June 18th, 2024 - Beth

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With sales across the industry reportedly down, now is the time to make sure your factory is ready for when business picks up, says Jade Engineering’s Adam Jones

“A characteristic of subdued sales in the window and door industry, is an increase in activity for us at Jade Engineering,” explained Adam Jones, engineering guru and co-owner of Jade. “When there is less stress on the factory, many production managers carry out essential maintenance by servicing machinery and especially their CNC kit, replacing tooling and where needed, upgrading machinery such as millers and other relatively low-cost specialist machinery for which we are known. It makes good sense.”

Not every company responds this way however, with many simply reducing or cutting expenditure of any sort as a knee-jerk response to a difficult market. Adam understands this response but says that it will cost considerably more in the longer run: “Of course it makes sense to reduce overheads when sales are down especially with the current period being so drawn out. And the high-profile company failures in the past few months don’t help confidence although many of those are rooted in more complex, longer-term issues.

“However, whilst many might say ‘well he would say that wouldn’t he’, holding off essential maintenance of machinery of all types and complexities, let alone tool replacements and upgrades, will cost significantly more in the longer term. Machinery repairs for example, which are a direct consequence of tools being extended beyond their effective cycle that result in expensive failures of components such as bearings” explained Adam.

He added that whilst he is conscious of sounding patronising, his experience is that many fabricators will push the boundaries of essential maintenance and servicing, either deliberately to reduce costs in the short term, or through simple neglect: “Potentially more costly than machinery damage is the consequence of reduced product quality which, if unchecked will of course ruin your reputation and therefore customer relationships, with installers and of course their customers. You can repair a failed bearing, but it will take considerably longer to repair customer relationships– which is also likely to be more expensive.

“Even amongst owners and managers that have planned maintenance schedules there may be a temptation to stretch or skip the cycles. Machine tools are one of the highest overheads of the frame making process. An operation producing around 400 frames a week should repair or change tools every six months or so and other numbers, pro rata. Any deviation from this is a false economy: even using a tool past its recommended cycle for a further 100 frames, will eventually cost big bucks in terms of machinery reliability, product quality and output.”

Whilst the industry continues to wait for an improvement in sales, Adam believes that it will come, though even the most experienced pundits are questioning not only how long this slump will continue, but also the factors that are keeping homeowners from spending even ‘secure’ money. However, what Adam believes is a ‘perfect storm’ of circumstances including cost of living and uncertain political climate, will pass and framemakers should ready themselves: “As toolmakers to the industry we are a barometer and are experienced enough now to recognise the signs and respond accordingly. And many of the industry’s leading fabricators are using this quieter period, during which there is less pressure on the factory, to carry out essential and non-essential improvements and maintenance.

“It makes sense. And ultimately, it will help them put money in the bank with production lines that continue to run at peak efficiency.”




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