In double glazing and general window replacement, you will often hear the term “Systems Company”, so in this post we are going to look at what an Aluminium Systems Company is. We will also discuss what role systems companies play in the window and door sector, and in fenestration generally?
The end user buying aluminium windows may not be aware of the important role the Aluminium Systems Company plays not only at the beginning of the sales process but also well after the window has been installed and paid for.
The Aluminium Systems Company brings the window product to market
The Systems Company will be in the top tier in the supply chain of aluminium windows. Many of the major systems companies are either part of global or large groups of companies involved in related industries or unrelated if the systems company is part of a group of companies.
Other Aluminium Systems Companies will be independent firms. However in its very simplest form, the Systems Company is in the business of selling aluminium.
Design and testing
The aluminium systems company will be directly responsible for the design of the aluminium window. Working with a team of designers and often with their manufacturing and installing customer base, it is here that the window product will be created.
Prior to bringing an aluminium window to market, the systems company design the product and may lay down preliminary dies for the aluminium extrusions. Some systems companies have in-group extrusion plants, others will use an external aluminium extruder.
In the design of an aluminium window many tests will be carried out by the systems company including:
- Extrusion tests for compatibility between the various profiles with design changes if needed
- Security tests to make sure the window will withstand attack
- Testing to ensure it meets the legal requirements for thermal efficiency
- Air and water leakage tests
The aluminium systems company in creating an aluminium window product will design a product also working with the wider supply chain supplying locks, handles, accessories, hinges and much more. Here metal dies will be laid down, components may be sourced from industry stocks or even created specially for the product. The company will also work on creating the fabrication and installation manuals and instructions, creating the programmes for the CNC machining centres
It should be borne in mind that the systems company does not install or make windows. It is common for the systems company to introduce prototypes of a new window and present it to several of its experienced manufacturers. Here they will gain feedback from the aluminium window manufacturer that will give valuable feedback on how easy the window is to cut, machine, fix hardware, glaze and install.
Similar to any “customer clinic”, the aluminium systems company must listen to this feedback. If it creates a product that the manufacturer finds hard to make or the installer finds hard to install, the product simply will not sell. It is the companies at the grass roots of the fenestration sector in manufacturing and installation that can provide very valuable feeback on a new aluminium window product.
With a large number of aluminium systems companies in the UK, each one is aware of each other and what product range it offers. It is not uncommon for one company to introduce a new product only for other systems companies to follow suit. Bifolding doors are an excellent example where for many years many systems companies did not offer one, but over recent years more and more have introduced bifolding doors into the market.
Sales and Specification Sales
The systems company upon the launch of a new product or as part of its sales and marketing strategy employs many people involved in sales and specification.
Sales involves the Systems Company actively looking for aluminium window manufacturers to make, supply, or supply and install it’s products. When a manufacturer makes a decision to take the aluminium system on board, the systems company will work with them in making that first window, providing the tooling, the technical manuals, assist with the fabrication of the window and ongoing support.
Specification Sales involves the system company working hard to ensure that an architect working on a particular project will specify their system. Any new building, school, supermarket or housing development will in most cases have had a systems company visit an architect or a client to promote the merits of installing their system in the building and help them with the design of the windows, doors or curtain walling. It is not uncommon therefore for architects to have worked with an aluminium system for many years and prefer to specify it ongoing. This is valuable ongoing work.
Brand awareness and Marketing
The systems company supplies the window manufacturer. The window manufacturer supplies the installer, the installer supplies the homeowner. All of these different parts of the supply chain require brochures and marketing support to be able to sell on the product to their customer base.
It is common for the systems company to create and provide the literature that it’s manufacturers and installers will use and this literature is often tailored towards the homeowner, the specifier or the architect. The brochure the homeowner has seen will have been created in most cases by the systems company.
Some aluminium systems companies my choose to exhibit directly at building and home exhibitions or carry out direct television marketing or magazine advertising. All enquiries will be passed onto their customers, but most proactive systems companies have an interest in making sure their brand is visible to the wider public.
Manufacturing and Technical Support
Ongoing, the aluminium systems company will be providing bar length aluminium and hardware for the manufacture of it’s products. Additionally it will have a dedicated technical department that is there to advise on the feasility of making windows in a particular way, to assist with manufacturing or installation issues and provide ongoing support to its customer base of manufacturers.
It is common for the systems company to present itself when things go wrong. If a homeowner has a problem with a finished product but the installer and manufacturer are confident it has been made and installed correctly, often the systems company will get involved as the designer of the product and seek a solution.