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Leon Day, Managing Director of Universal Arches, looks at the way the bending sector has evolved over recent years and suggests that further improvements can be made and further opportunities sought. New delivery systems, colours, fully-glazed options and new markets are just some of the opportunities facing the sector.

Back in 2009, when Universal Arches won G09 Specialist of the Year, it was based on a very comprehensive and impressive entry, demonstrating what we had achieved as a business and our influence in the bending sector as the clear market leader. It wasn’t a boastful premise, but one which showed that companies across all manufacturing industries should lead by example.

Investment has been a clear focus in our business for several years. From the introduction of the bending sector’s first 3D modelling software, to direct deliveries (those not requiring third party fulfilment), through to the adoption of internationally recognisable quality standards, namely ISO 9001:2000. As the market for shaped window and door frames has come of age, companies have also looked to add other more conventional capital equipment and we are certainly no different.

Looking back more than 10 years ago, the bending sector lead times were 10-14 days and companies only ordered shaped frames when they needed to. At this stage there were no companies actively seeking sales for shaped and unusual windows and doors either. As the conservatory market hits its peak around 2004, the bending sector benefitted from additional orders for raked and gable frames and this spurned a number of newcomers to the market. But product capability in terms of shapes and operational efficiencies has come on leaps and bounds since.

Lead times are now down to around 7-9

days, the industry norm for windows, doors and conservatory roofs. This is despite the fact that shaped frames are one-off orders generally, there are no huge cutting and machining centres, rather the employment of considerable expertise within the manufacturing environment. However, companies ordering unglazed frames will

need accurate templates to order the glass, in what can only be described as double order entering.

NEW FULLY GLAZED SERVICE Most recently we have launched our own

fully glazed service, which means customers can now receive their shaped frames fully glazed and ready to go to site. It removes the issue of adding a separate order for glass, the risk of incorrect sizing and any related delays. We can offer this within our own 7-9 day lead time and we believe that this will set the benchmark for the sector in the coming years.


Coloured windows, doors and even

conservatories have increased immeasurably over recent years and we as ever, have had to adapt to market change. Not only can we process foiled profiles either from our own stock or through collection from our customers, but we can now offer a fully painted service and even a fully glazed option within 7-9 days.

Consider the position of an installation company with an order for an odd shape frame in a specific colour. It’s not necessarily for a domestic job, but it could also be for a contract in the commercial market. Only a few years back this would involve ordering a shaped frame within seven days, having it delivered and sent out to a painting specialist, then received back making it 14 days in total. Following receipt of the glass order, this would make it 21 days in total and three separate orders and invoices. The opportunity for a glazed, coloured and shaped frame in 7-9 days is a big and obvious step for the sector.

The way in which customers send us profile and we deliver completed orders to our customer network has fundamentally changed. We have now implemented a new

66 « Clearview NMS « January 2012 «

delivery process, so customers can benefit from direct deliveries, a new collection service and all but eliminate the issue of damaged goods in transit.

The bending sector has primarily used the

large national carriers, which means multiple handling, the use of delivery hubs and an increased risk of damaged or lost products. We have worked jointly with a specialised local transportation company to develop this new delivery process and with it further increase the levels of customer support and flexibility.


Existing customers within 75 miles of

Universal Arches will still receive the same free delivery service on company vehicles, whilst those in other key areas will benefit from direct deliveries on nominated days. Those companies receiving these direct deliveries will also have the option of a profile collection service on the nominated day for each geographical area. The response from customers has been phenomenal and we’re already looking to expand the direct delivery service geographically to other parts of the UK.

Finally, one other area that the bending sector can harness is to look at other plastic building materials. We’ve already worked with REHAU on several projects for shaping cable management systems and it has shown us that we can process just about anything in PVCu. This is a perceptual shift in what we do: at Universal Arches we process building plastics into non-standard sizes and shapes.

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