Interview with Stuga’s Technical Director, Gareth Green, at this year’s FIT show.
Interview with Stuga’s Technical Director, Gareth Green, at this year’s FIT show.
Perfect Glazing purchase top of the range Stuga ZX4
Glasgow uPVC fabricator Perfect Glazing has recently taken delivery of a brand new Stuga ZX4-MK2 sawing & machining center. The new machine replaces a German model that apparently suffered from accuracy issues and poor support. With a capacity of around 1,000 windows per week the ZX4 is able to produce twice as many windows as the machine it has replaced and comes with many inbuilt benefits to make operation easier and more straightforward.
Perfect Glazing is one of the fastest growing fabricators in Scotland and has a strong determination to do even better. The company is family owned with two generations of the family fully involved in the business including mother and father Rose and John, son David and daughter Kerry. This family commitment helps drive the company forward at all levels. On a recent visit to check out the installation John stated his determination to grow enough during the next two years to be able to purchase a second Stuga ZX4.
Following their disappointment with the previous sawing & machining center Perfect Glazing looked around the market and checked a lot of suppliers as well as asking opinions before choosing Stuga. When pressed for reasons why Stuga was chosen it seemed to come down to a combination of the formidable reputation of both the ZX4 and the Stuga back-up. John found that dealing with a foreign manufacturer through a British dealer meant there were always delays in spares and back-up even though it was claimed this wouldn’t be the case. With Stuga John talks directly to the service center in Norfolk where he gets first class and fast back-up. Apart from their own seven technicians Stuga can also draw on the resources of The Saw Center in Glasgow for fast response where there are two fully trained engineers that are able to deal with most day to day issues that may occur.
The ZX4-MK2 is the latest version of this popular machine that has sold well in the last year and can easily and accurately produce 800 to 1,000 windows in a normal week. This machine can produce all required saw cuts and preps having the benefit of the Stuga rotary tooling system that creates incredible flexibility for prepping, profile by profile and operation by operation. Preps can be placed anywhere within three hundred and sixty degrees and this is controlled by the software. The graphic interface makes adjustment of the position accurate and simple. The ZX4 measures each length of profile and instantly re-optimizes the batch if random offcuts are added meaning that offcuts are always tightly controlled. Management software also communicates every detail concerning the performance and efficiency of the machine including running and downtime details. The multi-bar lateral buffer station is a significant factor in making the ZX4 so fast because sawing and machining functions are separated to minimize delays between the two sides of the machine, therefore idle time while sawing waits for prepping to complete or vice versa are very infrequent.
The Perfect ZX4 is number 17 of 18 Stuga sawing & machining centers installed in Scotland with number 19 coming in four months’ time.
Automated sawing & machining for Scottish fabricator
Pinefield Glass based in Elgin, Scotland, have just had a Stuga ZX3 installed and are already feeling the many benefits of automated sawing & machining for the first time. Fabricating the Eurocell Eurologik profiles Pinefield have been looking at automated sawing & machining for some time and chose Stuga for several reasons. In Scotland most fabricators talk to one another and it soon became apparent that with sixteen automatic sawing & machining centers in the Scottish market Stuga were the market leader by a long way.
Elgin has a very northerly position and it was vital for Pinefield to deal with a supplier that would be able to give them the back-up needed for their geographical situation. Stuga were well ahead of the competition in several respects with the most significant assets being as follows:-
Pinefield Glass supply all sectors of the window and door market including retail, commercial, new build and trade so it is therefore important to the company that automation can be fully supported in order that the they can fulfill delivery promises on time. The Stuga ZX3 is capable of producing 650 to 700 windows per week and although this level of capacity is not yet required Pinefield are soon likely to grow as a result of this purchase.
The ZX3 comes with the Stuga rotary tooling system which gives it considerably more flexibility than fixed tooling heads with the ability to place a prep on any profile anywhere within three hundred and sixty degrees, profile by profile. The ZX3 also enjoys the benefits of a lateral buffer station working between the independent sawing and machining modules which means that sawing and machining almost never hold each other up as happens on machines with inline buffers or no buffer at all. It is this function that makes the ZX3 much faster than similarly sized machines that do not have this feature.
Once the Stuga warranty on the ZX3 expires Pinefield will be able to purchase the benefits of a service contract that is a major preventative maintenance feature offered to all Stuga customers. It is only the breadth and depth of Stuga backup that allows the company to provide this kind of total care option to its customers and be able to give a guaranteed fast call-out for those critical moments when things go wrong just at the worst possible time.
Direct Trade purchase fourth Stuga Sawing & Machining Centre
Direct Trade (Yorkshire) Ltd have recently invested in a Stuga ZX3 sawing & machining centre for their new door manufacturing factory in Doncaster. Well aware of the benefits of Stuga sawing and machining from their window factory, volumes of doors soon signalled that the efficiencies from automation could generate additional capacity and the order was quickly negotiated.
Several Stuga customers have three sawing & machining centres but this is the first Stuga customer to have four. It is a known fact that some fabricators have had to purchase a second sawing & machining centre fairly soon after the first because the first machine didn’t give the output promised but with Direct Trade it has been a case of steady growth within the company that has created the purchases of more Stuga machines. The first machine was the original Stuga Flowline in 2003 with a capacity of around 550 windows per week. This was followed by a ZX3 in 2006 with a capacity of 650 to 700 windows per week and another on in 2009 with the same capacity. With the current pattern of investment in Stuga’s around every three years Stuga will be hoping for the success of this major player to continue.
Stuga guarantee the output of their sawing & machining centres so the purchaser has the comfort of knowing what he will get. In doing this the product mix, level and type of preps required and window styles are all taken into the calculations to come up with an accurate figure. Direct Trade plan their business very carefully realising that running automatic equipment flat out creates greater risk of breakdowns and leave no time for proper care and maintenance, so machines are rarely run to full capacity and extra capacity is purchased in good time. All their Stuga machines are covered by Service Contracts that guarantee regular servicing on a scheduled basis by Stuga as well as proper in-house maintenance by trained staff. Investment even in tough times is what sets companies like Direct Trade aside from many other fabricators that sweat their assets to the limit and bear the inevitable inefficient consequences.
Direct Trade fabricate the System 10 and Rustique profile systems and find the Stuga rotary tooling system extremely versatile when it comes to programming every detail that is required to obtain the optimum performance versus flexibility. With preps being possible anywhere within three hundred and sixty degrees around any profile it really is possible to get much greater versatility than with a limited number of fixed heads. This is the reason that more and more competitors are copying this idea pioneered by Stuga for British windows.
Another key to the performance of Stuga sawing & machining centres is the buffer station that is lateral to the sawing and machining functions. The Stuga ZX3 and ZX4 machines have this lateral buffer station creating a situation where there is rarely any conflict between sawing and machining, so no hold ups with one function waiting for the other. Inline buffer stations cannot create this flexibility which is the primary cause of limiting their output.
Stuga back-up their machines with a service centre and six geographically based technicians. Software is all written in-house and parts are all resourced in this country for faster availability.
Putting a new engine in an old car
Someone recently quoted that old expression ‘you can put a new engine in an old car but it is still an old car’. This is of course true but what if you can actually rebuild the whole car and make it better than some new cars complete with a full warranty and total service care back-up? We are of course referring to Stuga rebuilt sawing & machining centers for uPVC window and door production rather than cars, along with somewhat juvenile negative publicity aimed at offering new and cheap machines from a low cost manufacturing country.
For those of us that can remember how cars were built in the days prior to mass production these vehicles were much like bespoke machine tools that are used for uPVC window production whereby every part can be replaced as required creating a fully rebuilt machine with a new engine. The original quote appeared to suggest that it was perhaps better to purchase a new machine that was cheap, with the super cheap price being connected with a strong Pound however where the now fast sinking Pound leaves that one is an interesting question. This of course could be considered if the new machine and the rebuilt machine were like for like but they are not and even a rebuilt Stuga Flowline has considerably better output than the machine being put forward against it. ‘Apples for apples’ comes to mind.
The fact is that some fabricators like to buy rebuilt British, direct from the manufacturer, rather than cheap and new from a dealer with a foreign manufacturer that has no track record of building this type of machine for our window styles. Perhaps the machines will become established in the future but how much pain does the unsuspecting fabricator need to take on behalf of the developers of a new machine, even if they have been given a fabulous introductory discount?
Even more important might be the back-up for such an important piece of production equipment. It doesn’t matter if the car has a new engine or an old one if the supplier doesn’t have the capacity or skills to offer a top class and fast service in every eventuality that might occur and potentially halt production. If the machine breaks down on Friday afternoon and the technical support is in a time zone that is, say, two hours in front of the UK then perhaps it could be sometime Monday before the fault is identified and the parts can be ordered. When will the machine then be back in production? Perhaps the supplier does have what is needed but purchasers need to make sure and sadly most don’t.
Stuga are always happy to be in competition with other suppliers but we suggest that potential customers look beyond the hype for in-depth technical resource here on the ground in this country where it really counts. A visit to Stuga isn’t quite as exotic as visiting somewhere like Istanbul for instance but it doesn’t take as long either, the language and culture in Norfolk are arguably British, the time-zone is the same and the depth of technical resource can be seen and touched. The stock can be looked at and the team behind design, build, software and back-up all met in one day.
Stuga are currently building more new than rebuilt machines but demand for Stuga rebuilds with a proven track record are such that the company is actively seeking machines to fill a waiting list. A Stuga Flowline rebuilt is able to produce between 500 and 600 windows per week. The same machine built to a ZX3 specification can produce 600 to 700 windows per week and both versions come with 12 months parts and labour warranty. An extended warranty can also be purchased as long as the machine is properly serviced by Stuga technicians. All outputs of Stuga machines are guaranteed but some dealers claim that the output of these machines cannot be calculated. If this is the case then how can Stuga guarantee it? The simple fact is that it can be easily calculated.
Sixteen fabricators have now benefitted from Stuga rebuilds. Some of these are new customers and some are established ones that purchased their Stuga 10 to 13 years ago, made hundreds of thousands of windows with it and now want to come up to date with a newer more versatile version. Others simply wanted more capacity at an affordable price but wanted another Stuga rather than something new and unknown that is slower and has no additional benefits.
With sales of new machines picking up Stuga hope to take more old machines back in part exchange so that the waiting list for rebuilds complete with their new engines can be satisfied to everyone’s benefit. Orders for new machines include a second recent ZX4 top of the range sawing & machine center with an output of 800 to 1000 windows per week and an AutoFlow-2VS for producing ‘VS’ style special operations in addition to all normal casement, tilt & turn and door outputs. The AutoFlow is a fast machine with a small footprint including the optional facility to produce the frame to sill angle as well as the mechanical preps in the VS sills which it also saws. Variable angles are also possible.
It is hoped that more fabricators will invest in the latest technology especially now that the government has introduced one hundred percent capital allowances on machinery and the ‘funding for lending’ scheme is making money slightly more available for fabricators with satisfactory credit status. The latest Stuga sawing & machining centers have even more intelligent software, use offcuts up very quickly and intelligently as well as come with the latest management systems to tell management about output, efficiency, downtime etc. All of this is available on every new model and all Stuga rebuilds.
Technology, innovation, total customer care, peace of mind, enduring brand and local as well. These are the qualities you get whether buying a brand new machine or simply want an amazing value for money rebuild with a new engine from the experts, Stuga.
A British summer with another British result!
It was quite fitting that a very British summer gave way to a very British order when Keyframe of Bolton decided to order a much needed new sawing & machining center from Stuga, a British manufacturer. The Stuga ZX4 is capable of volumes of between 800 and 1,000 depending on the styles and operations selected and this will double the output capability for Keyframe without having to work so many hours.
Having purchased a well-known German brand through a dealer first time round Keyframe decided that a more patriotic choice might be on the cards this time.
When first purchasing a sawing & machining center Keyframe thought that expensive and German was the obvious route and whilst their choice was not at all bad they found the cost very hard to justify when needing to purchase a second machine, so they looked closely at Stuga. Joint Managing Director Jimmy Whittles asked the question ‘why not look at Stuga?’ considering the fact that they have so many successful installations in this country?’ How can they be a bad choice when the vast majority of fabricators have already chosen them? Can so many people be so wrong? He came to the conclusion they couldn’t and after a thorough vetting process an order was placed.
Keyframe are so busy that the entire factory has been ripped apart and revamped in order to accommodate the new Stuga ZX4 and other equipment needed to expand production. This is a major step change for Keyframe with new contracts won and orders piling up therefore Stuga are a key choice with their impressive reputation for service and back-up. Keyframe soon learnt that even German technology goes wrong sometimes and when this happens back-up is vital, therefore the machinery supplier needs to be able to give very fast support. Stuga are able to use the internet to not only look at diagnostic software but also see most parts of the machine with four onboard cameras that also have sound. Next comes telephone support which is invaluable because Stuga have a technician always available to talk to customers. If all else fails Stuga can send one of six experienced technicians to arrive on site very quickly. With all parts resourced in the UK and most key components in stock at the Norfolk service center component failure is also quickly and easily taken care of.
Stuga machinery has been produced in Gt Yarmouth, Norfolk, since 1984 and many staff have been with the company for a lot of years which is important as continuity is a key factor when purchasing machinery. The same goes for the field technical back-up where the same team has been together for the last six years. Customers feel more comfortable when the same technician returns to look after their equipment regularly and a good relationship can be built up. It also means that these technicians, working only on Stuga machines, build up an in-depth technical knowledge leading to faster and more reliable fault finding.
Stuga build a range of sawing and machining centers for fabricators of all size from the AutoFlow for the small fabricator to the ZX3 for the general fabricator and the ZX4 for those requiring high output. Additionally the company builds high output sawing Centers, CNC routers and stand-alone prepping centers. With the current market place being somewhat hard for fabricators those wanting pre-used machines can also rely on Stuga as the manufacturer to offer high quality rebuilds of all Stuga models at excellent prices and whilst Stuga machines are sometimes offered on the second hand market nothing can beat the peace of mind of a factory rebuild that comes with a full 12 months parts and labour warranty.
Stuga machines are so sought after that even dealers like Haffner GB are often to be seen advertising them which is a nice compliment. This can be currently witnessed on the Winmart web site and in national advertising with well-known magazines. Although it is good that even dealers find Stuga machines attractive there can be no substitute for purchasing direct from the manufacturer together with the total care back-up and peace of mind that comes with it. Stuga rebuilt machines also feature the latest software and electronics which are not available to non-Stuga dealers claiming to have refurbished Stuga machines.
The ZX4 has now been successfully installed at Keyframe and is allowing production to be expanded including the uptake of a second profile system. The customer has also now experienced the first class service Stuga brings to all machining center installations.
Window Scene purchase Stuga ZX3
Glasgow based Veka fabricator Window Scene has recently purchased a Stuga ZX3 sawing & machining centre. The company is expanding and needs to keep manufacturing costs under control so recognised the sawing and machining areas as being the way to cut costs the quickest. It was also clear that less dependence on operators would enable the company to be more flexible with staffing needs.
Window Scene chose Stuga for several reasons including the fact that it was British engineering, spare parts and service were readily available in the UK and the track record of fifteen other Stuga sawing & machining centres in Scotland. After much research Managing Director Drew Bennett felt that purchasing a machine built in another country and supported by a dealer couldnít possibly match dealing directly with the manufacturer and one with a reputation for first class back-up. Stuga have engineers geographically based throughout the UK as they take speed of response extremely seriously with regards to their machines being at the front end of production and downtime should be minimal.
The Stuga ZX3 is capable of producing between 600 and 700 windows per week without overtime and knowing that Stuga would guarantee the output was a significant factor in the decision process. The way the ZX3 processes the pieces utilising a lateral transfer table that doubles as a buffer station almost eliminating time delays created by sawing and machining timing conflicts, whereas Inline buffers cannot achieve this so efficiently. The extremely fast saw cycle time is so much more efficient than machines with two sawing blades that have to de-clamp, shuffle and re-clamp the profile between cuts.
As with all Stuga sawing & machining centres the ZX3 comes with online diagnostics and on-board cameras for speedy fault finding. Several technicians are capable of interrogating the machines over the internet and all are of course UK based. Stuga machines come with Microsoft Windows operating system (English version) and random offcut loading with instant re-optimisation as standard.
Polyframe choose Stuga ZX3 to work alongside original ZX4
Polyframe Norwich has recently purchased a Stuga ZX3 sawing & machining center to work alongside their current Stuga ZX4 center.
The ZX4 can produce 800 to 1,000 windows per week and with the extra capacity of 600 to 700 windows per week from the ZX3 Polyframe Norwich are now equipped to cut and prep between 1,400 and 1,700 windows per forty hour week depending on styles and operations. Since acquiring the production facility in Norwich during 2010 Polyframe have already revitalized the production equipment and staff and are now forging ahead with higher volumes.
Both the new ZX3 and the original ZX4 can produce all window and door preps required for producing any style of window and door in the United Kingdom including internally glazed casements, tilt and turns, pivots, bi-folds, inline sliders and French and resi doors. No special tooling is required due to the versatility of the Stuga rotary tooling system and whilst some competitors may claim to be able to offer up to 13 tools on their centers the Stuga system is very much more versatile than these fixed head systems with the equivalent of twenty to thirty heads as standard.
One of the reasons Polyframe chose Stuga as their partner for sawing & machining in Norwich is the fact that Stuga have such good back-up with extremely fast call-out times in case of problems. This coupled with the fact that the company is based in the UK and has in-depth and in-house software capabilities dovetailed well with Polyframe’s ethic.
The ZX3 was installed quickly and easily at the Polyframe factory during December and was in maximum production in less than two weeks. Training was also easy as all Stuga machines now use the same software package and Polyframe had the foresight to have the original ZX4 upgraded to the very latest Stuga software based on the Microsoft Windows operating system meaning that both machines now have identical software and controls.
With the Stuga factory only thirty miles away from Polyframe Norwich the customer is always going to have first class service but with a team of six engineers operating throughout the UK all Stuga customers can expect first class back-up.
Nationwide purchase two Stuga sawing & machining centres
Nationwide Windows of Rugby have purchased two Stuga ZX3 sawing & machining centres. Both machines are rebuilds from old Stuga Flowlines that were around ten years old but that have been rebuilt to a very high standard and to the very latest ZX3 specification.
After deciding to purchase new sawing & machining centres Nationwide were fortunate to learn that Stuga were able to offer ”as-new” factory rebuilds for a worthwhile discount. These machines represent excellent value for money because they are fully rebuilt in the factory where they were originally made and come with a full twelve months parts and labour warranty.
Stuga strip all rebuilt machines to the basic chassis and start again. The machine is cleaned and painted where necessary before being rebuilt to the latest specification complete with new PC, control system and the latest Microsoft Windows software.
Each ZX3 has a capacity of between 600 and 700 casement windows per week and produces all saw cuts and prepping operations required to produce uPVC windows and doors in all styles including drainage, espags, trickle vents, ”V” and ”Y” notches and all door preps including locks, flags and letterboxes. Remakes are a doddle and the Microsoft Windows software is not only very operator friendly but it also has informative management analysis information regarding output and efficiency.
Warwick Developments take delivery of new Stuga AutoFlow-2 sawing & machining center.
Warwick Developments of Ecclesfield near Sheffield have recently taken delivery of the very latest Stuga AutoFlow-2 sawing & machining center. The machine is designed to be able to produce the totally diverse range of windows and doors that Warwick manufacture for their customer base and can do this easily due to its leading edge technology that incorporates a very highly proven rotary tooling system giving the ultimate in flexibility. The tooling is driven by sophisticated software that remembers every profile, each window piece and each piece of hardware allowing the customer to produce everything needed fully automatically without the operator having to think too much.
The Stuga software is driven by Windows XP and gives detailed and graphic information to the operator. The software is also designed to make alterations to settings and operations easy as well as provide detailed management information regarding output and efficiency. The software also measures profiles for length and controls offcuts meaning that the dreaded pile of partly used profile lying around the factory is almost eliminated.
The back-up from Stuga is another big reason for choosing this British engineering company who actually invest in factory trained technicians based throughout the UK to ensure customers are always in the comfort zone when things go wrong. The Stuga service center in Norfolk is also set up to be able to give top class support in the event of nay machine issue. Each Stuga machine has a number of top quality cameras built in at strategic positions in order for technicians to be able to watch the machine over the internet and actually witness problems first hand. Intermittent faults are picked up by the cameras being set to record what happens and the recording is then played back multiple times by the technicians to work out what is happening. The cameras have microphones so sounds are also analyzed to enhance the fault finding experience. Spare parts come from the UK so need to wait in anticipation for an overnight delivery from the continent.
At Warwick Developments Ltd they pride themselves on quality and service, and then put this together, to produce a distinctive and affordable PVCu product.
They specialise in dealing with the building trade, DIY and Retail sector supplying windows of all shapes and sizes, which are priced to any bespoke measurements. They can also manufacture doors, Patio doors, French doors, Conservatories, Porches, and Bi-Folding doors, using the Eurocell 70mm “Ultimate” System. The company is a well known, established, family run business, and has been manufacturing windows and other PVCu products, and Double Glazed Sealed Units, continuously, for over 25 years.
Warwick Developments and Stuga are pleased to work together in partnership to create a better future for their staff and customers.