Time for an aluminium catch up

After a lifetime in PVC-U, people wonder why I’ve fallen for aluminium.

I just love aluminium, its possibilities and its sustainability. And I’m knocked out that about 75% of all the aluminium ever produced is still in use!

For those who don’t know, we’ve invested £9 million so far in a state-of-the-art Garnalex factory which will start extruding aluminium profiles for trade customers in October and an aluminium window and door system at the end of Q1 2020.

We are investing to fill a gap in capacity, and a gap in innovation, quality and service. The UK consumes around 190,000 tonnes of aluminium profile a year, but it only makes around 110,000 tonnes so it has to import the rest. People don’t need reminding that lead times are long in aluminium. It takes several weeks from Europe and there are long delays in the UK too, plus potential complications importing from further afield. Now we also have the added complications and uncertainty from Brexit. So, the need for more made-in-Britain product is obvious.

What are the other gaps? Having been an aluminium profile customer enables you to see things with fresh eyes. It’s always puzzled me that compared to the changes we’ve seen in timber and PVC-U, aluminium windows and doors have changed little in the last 30 years or so. Their appearance is pretty similar, they’re fabricated as you would have made them back then, and they install in the same old way. Apart from improving their thermal performance, very little has changed. Aluminium’s service levels also compare poorly with the standard offered by the PVC-U market.

Innovation in aluminium has lagged PVC-U and timber, which practically reinvented itself in the last 20 years. We believe it’s time for an aluminium catch up.

Few aluminium systems companies extrude or extrude in the UK: they buy-in and subcontract the finishing and painting. There’s been very little capital expenditure invested in new machinery in recent years, so maintaining good productivity and quality can be difficult.

We assembled a high-powered team of technical experts to take a fresh look at aluminium with the aim of making a new system easier, faster and better to fabricate and install than other aluminium systems by incorporating all the innovations and improvements that should have taken place over the last 30 years. The team examined every aspect of aluminium windows and doors from performance and looks, to how they’re made and installed. And they’ve redesigned the aluminium window and door from the ground up.

Anyone can make big claims, and the industry is not shy of overclaiming, but we’ll let fabricators and installers be the judge of these claims. When you’ve seen it, I think you’ll agree that it is aluminium, but not as the industry knows it.

Roger Hartshorn
CEO, Garnalex