30 Years Ahead Of The Curve

Recently Published in Glass Times

Arched and round frames are an anomaly for the average fabricator and are always subcontracted out to specialist profile bending companies such as Force 8, and company prides itself on the quality of their bending process. With 30 years of experience, there is little they cannot cope with when it comes to profile bending.

The difference with the Force 8 system is that it’s fabricated from a single length of profile on full arched frames, so there are no breaks or welds. The seamless bend was developed by Force 8, and it was seen by many as the best quality system. The normal practice is to produce the bends in sections using a hot air system, and then weld them together but, according to Force 8, this creates weak spots throughout the profile. Force 8 use a hot oil system where the full length of profile can be heated evenly, before being shaped on formers. This is a substantial investment in equipment as the system and formers used are significantly more expensive and require their own factory unit. Force 8 also use the hot air system when shorter lengths of profile are used, such as small round windows.

Having a single length not only makes it aesthetically better, with no welds or breaks it makes it structurally stronger. This really matters when you are bending foiled or woodgrain effect profile, as the last thing you want to see on woodgrain effect arched sash window is an ugly welded joint, as they cannot be disguised. This is extremely important when the project is a refurbishment of a period property, and you are replacing original timber sash frames.

The whole process has moved on over the 30 years, everything is now streamlined and computerised, this allows Force 8 to take on complex special shape frames. The company made a significant investment in technology which has facilitated Force 8’s ability to supply arched frames, nationwide, within 48 hours. Previously, the seamless bending process was very time consuming, requiring hardboard or MDF jigs as the template for the curve, although the company still gets the odd hardboard template. With the new machines and software Force 8 have a system so accurate that the linear profile can be cut at the same time as the bending process is taking place, eliminating the need to check fitting, and effectively halving the production time. With no need for a template, all they need from the client is the technical details in an email.

As an example, the company had a direct request from a customer who had three companies rejected his project, two said it could not be done on viewing it, and one gave up at the survey stage. In reality there is no such thing as a standard special shape frame, and the Toadstool frame design is the perfect demonstration of this. Although this took a little longer than normal, Force 8 looked at it as a challenge and succeeded where others failed to even attempt it.

A major innovation within the company is the recent EOT, (employee-owned trust) Force 8 has always been a family business and is extremely successful under the guidance of Dennis Sumner the managing director. After receiving many attractive offers to buy the company Dennis decided that the EOT was the best way forward for Force 8. “Some of our staff from shopfloor to office have been with us for over 20 years”, comments Dennis. “I wanted to make sure that the future of the company was secure, and most of all that the staff felt secure. Buy-outs and take-overs, although very generous did not offer the security I was looking for, I wanted to make sure that the workforce was looked after, as they are the main asset for the company,” said Dennis. “Their craftsman’s, skills and knowledge of profile bending is invaluable and as mentioned has been gained over 20 years and longer”.

An Employee-Owned company is one where over 51% of the shares are held in a trust for the benefit of all employees The trust which oversees the management of the company includes shop floor representatives and one non-working independent person.

Installation companies are missing out on a small but lucrative area of the market, for the simple reason it looks too difficult, or their present fabricator does not have the resources to manufacture these unusual frames. If your present fabricator is not equipped for arched or special shapes, Force 8 would welcome any design challenges from installers, not forgetting that they can also supply arched, or part arched composite doors to complete the project. For more information, please visit www.force8.uk

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