How does the supply chain for the windows and door industry work?
Why can it take so long to get my order?
We get asked these questions so frequently we thought it worth trying to explain. Of course, every individual case is different, but here’s the story.
First, no single door or window is ever really the same as another. No two buildings are exactly like one another and, although there are standards, there are very few cases where you can safely buy off the shelf unless you are building something from scratch. The result is that when you need to replace your front door or back window you will nearly always find that it is pretty much unique.
Specialist Measurements for Specialist Fabricators
That means that your fitter will need to measure the dimensions with great care and, once you have chosen the profile and colours you want, will need to get the product manufactured for you. Very few fitting companies can do both parts of the work. Over the years it has proved more efficient to have smaller businesses that specialise only in one part of the chain. It just doesn’t work well when a single business tries to do it all. In our view, quality suffers.
Fabricators are specialists. They put together your product with care and attention, matching it to the exact specification sent them by your fitter. Nearly all of them are based in the UK; it simply is not efficient to get fabrication done overseas because finished units are bulky and badly suited to movement in shipping containers.
Supplying the Fabricator
To do their job the fabricators need to buy in materials; lots of them. They need a huge variety of stuff: aluminium and uPVC extrusions, glues, glass, colouring, handles, locks, even the inert gases that go between window panes.
Nearly all of these items are also bought from other specialist manufacturers and many of these are based outside the United Kingdom. Aluminium materials are shaped by engineering specialists who design and produce the profiles which the fabricators then to cut to size and use to build your unit.
Some of these engineers may do the specialist colouring that you request in-house but many of them will go to yet another specialist to do that work as well.
The system of glass supply is equally complex. Major manufacturers roll and produce glass sheet. Specialist cutters buy the sheet and prepare it in the right sizes for the fabricator.
Lock manufacturers, hinge producers, handle shapers…. Each has their own complex of supply lines to manage and maintain.
Even further up the supply chain, the raw materials like aluminium are sourced from all over the world. Ships and containers carry the supplies for thousands of miles that will one day adorn your walls!
You – the end of the Line!
For you as the end buyer, the result is that you are sitting at the end of an almost miraculous chain of activity; a web of complexity which, in normal times, works brilliantly for 95% of the time.
Which is, of course, no compensation at all when it is your order that is delayed.
2020 – Year of Madness
As everyone knows, the UK’s supply chain of 2020 is creaking. It’s scarcely surprising really given the pandemic and the worldwide lockdowns we have seen. Sadly, with BREXIT looming, things are going to stay tricky for some time into 2021.
2021 – Better?
The good news is that things are still moving and the miracle keeps working. Orders are made, supplies are produced and your new purchases will eventually adorn your home.
It’s almost a pity no-one really gives a second thought to the amazing journey they’ve been on to reach you.
If you want to know more about delivery dates please don’t hesitate to contact us on