already pre-assembled, the manufacturer does not have to assemble these components. The part is simply taken out of the box and installed in the sash or the frame.

Secondly, there’s the tooling concept. Where previously manufacturers inserted hardware for traditional systems, these production steps are eliminated with the Winkhaus aluPilot. Two screwdrivers and an installation lever are all that’s needed to install and adjust the components. This eliminates the need for time-consuming and costly machines, such as punches.

Thirdly, innovative design has created fitting components that are installed frontally into the fitting groove of the sash or frame. This removes the need to punch out the sash groove. The fixed lengths are all already cut to size, so there’s no need for measuring or further cutting to make a component fit; simply slide it into place.

Finally, we have the handling concept. Everything comes pre-assembled and we can supply everything, which is not size-dependent, and totally bespoke to the manufacturer’s requirements. Whether this is for a left or right-hung window, with visible or invisible hinges and all the tilt and turn, tilt before turn, or turn only options, everything’s in the box. Pre-installed components reduce the number of parts in a set of fittings by up to 25%, so there’s significantly less handling effort during installation.

Added together, all these parts of the concepts contribute to more efficient production. It’s also more production-friendly and more forgiving. Manufacturers make far fewer mistakes; and if they do, it’s not a problem at all to change it. It’s a very easy and very simple system to work with.
In terms of weight, on the invisible hinges (or top-hung style), the standard hardware can take 130kg sash weight, and this can be upgraded up to 180kg. On the visible hinges – the Concept range – again it’s a standard 130kg. We are now launching a new upgraded range, called Giant, which can accept 200kg on a tilt and turn window or 300kg turn only on visible hinges.

How large you go depends entirely on the application and system profile. For example, we can achieve an aluminium window measuring 3.8m by 1.5m weighing 150kg. Obviously other factors have to be taken into account, such as the weight of the glass, the type of profile and any insulation required.

Suiting all types of applications – both commercial and residential – aluPilot has been designed as the aluminium window manufacturer’s ‘friend’, reducing costs through efficient installation.

We at Winkhaus see ourselves as a partner working with system houses to make their lives easier. By developing together, adapting methods to suit individual needs, we test together and certificate systems together. Each systems house can truly have its own bespoke window – each one saving 10 minutes to make!