With the rapid resurgence of the UK aluminium window and door industry, especially in the home improvement sector, a supply chain has emerged that sees machine tools and especially punch tools frequently imported from Europe and further afield, following established links with many overseas-based systems companies.
It is a process, says Adam Jones, director of Coventry-based Jade Engineering, that has become cumbersome, slow and expensive. And perhaps unsurprisingly, he believes that his company, which has been supplying such products for more than 15 years, can bring significant benefits to aluminium fabricators: “Many aluminium systems companies operating in the UK are divisions of overseas operations and have traditionally bought their machine tools and especially punch tools, from manufacturers in mainland Europe and even further afield,” observed Adam. “We have been told by a number of their fabricator customers, that due to increasingly complex, post-Brexit, customs legislation, the supply and repair of such products, is slow and problematic. This not necessarily in terms of import, but the export of old tools for refurbishment especially comes with delays and other issues that, for such a crucial but relatively low-cost product, is cumbersome, expensive and subject to considerable disruption.
“Suppliers further afield do not have the EU red tape to contend with, but the sheer logistical challenge for products that are routinely renewed and refurbished, can bring its issues, especially when international events and weather, for example, disrupt the supply line. My point is: when a better alternative is available locally, why not take a look?”
Jade Engineering has the proud boast that it supplies every fabricator of PVC-U window and door frames in the UK, with ongoing supply agreements with every PVC-U systems house. The firm has a similar and growing number of relationships with the burgeoning number of aluminium frame makers and many of their systems suppliers, though some remain locked in to what Adam calls ‘a habit’ of buying tools from overseas: “The punch tools and other products that we supply are as good as anything manufactured anywhere in the world and actually, better than most. We supply punch tools from stock when we have supply agreements with systems companies, able to call them off and deliver literally within hours.
“I hesitate to use the ‘British is Best’ tag but in this case it makes sense,” added Adam. “Punch tool refurbishment is managed in hours rather than weeks or even months and there is no threat to the supply chain due to wars, hurricanes and the odd barge caught in the Suez canal.”
In addition, custom solutions such as those provided for some of the UK’s most successful aluminium systems companies, can be developed and delivered in weeks, advised Adam: “At Jade Engineering we especially enjoy the challenge of being given an ‘impossible’ task and solving it quickly, efficiently and cost effectively. And because we are usually within an hour or two of the customer, we can visit and examine the problem first hand, far quicker than engineers travelling from oversees. Often, we have solved the problem even before an engineer could fly in.”