An important step for modernisation

Greg Beachim
Greg Beachim
Phil Slinger
Phil Slinger

CAB’s CEO Phil Slinger and First Degree Systems’ sales manager, Greg Beachim, discuss the importance of modernisation in the aluminium sector.

The Council for Aluminium in Building is by its very nature a constantly evolving and modern organisation, formed in 1994 when three existing trade associations combined their resources: the Architectural Aluminium Association, the Patent Glazing Contractors Association and the Aluminium Window Association.

Today, CEO Phil Slinger heads up a trade association that not only sets out to promote aluminium as a building material, but also to encourage technical excellence within its membership.

“We are keen to ensure members share their knowledge, expertise and best practice with each other,” says Phil. “For example, we hold regular webinars where we can discuss the new ventilation requirements, or how new legislation will affect the industry as the government moves to net zero. And we manage to achieve this thanks to the vast experience within our own ranks.”

One new CAB member is Cyncly, an international company behind a portfolio of software products for the ‘spaces-for-living’ industry, including those developed for the window, door and glass industry in the UK.

Cyncly’s brands in the fenestration space around the globe include First Degree Systems, SoftTech, FeneTech, and AccessIT, and together they are said to be transforming the way its customers do business enabling them to simplify complexity, grow sales, increase efficiency, and drive innovation.

First Degree Systems’ sales manager, Greg Beachim, highlights how the aluminium industry continues to evolve, and that businesses need to change with it.

“We see the market for aluminium windows and doors serviced by two distinct sectors: traditional aluminium fabricators, and PVC-U fabricators which have taken on aluminium production,” says Greg. “Key to long-term success – in both cases – is the willingness to embrace automation and to build-in systemised processes. These would create significant efficiencies in their operations that would allow them to increase manufacturing output and become more profitable.”

Phil says many small family-run companies in the sector generally make between 50 and 200 frames a week, and typically manufacture by hand and operate a paper-based system.

“These businesses are incredibly sophisticated in terms of the products they manufacture, but the way they are set up makes it difficult to get to the next stage of their operation,” he says. “In some cases, the owners may eventually retire and the company ceases trading, but in most instances, they are looking at a MBO or another private injection of cash of some sort. To succeed, this requires a basic level of automation at the very least, some sort of company-wide management system.

“Understandably, many companies focused on handling the increased workload following the Covid pandemic, but since that has slowed in recent months, we are seeing an increasing number of business owners taking a closer look at the way their operations are run.

“Having companies like Cyncly as members is good because they offer a beacon of modernity. Their solutions offer real-time insights into window fabrication businesses, which can create opportunities for them to grow without added complications.”

Greg explains that the core element of Window Designer from First Degree Systems is, to the general user, a simplistic configurator, which takes window and door designs from concept through to manufacture.

“You can use Window Designer for processing PVC-U, aluminium or timber, and there’s no need to manage different software solutions for different product lines,” Greg says. “This means it is particularly useful for PVC-U fabricators looking to take on aluminium as a second system.

“But it is also more straightforward to use than the more architecturally focused software that is sometimes offered free with new machines – making it up to five times quicker to process aluminium designs.”

The Window Designer subscription package was designed so that a fabricator can choose different tiers of functionality, without worrying about paying for unused functions. So, they may start out on a basic package that allows them to process window and door designs, including complex shapes and requirements.

Once that is in place, that fabricator may choose to upgrade their subscription package to include other cost and time-saving modules, such as Profile Optimiser and Stock Assistant, which help to reduce waste, optimise pricing, and manage stock levels that keeps more cash in the business.

“As fabricators face mounting cost pressures, managing waste and stock levels is vital for the long-term health of that business,” Greg says. “And the Window Designer suite of software is designed exactly for that purpose.”

Phil argues that these are the conversations CAB members need to be having if they want to evolve to meet the changing demands of the market.

“For modern forward-thinking companies, a basic level of enterprise management is vital, and so having this expertise within the CAB membership is a significant step in the right direction,” he concludes.