How is the uPVC window and door frame market progressing in 2017? At Stuga we talked to our market place and some well-connected people leading us to the conclusion that the uPVC window industry is very likely around 10 to 15 percent down in money terms and 15 to 20 percent down in volume terms. A significant slowdown but not a disaster and following a very good year in 2016 it isn’t perhaps as bad as it seems. Indications are that it may now be improving in many sectors.
When investment is considered one thought is to hold off buying equipment due to uncertainties but the other side of the coin suggests that we are possibly into the survival of the fittest, meaning investing is vital for some that haven’t done enough or haven’t kept up with the times. It is a strange situation when it can be seen that there is too much capacity in fabrication and yet more seems to be created by further purchases. In fact quite a lot of investment that is happening or needed is to replace obsolescent or worn out equipment which is slowly but surely dragging efficiency down for some fabricators.
Stuga specialises in automated uPVC sawing & machining centers which by their nature are expensive. The uPVC industry really started getting heavily into this level of automation nearly twenty years ago when a massive decision for many companies was justified with the saving in operators, profile wastage, scrap and general efficiency improvements these machines create throughout the entire factory. This process was completed and the machines paid for themselves long ago but many companies overlooked in the following years that they would wear out and also probably be overtaken by ever improving technology. A difficulty comes in creating the justification second time round and many that haven’t thought the process through early enough are now struggling to get their heads round replacing this kit. Those that don’t, can’t, or won’t invest are getting caught in the nut cracker of their competitors getting more efficient and having to reduce margins to a point where they cannot afford to invest their way out of their inefficiencies.
Stuga sawing & machining centers were originally expected to have a life in the span of 10 to 15 years, but many are now much older. This negates the claims by some German machinery builders that the Stuga machines wouldn’t stand the test of time, whereas many of their machines haven’t but the Stugas have. That being said Stuga are now nursing some old machines along for owners who, for whatever reason, haven’t changed them. These fabricators are not only missing out on the benefits of newer more accurate models with leading edge technology but there are inevitably more breakdowns on machines that are heading towards twenty years old.
It has been particularly noticeable in the last two to three years that successful Stuga fabricators are choosing top of the range machines where they have the volumes to justify them. The biggest selling machine has been the ZX4 which over the period happened to be the most expensive with high volume and the latest technology. Now, with the ZX5 being launched at the 2017 Fit Show this is already quickly becoming the number one seller and looks like it will give the ever popular ZX4 a run for its money. The fabricators purchasing these new machines have clearly had the vison to reinvest and been planning considerable capital investment on an ongoing basis which is why they are at the top of their game.
A significant issue for Stuga is to constantly update their customer base regarding the latest technology so that when a fabricator is ready to replace their old Stuga they are aware that the company has been constantly improving their machines with the latest leading edge technology so the fabricator isn’t comparing old Stuga technology with a competitors latest technology and this is a constant task for Stuga staff and technicians.
The Stuga ZX5 sawing & machining center has the latest Beckhoff controls and is bristling with features like ‘Y-Drive’ for perfect ‘Y’ notch preparation every time, ‘tru-loc’ gripper system to eliminate gripper slip and deal with all the latest multi chamber profiles, profile width measuring, tool breakage detection and extremely useful management information built into the software. These are on top of all the superb features already installed on the ZX4 and naturally included in the ZX5.