As demand for colour choice explodes in the UK replacement PVCu window market, the traditional model of offering only a limited range of standard colours is no longer meeting the developing tastes of many customers.
With purchase decisions for replacement windows increasingly motivated by house renovation and re-styling, customers are seeking design details and colour options that go beyond standard products. Those fabricators that are able to fulfil these requirements without lead-time or cost penalties are leaving those stuck with a standard only offer behind.
Offering an extensive range of special foil colours is one solution offered by those limited to the foiling process, but this approach typically comes with penalties of extended lead-times, significant price premiums and unused stock. It also falls short in meeting the customer request for a true colour & finish of choice. There is equally no warehouse large enough to stock all of the colours that are now in demand nor can the model respond quickly enough to the ever changing customer colour preferences.
The industry is therefore turning to in-house paint refinishing as a solution that has significant merits compared to working from foiled profile stock. Paint refinishing can be applied to profile lengths or assembled windows and each case, allows the fabricator to offer unlimited colour choice as a standard option. By using the latest generation, high-performance paint finishes, fabricators are increasingly taking direct control of fulfilling the customer order with their own in-house processes within a standard lead-time and at predetermined costs.
The addition of a refinishing process substantially improves the sustainability of the fabricators operating model in many ways. Not only does it create the in-house capability to respond to all customer requirements with a make-to-order model, but the resulting reductions in lead-times and inventory levels also significantly reduce working capital levels and hence improve cash-flows. In summary, taking ownership of the surface refinishing process in-house will improve customer responsiveness while increasing the capital efficiency of the business.
By adopting the painting refinishing process in-house, substantial opportunities to add product value to the basic product offer are also created. The latest generation, high-performance paint finishes can transform white PVCu into Timber Alternative or Contemporary Aluminium style windows that justify a premium price over standard products. The refinishing of complete windows creates an integrated finish over welds and at shut lines that foils cannot replicate. The use of traditional colour shades e.g. Farrow & Ball, can create premium Timber Alternative styles, while special metallic and ultra-matt finishes can be used to convincingly simulate premium priced Aluminium Alternative styles at competitive prices.
Latest generation paint refinishes now offer levels of protection and performance that at least match those of foils. 10-year warranties for adhesion, performance and colour stability are standard. By using contemporary low-VOC water-based paint systems, the sustainability credentials of the process are also assured. The unique ProKolor ZP 2400 series, also comes with the protective Anti-Heat® technology, that restricts heat build-up in dark coloured profiles to a maximum of +6 degs. above standard white. This protection will significantly reduce any issues of distortion and expansion that can frequently occur in the very popular grey and black shades, which when untreated, can experience temperature increases of +20 – 30 degs. due to direct sunlight when compared to white profile.
The demanding operating environment that the UK PVCu fenestration industry now finds itself in will challenge the survival of many participants. The pressures to adapt to meet the evolving demands of their customers will continue and it surely those that evolve with flexible and responsive operating models and a strong commitment to sustainability that will flourish. A sustainable, make-to-order colour model is available and will surely be a standard component of the evolving supply chain of the industry.
ProKolor® is a specialty coatings company supplying market-leading, water-based coatings and related paint services and expertise to support PVCu window and door fabricators grow by offering their products in an unlimited choice of colours. We work directly with our customers to support them to adopt a true ‘colour on-demand’ operating model that will differentiate them from their competitors and add real value to their businesses; with top line growth, reduced inventory levels and improved profitability. www.ProKolor.co.uk