Industry 4.0 at 40

Promac Group is marking its 40th year of continuous trading this year against a backdrop of rapid industry change.

Founded by Derek Bonnard and David Stockton-Chalk in 1979 as Window Machinery Sales, the company started trading as Promac Group in 1993.

Offering a complete factory planning and process management service, the machinery specialist remains at the cutting edge of aluminium, glass and PVCU machinery supply.

This includes partnerships with manufacturers including FOM, Graf, Forel, Urban, Pertici,, BDM, Mappi, Mistrello, MTL, Pegic, Rapid and Soft Solution, among others.

Managing director Joe Hague, who joined the group in 2001, said that the window and door industry was at a ‘crossover point’, with the advent of Manufacturing 4.0, increasing automation and integration, delivering a step change in manufacture.

He said: “It’s very clear that 40 years on, the industry is again going through significant change in terms of what it supplies and how it makes it.

“We’re seeing increasing automation across the board accompanied by new connectivity between and with machinery platforms through Industry 4.0 and the cloud-based technologies.

“This has the potential to deliver a wealth of benefits to manufacturers and, ultimately, to the consumers of the products they make. The other side of that coin is that it increases pressure on those fabricators, IGU manufacturers and glass processors who aren’t keeping pace.”

He pointed to significant change in aluminium manufacture where automation and new manufacturing platforms are driving change. This includes FOM, which as well as being at the forefront of machinery manufacture, is pioneering integration of platforms through new cloud connectivity.

“The LMT65, can fully cut and prep a complete bifold in 15 minutes or less, and is already delivering a step change in the aluminium doors and windows are being made,” Joe said.

“FOM is also, however, delivering accompanying investment in software and increased connectivity through its development of tools including LOLA or Log On Live Automation. This allows manufacturers to connect machinery through the cloud and view production status more or less from anywhere.

“It’s one example but it sets the direction of travel for the industry as a whole.

“Future manufacture is going to be driven much more by effective data collection and the optimisation of process, through it. Forel, Mappi, Soft Solution and other Promac supply partners are adopting a leadership role in driving forward this change.”

At the same time, Promac is also investing in its people. Paul Yeo, John England and Mike Whitlam joined the business in the last three months with responsibilities for aluminium, PVCU and glass machinery sales respectively, each with an established pedigree in their area of specialism.

Promac is also investing in its long-term future with its engineer apprenticeships training programme now going into its third year, in addition to a series of new customer services and support appointments.

“While we talk about automation, we remain very much about people and are investing in them as a key element of our long-term growth strategy,” Joe said.

“On that note it would also be remiss of me not to mention the contribution made to Promac by Derek Bonnard. No longer with us, with David [Stockton-Chalk], he had an incredible influence on not only Promac but the industry as a whole, shaping its direction of travel.

“We will carry on this journey driving forward innovation in window, door and glass machinery in partnership with our global supply partners and most importantly, manufacturing customers here in the UK.”