Shaping up

Supplying a rapidly expanding component range, from bay poles and couplers to thresholds and corner cleats, Aluminium Shapes is also offering fabricators the opportunity to extrude their own components. Lee Marriott, group business development director at Anglo European, explains.

Introduced by Anglo European in June this year, the aluminium bifolding cleat might be a relatively modest product launch when compared to the unveiling of a new window or door system, but it represents a significant opportunity for fabricators.

Firstly, it has been designed to make the manufacturing process quicker and more efficient. Notable for its distinctive heart shape, in contrast to the design of a standard right-angled cleat, alignment during manufacturer is easier as the product self-locates as it slides in.

Secondly, there are the cost savings. Not only is the new, thicker-walled cleat designed to make fabrication that little bit quicker but, at roughly half the price of a standard system company supplied component, the potential long-term gains for manufacturers are also substantial. Especially so, when you consider the current and projected future demand of bifold doors.

And thirdly, it is a perfect example of how Anglo is able to assist fabricators and installers with bespoke component supply, not just through its cut-to-size steel reinforcement offer, but – thanks to the acquisition of Aluminium Shapes in July last year – with ancillary products such as bay poles, couplers, cleats, trims and thresholds.

This last point is particularly relevant now, with high demand from the retail sector putting additional strain on the supply chain.

There have been disruptions in component supply since the industry came out of lockdown. This is partly due to limited manufacturing capability in the UK, and partly with disruption to the global supply chain, particularly with products from China, that has led to stock outages from May.

In some instances, this has resulted in fabricators and installers not being able to complete jobs, as they weren’t able to source bay poles. It shows that component supply can’t be taken for granted, especially as we can expect ongoing disruption for some time due to Covid-19.

Anglo is in a unique position in the UK in that we can extrude aluminium as well as cold roll steel.

The window and door market accounts for 30% of our product mix for Aluminium Shapes but our new bifolding cleat is a perfect example of the kind of innovative solutions we can offer to fabricators.

In this case, we identified an opportunity, did the design work, and put down the tooling. And, for a modest outlay, we can help our fabricator customers do the same. Unlike PVCU, the cost of designing a die and setting up the tooling is relatively affordable; you can be extruding your own product for around £1,000.

We have a team of in-house designers who can help with developing an idea – whether it’s a rough sketch or an AutoCAD file – from concept to extrusion. We’re even able to provide 3D printing during the R&D process.

Aluminium Shapes, currently one of only two UK-owned aluminium extrusion companies, operates from a 70,000ft2 facility in Corby. It is equipped with an indirect 900 tonne press and a direct 1,200 tonne press that, respectively, are capable of manufacturing smaller, tight tolerance profiles from 0.03kg/m, as well as larger profiles up to 4kg/m.

The company is also equipped with an Emmegi four-axis CNC, two three-axis CNCs and an Emmegi triple headed mitre saw, and offers a wide range of different finishes from paint, anodising, colour anodising, anodic paints, polishing and chemical brightening.

A member of the Aluminium Federation, all of Aluminium Shapes’ extrusions are produced to BS EN 755 tolerances as standard and can also supply to BS EN 12020 if required.

There is no minimum order requirement on extrusions, although economies of scale are naturally reflected in unit costs.

We are currently extruding aluminium for two system suppliers, but we firmly believe there is the demand for that to grow and we have the capacity to accommodate it. Our entire supply chain is UK based, from raw materials to billet. That alone gives our customers an advantage, and peace of mind, with regards to the strength and reliability of our service.

The fact they can also design and extrude their own components with us, provides additional security and the potential for major cost savings in what are challenging and uncertain times for the industry.