Customer experience - Focusing on →
Customer experience - Focusing on →
M AY 2 1 8 I S SU E 6 Focusing on the customer experience R + T A s i a R e p o r t | M a n u f a c t u r i n g + Q A | B l i n d M a c h i n e r y ISSUE 60 MAY 2018 W FA
PA G E 0 1 Hunter Douglas HUNTER DOUGLAS: INNOVATION, SIMPLIFICATION + THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE A renowned market leader and pioneer in the window covering industry, Hunter Douglas look to the future, transforming operations to reshape the way it does business with its customers. 24 PRODUCT NEWS A run-down of the latest Window Furnishings product news 14 MANUFACTURING: TOOLS OF THE (QA) TRADE The word ‘quality’ continues to gain currency in an ever more competitive market. So what are the most effective tools in fostering quality assurance?
28 EXTERNAL SUNSCREENS UPDATE With demand for external sunscreen fabrics maintaining its characteristic highs, the market is responding with innovative systems and unassailable fabric constructions. 58 R+T ASIA BEATS EXPECTATIONS IN STUTTGART YEAR R+T Asia 2018, held 20 to 22 March in Shanghai, set a new record for visitor numbers with an increase of 10 percent over the 2017 show, exceeding 34,000 visitors and 500 exhibitors. 66 HONEYCOMBS A HIVE OF INNOVATION Great insulation properties are a given in the honeycomb and pleated window coverings category; but enhanced trend awareness, improved functionality and new fabrications are keeping the keeping the market vibrant.
50 BLIND MACHINERY: R+T STUTTGART AND BEYOND Three leading blind machinery specialists report back on developments at R+T Stuttgart and add in a few surprises of their own. 34 RETAIL PROFILE: CHADWICK DESIGNS Canberra supplier and installer of internal and external window furnishings for the residential and small scale commercial sectors, Chadwick Designs has flourished rapidly since its early days as home based business. 42 ISSUE 60 | MAY 2018
W FA | PA G E 0 2 W E L C O M E Printed by Southern Colour. The printer and paper used to produce this publication have Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) and ISO 14001 environmental certification. FSC® is a Chain of Custody (COC) process. This publication is printed using vegetable based soy inks. Window Furnishings Australia is a publication of Boston Publishing Pty Ltd editor & publisher James Boston associate editor Belinda Smart advertising manager Liana Treadwell art director Rizla Herdaru print Southern Colour advertising +61-3-8060 1002 editorial submissions firstname.lastname@example.org front cover image Hunter Douglas head office Unit 2, 83-87 Dover Street, Cremorne, Victoria, 3121, Australia telephone +61-3-8060 1002 fax +61-3-8692 2780 twitter @WFAus wfasource.com.au Editor & Publisher JAMESBOSTON Quality and innovation. They are two words that are often overused in business vernacular, particularly the latter which has had the life squeezed out of it by politicians. However, when we talk about quality and innovation in this industry, what we are really talking about is process and product improvement. Improvement in the quality of the product, the functionality, whether it is the functionality for the end user or the installer, or improvement in its manufacture; that is, the speed of manufacture, the fault rates, wastage and labour. This issue (Page 28) we have spoken to wholesale suppliers and fabricators about some the improvements they have been working on over the past 12 months in their quality processes. The results are impressive. For an industry that is much maligned as “cottage” and mature, with little room left for fresh ideas, there are a lot of smart operators in this industry who are not sitting on their hands. With wages our biggest impediment to competition with imported product, gains need to be made in productivity for Australian manufacturers to compete long into the future.
And the future may have already arrived if the latest instalment of R+T Asia is any indication. The show, which was expected to have a quiet year due to the Stuttgart show in February, was very busy and the change in the product mix from previous editions was noticeable. For many long-term visitors, the running joke was that the show should be referred to as the Zebra Blind show, such was the prominence of the Shangri-La product. However, the dominance of Zebras and other interior products is fading and the arrival of external systems marks a serious change in the Chinese market. Even as recently as the 2017 edition of the show, I had a conversation with a wholesale awning fabricator who thought their trip to China had been wasted due to the quality of product on show. Well they will want to be back next year based on the improvement in range and quality on show in 2018. For local external fabricators and importers of European systems, the future has arrived on our doorstep.
W FA | PA G E 1 4 N E W S A1 TURNS 60 IN A1 STYLE Melbourne retail manufacturer A1 Blinds has celebrated six decades in business with a standout birthday bash in Melbourne. The company, which in fact turned 60 on 14 February, officially celebrated the occasion on Saturday 7 April at Doyles, Bridge Hotel, Mordialloc, Melbourne. General Manager Luke Cosgrove confirmed the landmark festivities were attended by A1’s friends and past and present staff and suppliers, totalling almost 200 guests. Industry attendees included: Colin and Ron Creek - former owners of Woodsun Products; Charles Spiteri - Shaw Fabrics; Joe and Marianne De Petro - Defab; Mark Cuddy and Paul Jansen - Texstyle Fabrics; Aaron Smith and Tony Mazurek - Challenger United; Demi Liberti - The Window Outfitters; and Ben Moloney and Kevin Dahlberg - Hardback Industries.
“A1 Blinds was established in 1958 by Peter Bott Snr. In 1985 his sons Peter and John took ownership and ran the business as both wholesale and retail. In 1992 John moved interstate, leaving Peter as the sole owner. The business soon changed to retail only and grew considerably under Peter’s leadership to become one of, if not the largest, retail manufacturer of Sunblinds in Victoria.” “Still manufacturing in Clayton, Victoria, we have now introduced the next generation into the business. Bryce and Scott, Peter’s sons-in-law, will continue the company’s tradition as a family owned and run business.” A1 Blinds’ 60th Birthday celebrations included recognition of service for current employees: Patrick Walsh - 33 years, Luke Cosgrove - 31 years, Claude Deluca - 22 years, Sandra Sharp - 17 years, Nadine Drago - 13 years, Alan Porter - 12 years, Son Nguyen - 11 years and Nora Minda - 10 years. Recognition was also given to Max McNaughton, who has now passed away, who served the business for 31 years.
Meanwhile staff who had moved on or retired included Peter Braham - 28 years, Peter Ziino - 23 years, Angie Gottschalk - 22 years, Michael D’Agruma – 15 years, Jan Brown - 23 years; Lennie Guanlao - 16 years; Brooke McDonald - 10 years. “A1 Blinds would like to thank all of those who attended, as well as so many who could not, yet sent congratulatory messages.” Peter & Wendy Bot Peter Morecroft & Luke Cosgrove Paul & Mark from Texstyle Fabrics Andy and Shani from Doorite Screens, and Charles Charles Spiteri from Shaw.
W FA | PA G E 1 6 N E W S ALL CHANGE AT CASTLE TRIMMINGS Sydney trimmings powerhouse Castle Trimmings has re-located and re-vamped, with a raft of new product lines. The company has confirmed that “its relocation from the noise and chaos of Alexandria to the peaceful surrounds of Banksmeadow has now been completed.” “Imagine a modern, light filled and fully stocked showroom combined with exceptional product knowledge and consistently great quality curtain and upholstery trimmings; this is the new Castle Trimmings showroom and warehouse.” Director Martin Crawshaw confirmed the company has also recently released a range of magnetic tiebacks for use with sheers or curtains and designed in France.
“The recent growth in apartment living with wrap around glass walls and the abundance of modern houses with large feature windows has presented decorators, designers and fitters alike with the problem: ‘Where to insert the hook to fasten the tieback to hold back the sheer curtain or drapes?’ Enter the magnetic tieback. Castle Trimmings has recently released a full range of ultra-modern magnetic tiebacks and tieback hooks. No need for drilling to place a hook anymore. Very practical and easy to use, simply gather the desired material and attach the magnetic tieback to either side of the fabric. The result is a beautifully draped sheer or curtain. If a traditional tieback is sought, then a magnetic hook will fit the bill. Place the hooks either side of the curtain, click together and hang the tieback for your desired look. The outcome is a refined and elegant finish. There is even a range of fun magnetic tiebacks for children’s rooms.” A sleek new range of curtain accessories from Germany is now also on offer.
“Castle Trimmings now stock an excellent assortment of brass, chrome and powder coated curtain tieback hooks in a variety of styles and sizes, from Germany. Also available are premium curtain holdbacks and hold back arms, together with robust 1250mm tassel pull cords in silver, beige, grey and copper/black.” Castles Trimmings is now open for business at Unit 9, 17 Green Street Banksmeadow, Sydney and online at castletrimmings.com.
W FA | PA G E 1 8 N E W S MYT SHUTTERS’ QUALITY PROMISE Sydney based company specialist MYT Shutters is promoting its strong commitment to quality as a key point of difference within the shutters market. The company has been evolving its offering of high quality interior and exterior shutters for over 10 years and, according to a company statement, has kept the highest levels of quality front of mind over that time. “At MYT Shutters we offer precision as standard. Our shutters are custom built to suit your needs. We deliver you the best surface finish of any shutter on the market and the best value for money you can find. We achieve this by owning our own factory and employing our own staff, to have full control over the quality we deliver. We have the most extensive product range of any manufacturer in the world and we’re the only brand to make all the products in-house which warrants our high standards.” With materials used in MYT Shutters’ range including Western Red Cedar, Basswood, Paulownia, Polymer and Aluminium, the company also prides itself on user friendly shutters with smart designs. MYT Shutters are also designed to be easy to care for and to offer outstanding value for money. www.mytshutters.com
W FA | PA G E 2 0 N E W S BMAA AND R+T RESOLVE ISSUES A high-level meeting held between Directors of the Blind Manufacturers Association of Australia (BMAA) and Directors of Messe Stuttgart, the organiser of the R+T trade fairs globally, held in Stuttgart during the February show has mended a fractured relationship, according to Peter Meyer. Meyer, one of the BMAA directors who attended the meeting, said that he and three other directors had approached the meeting with some trepidation. “I am pleased to report that R+T’s purpose was to reconcile our somewhat fractured relationship.” Meyer said. “You will no doubt recall that R+T ran an exhibition in Melbourne in 2014 and managed to alienate the BMAA in the process.” “Well we received an unreserved apology and were assured this would not be repeated.” Meyer said positive developments also came out of the meeting.
“We were warmly offered any assistance for our members wishing to attend future R+Ts either as visitors or exhibitors and for our newer members or those who have never been to Stuttgart.” “As a result, the BMAA will be offering assistance via Messe in 2021 to make it just a little easier for you to make the trip and avoid the pitfalls.” Approximately 550 Australian visitors were recorded by the Messe at the 2018 show, a record. “The exhibition was of an incredibly high standard and some of the bigger stands like Hunter Douglas, Somfy, Coulisse and Weinor were just amazing and of course the Australian exhibitors like Acmeda Rollease, Aeronaut, Wilson Fabrics, Shann, Ziptrack and Blindware.” “I’ve been to about 10 R+Ts and I still enjoy it. Its inspiring. Its social. And it’s a major five-day education about our industry,” Meyer added.
The next edition of R+T will run from 23 Feb 2021.
W FA | PA G E 2 2 N E W S BMAA CALLS ON NCC FOR ‘SENSIBLE SOLUTION’ TO HIGH RISE ISSUES The Blind Manufacturers Association of Australia (BMAA) has made a submission proposing to change the National Construction Code (NCC) to fix a provision affecting awnings installed around Australia above ground floor level. The BMAA says its solution will greatly benefit consumers who live in high rise apartments who are subject to a number of changes brought about by the recent Grenfell fire disaster in London and the Lacrosse high-rise fire in Melbourne. Chris Nolan, a BMAA director, told attendees at the recent BMAA general meeting that the current provision means that if an awning, blind or shutter is proposed at levels above the first storey, then the alternate provision C 1.14 (a) must apply; i.e. the materials used must be “non-combustible”. “However, the definition of combustible refers to test method AS 1530.1, which is simply not applicable to the fabrics typically used in awnings and blinds, nor to the slats used in shutters,” Nolan said. “This is because the sample specimens required for the test are small cylinders 45 mm in diameter, and 50 mm in height. The test method specifies that “if the thickness of the material is less than the required height, the height shall be made up of layers of the material”.
“Typically, fabrics are less than one millimetre in thickness, and more than 50 layers would be required to construct a test specimen. Shutter slats are typically about 10 millimetres in thickness, but the profile can be an aerofoil style, which varies from edge to centre, making it impracticable to stack.” Nolan said apart from this obvious impracticality, the test results themselves would be compromised by the layers of air or adhesive used to bind the stack. “Stated simply, the test method is designed for building materials that have substantive mass, not fabrics or shutter slats that have very little.” “Clearly, there is a fundamental problem of achieving compliance with a code if the materials per se cannot be practicably tested in the manner currently specified.” Nolan told the meeting that the proposed amendment will allow the sensible provision for awnings, blinds and shutters to apply to all floors of residential buildings, and not just the ground floor.
“The AS 1530.3 (as opposed to AS 1530.1) results currently specified in Table 4 of Specification C 1.10 for compliance effectively mean that only fabrics and shutter components that have flame retardant properties can be utilised.” An alternative would be to change the definition of combustible to accommodate these types of materials, such as by as follows: “Combustible means:- Applied to a material (other than fabrics or thin planar slats used for shutters and the like) –combustible as determined by AS 1530.1; and Applied to construction or part of a building – constructed wholly or in part of combustible materials; or If a fabric or thin planar slats used for shutters and the like – having a Flammability greater than 15” “The Flammability is derived from AS 1530.2, which is a strip burn test, more suited to fabrics and thin planar forms.” “The Flammability index varies from zero (not easily ignited) to 100 (very easily ignited). The value of 15 is seen as relatively stringent and recommended because only Flame Retardant fabrics and shutter materials would comply.” “However, it is noted that the term “combustible” and “non- combustible” are widely used in the NCC document and confusion could be caused if the definition was changed,” Nolan added.
W FA | PA G E 2 4 COVER STORY Innovation through simplification to enhance the customer experience Renowned market leaders and pioneers in the window covering industry, Hunter Douglas look to the future, transforming operations to reshape the way they do business with their customers. Managing Director of Hunter Douglas Australia, Tony Politis, emphasises the transformation journey was not taken lightly, stating“Our priority was to understand our interaction through the customers’eyes and make the necessary changes to deliver value to customers consistently and in line with our values and purpose.”In Politis’view, it was fundamental to start with the customers’current experience, which in his words needed improvement, in order to make meaningful changes within the business. These changes have crossed all business functions from Hunter Douglas’Australiantextile manufacturing, central warehousing and national distribution to their marketing strategy and product offerings. The process was not without pain to customers and employees, with the Hunter Douglas team recognising the process was challenging to implement.“Our customers were impacted. There was a lot of hard work over many months but the carefully made changes are falling into place. We can look back on the process and see it was absolutely necessary and worthwhile for us to move forward”Polits concludes. In an increasingly fast-moving industry, innovation can bloom, as Politis states:“Since our establishment in 1953, there has always been a unique Hunter Douglas Australia way of working - a singular culture designed to deliver excellence” Politis continues“Our business has made significant investments and innovated our operations with the goal to provide our customers the best quality products, delivered efficiently with a simplified service experience.” In short Politis comments“a superior experience is a must for our customers.” Investing in service Always with an ethos to offer something different, Hunter Douglas has evolved their service offering, and framework to do so, over a number of years to reach what it is today. The monetary investment has been one of the most significant in recent history, having grown from two class- leading Kardex warehousing units to a total machine count of 15, including two customised Intertex TowerMat units for the secure storage of Honeycomb long product cartons. Julie Sage, Managing Director for Kardex VCA, states“Hunter Douglas has been transformed to Kardex’s #1 Australian site with 2.1km of pick face, 1800m2 of shelving and usable storage volume of more than 500m3.”Sageaddsthatthese exceptional metrics“elevate Hunter Douglas to Kardex’s largest single storage system in Australia, beyond any of our other 450 customer sites built over more than 25 years.” How this investment translates to the customer is key. Gilbert Grech, National Distribution Manager for Hunter Douglas, remarks:“It is about all parts coming together to provide better efficiencies to the business that can allow us to be more productive, more efficient and with better accuracy and visibility.”Grech confirms that this is not just a warehouse matter, it has been a complete company buy-in with“everyone on board with the improved systems and our potential to better the way we do business.” Kardex Units
PA G E 2 5 In addition to the warehouse improvements, the Rydalmere site has increased delivery frequency and aims to continually improve service speeds. In Victoria alone delivery frequency for this year will increase a whopping 66%, followed closely with additional services for most other locations. “We’ve listened to what our customers need and are able to deliver better service on the back of numerous process and equipment improvements” concludes Grech. Cut to length Adapting to change In response to an increased demand for cut to length services, Hunter Douglas integrated a centralised and well-staffed team in late 2017.“A new set of processes were embedded to allow us to flex with demand,”comments Grech.“These changes have the potential for our capacity to double and will allow us to keep pace with seasonal spikes and urgent turn arounds.” Simultaneous to staffing and process improvements, developments were made across IT systems to set up specialist programming in the cut to length service. The IT improvement drives‘first time right’ and when partnered with Hunter Douglas’other changes strengthens the overall customer value proposition.
The Rydalmere site now services all customers nationally, with an increased forecast of more than 49% of this year’s delivery service frequency. More than 90% of fabrics across internal and sunscreen ranges available in Cut To Length.
W FA | PA G E 2 6 COVER STORY Innovating the offering As a well-established Australian textile manufacturer for over 30 continuous years, the expertise at Hunter Douglas is in abundance, however, the team is not content to be stagnant and actively pursues continued advancement to not only meet but exceed customer needs. Hunter Douglas Product Manager for Fabrics, Patricia Seoudi, explains“the textiles division is built on a wealth of experience, having developed and sourced innovative fabrics produced from best quality raw materials locally and worldwide, but each season we evolve and push our know-how to the next level to do better for our customers.” In an aggressive market with cut-price generic imports, the business recognises the critical role of creating more value for customers. In Seoudi’s view, Hunter Douglas are “clearly focused on window coverings for residential and commercial applications in Australia. We’re not distracted by other areas so when we develop a range it is for the needs of these users, listening to our customers and applying all we know to create the best offering.” Now, in 2018, the Window Coverings Components division proudly takes the Mermet brand to all components customers across the market, and in Seoudi’s words, they are“breathing new life into a rich brand history. As a team we are honoured to uphold the Mermet values for quality, innovation and cutting-edge performance whilst being true to our local focus.”Adding“generic off the shelf fabrics is not what we do – we develop it for our market. It is all designed, weaved and finished to our exact requirements. “Whether it is colour refreshments for timeless ranges or brand new ranges, we ensure development is continual so that product lifecycles are not stretched and our customers can offer the latest trends to consumers.” In addition to the above, the textiles team are continually reviewing processes to improve quality, striving for beyond standard compliance. Seoudi finishes by stating:“We do not rely on third parties. We have our own R&D team, including an in-house chemist, and do our own formulations in our on-site lab for the best possible quality product.” New machine for 3.0m width capacity 90% of internal fabrics are manufactured at the Rydalmere site.
PA G E 2 7 The future outlook for Hunter Douglas is positive. However, the business recognises its work is not done. Managing Director Tony Politis concludes that“as we continue to align the organisation with the customer experience we have to continue to deliver against tangible outcomes. Our success in 2018 will be driven by our strong focus on simplification and customer experience and that is what we are dedicated to – becoming a simpler, more sustainable and synergised window coverings components partner.” With all parts of the business committed to the transformation, Politis envisions“Hunter Douglas as the first choice partner for empowering our customers and tackling future market challenges.” Solutions Marketing The commitment to a quality customer experience is a focus at all levels of the business, right through to the marketing strategy and how Hunter Douglas supports its network of fabricators and their retailers. Vera Meharg, Window Covering Components Marketing Manager explains,“We’ve listened to our customers. With the pressure of balancing all facets of their business there has been an increasing need to assist with marketing and quality training.”Mehargcontinues,“It’s always been our priority to develop engaging and user- friendly training and marketing materials to support our customers, but we are taking this to the future with ELI.” Meharg adds that the marketing team has“invested heavily in a class-leading online platform to allow our customers to learn what’s relevant to them, at a pace that suits their business.”The ELI (Electronic Learning & Information) Hub offers a suite of specialised training videos and resources.“Used by some of the biggest brands in the world, the learning platform guarantees the best learning experience for our customers whether on site, on the road or on the tools as its mobile ready and live 24/7”notesMeharg. “We’re focused on helping our customers and their staff become empowered with the knowledge and confidence to sell, build, install and service our products and grow their business.” ELI forms the latest part of the training offering from Hunter Douglas, allowing for learning from anywhere at any time. This is in addition to the hands-on training facility at the Rydalmere site and the on-the-road trailer complete with key offerings, available for use at customer key events. In addition to boosting the product training offering, the decision has also been made to sustain the Turnils and Mermet brands for the components division as a clear way of structuring the marketing communications. Meharg states,“These brands are renowned for their commitment to quality, performance and innovation, which are values that are a core focus for Hunter Douglas so the synergies align well.” Iconic brands Turnils and Mermet form part of the window covering components offering.
W FA | PA G E 2 8 F E A T U R E S The word ‘quality’ continues to gain currency in an ever more competitive market. So what are the most effective tools in fostering quality assurance? Belinda Smart reports. BLINDWARE “The manufacturing process in any operation is complex; often thousands of data points and multiple sources of information coming together to create the required output,” says Blindware’s Grant Norton. “Manufacturing isn’t just about the production of blinds. The support tools that enable the process to be quicker, easier, and more painless can often be critical for success.” Norton, who has worked in the industry for 15 years, has dedicated significant time over the years to developing a suite of tools to make the often complex and challenging process of manufacturing window furnishings easier.
Blindware’s Blind Analyser is the Microsoft Excel-based, one stop shop to capture all the data points necessary to manufacture roller blinds of any size. Users simply input fabric MANUFACTURING: TOOLS OF THE (QA) TRADE data such as type/weight, width, drop, clutch type, tube size, spring type and bottom rail type and the tool will generate the inputs required to manufacture the blind. “Customers don’t need to spend time working out multiple calculations for production separately; this will give them all the inputs required.” The other tool that has proven invaluable to Blindware’s customers is the SunBoss Resource Centre. It’s a cloud-based library of product information for all SunBoss components- everything from product images, to schematic drawings and technical information- available to all customers 24/7.
“Blindware is simply about making the lives of our customers as easy as possible with quality products backed up by support tools that make sense,” says Norton. PINZ “Being a wholesale manufacturer, we understand that our performance in terms of product quality, service and delivery goes a really long way to protecting the brand of our customers,” says National Sales & Marketing Manager Kate Bessell. “We recognise that putting your brand in someone else’s hands is a big decision and something that we have to get right. With this thought front of mind all day, every day, we work hard to consistently improve systems and processes to give our customers confidence.
Quality is a companywide concept at Pinz and every staff member plays a key role in getting this right. We work hard on ensuring that every team member is customer focussed and committed to each step in the supply process. Empowering staff and developing an internal culture where our team thinks about the end customer experience that our products provide, rather than simply looking at a piece of fabric or an aluminium tube and not putting it into perspective, is really important.” Bessell confirms that during the second half of 2017 Pinz underwent a complete production system overhaul encompassing machine placement, production flow and production management technology. “Improved efficiencies, increased quality stop points, better production tracking and traceability are all fostering huge improvements from this new system.” She adds that Pinz owner and Managing Director, David Snoad Pinz - Shade Solutions Australia, Victoria. Pinz - Shade Solutions Australia, Victoria.
W FA | PA G E 3 0 F E A T U R E S is currently working with software designers on the implementation of an automated quality system for skin measuring and production and quality tolerances, “which will improve further on the industry leading technology that we already employ in this area.” “This proprietary software and associated technology will not only ensure the quality of the end product, it will also provide customers with reassurance in this critical production step.” Meanwhile customer feedback is essential to tracking quality KPIs and feeds into Pinz’s continuous improvement processes, Bessell says. “Providing direct feedback from customer experiences to production management is a key focus for Pinz Business Development Manager, Darren Evans. “Customers are confident that their experiences - both positive and challenging - are communicated to the production team and worked through from a senior management level to create action and system development plans. In this way we learn and improve systems and staff training whilst also showing customers that they are valued and respected.” NORFOLK BLINDS Norfolk Blinds Managing Director Paul Humber says the company has embraced lean manufacturing principles and methods to increase its efficiency and QA.
“We have recorded improvements in both output and quality of over 50% as a result of implementing ‘LEAN’.” “We work on the philosophy that the new order for any manufacturing business is ‘People > Quality > Velocity > Cost.’ If you have a happy, vibrant team, they will look after quality. The velocity increases due to cultural desire and the cost looks after itself.” “We have increased our team meetings and involved staff in decision making, along with implementing a massive increase in staff training and introducing our CI (Continuous Improvement) Board.” “The single biggest initiative to improve our business was to introduce the CI Board. This board becomes the basis of our team meetings and is a huge catalyst for change.” “We have a zero defect policy. If by human error we breach this policy the issue is tracked back to the department and how it happened is documented. We have a colour coded defect chart which is very visual and beside it a simple “Perfect Production Days” number; it looks a bit like a ‘lost time due to injury’ board. When 30 days is achieved the team is rewarded and when 60 days is achieved an evening restaurant dinner is arranged for the team.” The company has also introduced a dedicated help desk system which provides fast turnaround on enquiries and, says Humber, compels a response from the team. “This platform is a terrific help for all our customers and our team due to its responsive nature and trackable results.” Humber adds that training plays an important role in maintaining quality standards. “At Norfolk Blinds all our team have been through intensive LEAN training at the Simulated Work Environment (SWE). This three day course is essential for manufacturing businesses to get maximum benefit from their staff while providing a happy atmosphere away from the fever pitch activity of many manufacturing businesses.” ZIPTRAK “With Ziptrak specialising in the manufacture of unique and intelligent components for our outdoor and interior track-guided blind systems, the spring-balanced or motorised system comprises dozens of components, all of which are designed by our engineering team in Adelaide,” says Ziptrak Marketing & Communications’ Jason Battista. “When we design, manufacture and distribute Ziptrak components, the individual components as well as the system as a whole are considered from a quality perspective. We work hard to provide the highest quality products to the end consumer through our skilled network of fabricators and retailers. We foster a culture of quality control and constant improvement with all staff members in Ziptrak Pty Ltd and ensure that all our processes have quality at the forefront.” The company invests in constant product developments in order to improve the strength, performance and longevity of its systems, he adds. “We receive constant feedback from our network of authorised fabricators and retailers, as well as from the end-customer. Ziptrak has established processes around this feedback to ensure that if any quality or output improvements are required, they are taken care of by our manufacturing team or taken on board by the design team. This feedback may also result in further discussion the Ziptrak network of skilled fabricators and retailers to ensure that all we meet expectations.” “We release a few major enhancements and new parts each year, to maintain our leadership position in the category and meet the demands of our customers. In 2016 Ziptrak released components allowing a new maximum width of six metres, and revolutionised our Tony and Marc de Maaijer of Ziptrak. Norfolk Blinds - CI (Continuous Improvement) Board
W FA | PA G E 3 2 F E A T U R E S range of springs, adding a reducer and providing a smoother, quieter and more precise operation. In 2017 we improved the keyway tubes with a range of new features and added strength at no additional cost.” “In 2018, Ziptrak has already released a highly anticipated Bottom Weather Strip, and has other major developments on the horizon,” Battista confirms. “We’re in the process of building a multi-million dollar factory in a new manufacturing innovation district called Tonsley. After significant consultation with manufacturing experts, Ziptrak will have a next- generation manufacturing operation ready to meet the demands of our growing base of national and export customers. This will be a major advance in our capacity to quickly and efficiently design, develop and assemble products, along with enhancements in quality control, manufacturing, warehousing and distribution.” BLINDS BY BORONIA “Obviously the viability and long term sustainability of a large scale manufacturing operation depends upon many facets,” says Michael Shaw. “One of these is the highest quality standards. Over 30 years ago, the ethos of Blinds by Boronia was laid out in the three objectives of the company: quality, service and excellence. Each of these objectives is described, to this day, inside the cover of our pricing manual.” “Quality is described this way: ‘Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of high intentions, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skilful execution. It represents the wise choice of many alternatives.’” “So we change and evolve over the years and our quality only ever improves because it is the number one focus of the company and we have clarity on how we deliver it and improve on it.” “Our systems, our equipment and the skill set with which we drive these are always under review. We’re always asking the question: ‘Is this world’s best practice?’” “Our philosophy is to strive for the best, empower our well trained staff, keep very good stock of premium components and constantly monitor technological improvements.” “For example, we have taken ESR Blinds under our wing. It’s now a part of the Blinds by Boronia Group, along with Skins ‘n’ More. ESR Blinds is a dedicated venetian blind manufacturer, custom crafting cedar since 1987 and steeped in history, experience and expertise in Australian made cedar venetian blinds. We are now upgrading several pieces of equipment to industry best standards. We’re encouraging the newly acquired ESR staff to reach much faster time frames. We’re also building supplier relationships to a better than ever standard, increasing stock levels and bringing our cedar venetian manufacturing times to best in country status.” “In terms of our service commitment, we’ve introduced a fast track blind service on roller blinds, with a promise to deliver our top six ranges within three days with a penalty guarantee.” “We closely listen to what our customers tell us and we encourage open discussion with customers that do and don’t purchase particular supply lines.” VIEWSCAPE Andrew Rundle, National Sales and Marketing Manager at Viewscape, says while the challenges faced by the company are similar to many local businesses, a commitment to continuous improvement and advanced manufacturing is a key advantage for the Viewscape business. “Viewscape’s primary values are Continuous Improvement, Progressive Thinking and Collaboration,” he notes. “This creates a strong mindset and culture within the business to drive our various business strategies and advanced manufacturing programs. Combined with in-house engineering, allows for product and equipment development, manufacturing optimisation and strong process management. The outcome is production consistency and repeatability across our 10 product categories, ensuring high quality products, reliable lead-times and an increase of our product warranties in 2017.
In light of the ever growing number of offshore competitor supply models, including fly-in programs and cut down offers, Viewscape has continued to maintain focus on output optimisation and high quality product. Lean manufacturing principles, in-house product and equipment design and significant staff training have all had a positive impact on the business’s output and quality goals. “From a product sense we have a heavy focus on product design, development and testing. We have stringent testing regimes to ensure product we supply into the national market performs to meet the demands of Australian conditions. We have very close supply relationships allowing this collaborative development to successfully bring product to market to meet the needs of Australian consumers.” “Having our administration and national sales team locally allows us to work closely with our customers to leverage market opportunities together. We work at a high strategic level with many of our retail partners to create more advantageous situations. Insights funnel into a designated New Product Development team generating working projects to evaluate and commercialise opportunities. Our focus on consistency, reliability, attention to detail overlaid with competitive, market relevant offers allows for these partnerships to successfully compete in the national market.
“2017/18 has been a strong year for Viewscape, where we have expanded our offer to the market across both internal and external product with more additions to come. We will continue to invest in local manufacture through 2018/19, ensuring our customers have access to market centric products, competitive lead times and sales tools to support consultant confidence and sales conversion at the window.” Ziptrak
W FA | PA G E 3 4 F E A T U R E S Three leading blind machinery specialists report back on developments at R+T Stuttgart and add in a few surprises of their own. WFA reports. ULTRACUT INDUSTRIES Garth Jacobs of Ultracut says as the awnings and externals category represents a large and growing sector, the company has identified a gap in the market, with machinery to produce such products being limited, particularly from Australian made, locally supported companies. “We have locally launched a large version of our Vectrocut Sono to cater for this market in a unique way. This is a revolutionary window blind cutting solution featuring a unique vacuum free clamping system (no pumps and no film), tag free stainless steel cutting surface (sonic or crush) and genuinely user-friendly operator console. Depending on roll changes and blind widths, production volumes of between 100 and 200 skins per shift are being achieved.” BLIND MACHINERY REPORT: R+T STUTTGART AND BEYOND Jacobs adds that while international demand for cutting tables has grown significantly as roller blinds become more commonplace throughout Europe, Australia has been leading this trend, demonstrated by the large number of machine manufacturers in Australia relative to population.
“As these markets have evolved in Europe, so have the machine manufacturing companies, to fill a requirement to supply locally made machines to their local customers. Ultracut has had much interest in the past two R+T Stuttgart shows where we exhibited, along with the Heimtextil show, which we plan to leverage to gain secure presence in Europe for our tried and tested machines. As exchange rates level, this re-opens up export opportunities for partnering companies to leverage off local supply through agents, to provide the local servicing and warranties required for these large investments. We at Ultracut have designed machines for the Australian market / budget and provided solid servicing proven over time, which will stand us in good stead as we bring our unique offerings to the European market.” “A lot of new manufacturers of machines have appeared in the market and have yet to prove their reliability, quality and back-up support. This is something to be considered when purchasing equipment. Can I get spare parts? What is the downtime likely to be if something breaks? Does the warranty cover on-site repairs? What is the real cost after taking these points into consideration? These are all things to consider when purchasing a machine, as sometimes the actual cost can be a lot higher than expected if the worst happens.” AERONAUT “Aeronaut has demonstrated rotary blade, crush cut and ultrasonic cutters at previous R+T Stuttgart editions so for this year, we decided to demonstrate cutting patterned and digitally printed textiles for window furnishings,” says the company’s John Clark. “There were more companies demonstrating digital printing onto textiles than ever before so this was a timely choice.” “Based on conversations with other distributors and printer manufacturers, digitally printed textiles are something you either get completely or not at all. The European market is still developing while the US market is very active. The applications are in most cases commercial and range from car dealership windows to restaurants and hotels.” “From the machinery and services point of view, there didn’t seem to be so much innovation on show this year as consolidation. With the range of textiles on offer, there seemed to be a concentration on ultrasonic cutting and certainly there were a lot of manufacturers offering different types of ultrasonic components, though again, nothing notably new or different.” Ultracut - Vectrocut Sono
W FA | PA G E 3 6 F E A T U R E S “The feedback we got from existing and potential customers was very much that Aeronaut’s vacuum hold down and flexible nesting was understood to be close to twice as fast and far less wasteful of expensive blind fabrics than clamp and tape hold down systems. There were some alarming reports on the cost and frequency of replacing glass table tops as offered by some machine makers.” Clark noted that there were a lot of large machines on show at R+T. “Demonstrating a huge machine is not something Aeronaut can really do because the freight and show costs are so extreme, but there’s no doubt that in many markets, table sizes are going up. Aeronaut is perhaps the only company that will build a machine as big as the customer requires and in North America, Aeronaut has sold a lot of machines around four metres wide and 12 metres long.” Clark noted that feedback on Aeronaut’s offering demonstrated the value offered by the company. “It has to be said that many European machine makers can charge eye- watering prices for equipment which doesn’t perform any better than an Aeronaut machine. As one potential buyer said: ‘During the show I asked for proformas at different stands and your price is very low compared to other companies.’” Clark adds: “Aeronaut has been making laser cutting systems for 12 years or more but this was the first R+T Stuttgart where we have talked a lot about laser cutters. We sold one laser to the USA for cutting blinds and discussed additional installations for other customers’ products, like hurricane screens - apparently a booming business - and fabric sampling.” RAYTECH “Visitors to R+T could not miss an abundance of choice in automated cutting tables,” says Raytech’s Chris Hart. “Most table designs adhered to similar methodology. Matic were showing their well proven MI Ultimate with belt hold down. For R+T this concept was copied by Asco. Both these tables are limited to straight cuts in X or Y direction and the belts have to sequentially move to a new position or completely out of the way as required before the next cut is performed. The other tables were largely older concepts using suction for the hold down of fabric so using a perforated deck and three phase blower. All sealed edge cutting involved hard deck surfaces like stainless steel or glass with typically ultrasonic or crush cut tooling preferred. Laser was an option on some but this technology is expensive and has serious OH&S issues. All the tool and deck combinations are expensive to purchase, to maintain and to replace. “ Hart said Raytech’s new V Series cutting table offers a clear point of difference. “Raytech started with a blank slate to design into the table some major advantages over all the competing tables. The V Series table has high productivity and offers a sharp or sealed edge quality as required. It will cut all fabrics and textiles for roller blinds, sunscreens, mesh and outdoor fabrics, canvas, vinyl, and curtains or upholstery. It arrives at this destination by a very different route.” “Why do the V table differences matter to the blind or awning maker? In a word – money, or more correctly, money saved. Fast CNC cutting combined with automated fabric pull out and hold down of fabric without plastic overlays or moving belts is faster and is achieved at way less cost. Curved sealed edge cutting, such as scallops on awnings, can also be achieved. However the biggest cost savings come via Raytech’s new deck and tooling combination that is so easy on ultrasonic tooling that sonotrode wear and replacement become rare rather than common.” Compared to suction tables using ultrasonics, Raytech estimates the monthly savings with the V table will cover the full lease price on the table, Hart says. “Add in reliability and a very low maintenance cost and it gets even more compelling.” “The V table can be configured flexibly and a change to tooling and deck combinations can be done in a few minutes. The table can switch between products or between internal and external products quickly and easily. This is facilitated because of the radical approach of the V design.” “Useful processing length of table is 6, 9 or 12m and being Australian made it is customisable. Software options include auto nesting and LAN connectivity is a standard feature which allows easy work flow from the production planning office.” Raytech’s V Table is being shown to prospective clients by personal appointment in May and June. Aeronaut Raytech V Series - The Cutting Table for XY and Curved Cutting
W FA | PA G E 3 8 F E A T U R E S With much of the emphasis on face fabrics in window furnishings, the temptation in recent years has been to see linings as a commodity product. However, as two linings specialists maintain, high quality and locally made linings are increasingly being seen as a worthwhile investment. CHARLES PARSONS INTERIORS The company’s wide range of lining textiles offers functional and versatile solutions for blocking out light and heat in summer, to keeping in the warmth in winter or adding depth and colour to sheers.
Coatings also help in an insulating function; the more ‘passes’ a lining has, the better it performs at blocking out light, ideal for preventing light entry in home entertainment areas and bedrooms, as well as stopping harmful UV rays from damaging interior furnishings and fabrics. Many lining fabrics also offer noise reducing qualities. Charles Parsons Interiors’ Kylie Davis confirms that the company QUALITY CURTAIN LININGS: LOOKING BEYOND FACE VALUE prides itself on its locally made linings, adding that in light of market feedback in recent years that imported linings can be compromised by quality issues, the company’s decision to base its manufacture locally has paid off.
“Charles Parsons Interiors does not have the same quality issues with lining as those that are imported. The bulk of our base clothes are constructed from polycotton as opposed to 100% polyester and the coating process is done in Australasia.” “Our company has not had the same experience [as others] with lack of longevity of linings. When a consumer is fitting out their home with window furnishings, this is a large investment and Charles Parsons Interiors understands the importance of this, which is why we have our quality guarantee.” Davis adds that Charles Parsons has a fully accredited lab onsite and also submits fabrics to extensive testing onsite at the manufacturer. Charles Parsons Interiors
W FA | PA G E 4 0 F E A T U R E S WILSON FABRICS Wilson Fabrics offers a large range of linings in varying constructions and blockout levels, in addition to offering FR treated linings. The company recognises the importance of quality lining fabrics. “Linings not only protect curtains from the sun, they also insulate the home by trapping the heat in during winter and blocking it out in summer. In addition they also assist in reducing street noise and outside noise.” “We use the same high quality blockout coating on our blockout drapery as we do on our linings, as it’s critical that this is of a good quality as that is what faces the elements and the harsh sunlight,” confirms Marketing Manager Jennifer Donnelly.
“We have not had any claims on our Australian Made drapery linings for coating breaking down, going yellow or leaving a white powder residue on the floor. We would be devastated if our linings did this. We have always prided ourselves on the quality and longevity of our coating and linings.” “Our Australian Made Linings are rated UPF 50+ which is the highest rating, providing ‘Excellent Protection’ from harmful ultraviolet radiation. These Australian Made Linings let through 0.000 UVA and UVB rays, making them outstanding at protecting against harmful UV radiation.” “Not only are our Australian Made linings full blockout, they are also washable and dry cleanable, making them extremely versatile, long lasting and durable.” Donnelly adds that a distinct advantage of coating in Australia is that the company has tight controls over the quality of the coating and the ingredients used to ensure a high quality and consistent finished product.
“There is no doubt that competition from imported linings has increased over the years. It’s become a commodity item where people assume it’s of a certain quality and don’t value the true quality until they experience problems.” “We know that our linings are not the lowest in price, but we pride ourselves on the quality fabric and coating we provide. We have found that customers come back to us after experiencing quality issues with cheaper imported linings, as these simply tend to not last the test of time and end up costing more in the long run with replacements and quality issues.” “The lining faces the elements and is essential at protecting the face fabric, which is a valuable and expensive investment for the consumer. So it’s worth the investment in good quality linings. We have found that the long term benefits and assured customer satisfaction outweigh the small price difference; you really do get what you pay for.” Wilson Fabrics
W FA | PA G E 4 2 F E A T U R E S Canberra supplier and installer of internal and external window furnishings for the residential and small scale commercial sectors, Chadwick Designs has flourished rapidly since its early days as home based business. Founded in July 2014 by Tim and Belle Chadwick, like many successful passion projects, Chadwick Designs was triggered by a life change. “We were looking to get away from Sydney with our growing family,” says Belle Chadwick. “We saw an opening in the Canberra high end window furnishings market, with RETAIL PROFILE: CHADWICK DESIGNS the huge benefit of being such a wonderful place to live and raise a family.” The company has evolved at a rapid rate since its early days working from the Chadwicks’ garage where it began nurturing valuable relationships with interior design and architect clients. “The growth we experienced every month was mind boggling. On March 2016 we signed the lease for a showroom and warehouse, employed our first full time employees and have continued to grow since; we now have six full time staff.” Belle attributes the company’s success to a consistent commitment to reliability and quality that has seen it grow organically, largely driven by word of mouth endorsements. “Since inception we have stood firm on our commitment to quality and not lowering the bar to get jobs across the line.” As well as such endorsements, investment in an impressive show room, which she describes as “175 square metres of heaven”, is the company’s most powerful marketing tool.
“We are so proud of our showroom. It’s the result of a whole lot of blood sweat and tears, but worth every bit of that. We were very aware that the most important design factor in a window furnishings showroom is avoiding the risk of overwhelming clients with too many options and examples. We have realistic settings showing different combinations of product and are continually reinvesting to update these.” “Throughout the showroom there are also inviting spaces where architects and designers can bring their clients and source and discuss options.” Chadwick Designs boasts an impressive fabric library of over 4000 hangers and has also sourced its own in house fabric range. The showroom is shared with sister company Cloth and Paper Studio, a fabric and wallpaper agency servicing trade Chadwick Designs - Showroom
W FA | PA G E 4 4 F E A T U R E S clients in Canberra, which houses another 2000 fabric hangers from ranges all over the world for clients to choose from. “We sell a lot of fabric and have many fabric houses we love using, but Boyac has been a stand out for us. They invest in our product knowledge and are always willing to go the extra mile with us. Their product is so unique and varied, we love using it.” In addition, the company offers a significant range of Markilux outdoor products and Verosol blinds. “Being able to offer the best products from around the world is a huge honour. We love being a part of these companies and being able to help our clients with such outstanding products and solutions.” “Being part of the Markilux family in the last 18 months has been a huge privilege. We believe that their product is one of the best in the world. The support from the Markilux team and other resellers across Australia is incredible.” Belle sums up the company’s key service offering in two words: “Quality and experience.” “Window furnishings are all we do at Chadwick Designs. Our clients know that the person who is advising on products has installed thousands of products himself. Our clients know that when they are picking fabrics, they are talking to someone with years of experience in the industry. We aim to empower designers and architects with the tools and confidence to specify our products from day one on a project. These relationships are vital to us and we love being part of the design community in Canberra.” “We are not bound to particular brands or agreements. This allows us to truly offer the best product for the job to our clients. We do not shy away from technically challenging projects. We relish problem solving and investing in our methods and scope of work.” “For Chadwick Designs, actions speak louder than words. We don’t advertise and have grown purely from word of mouth. The relationships we nurture with the local architects and designers are really important to us so we work hard at strengthening them.” “Usually our most satisfying projects are where we are involved from the start. The architect and designer recommend us, and we can work together with the client from the get go. We have had a few projects where we have been working together for over 18 months getting custom fabric milled, pushing the boundaries of external applications and testing new installation methods.” “The process is a massive undertaking, but having the client loving every room is a huge buzz.” Internally, the company’s key point of difference is the “work family” in which it continually invests, she adds. “Our staff are everything to us and we try to offer the best place to work possible. We invest in their training and growth and we involve them in company decisions and direction. They are our biggest asset.” Any challenges for the company going forward are nice challenges to have. “We cannot keep up with our growth,” says Belle. “We are constantly on the lookout for great fitters, showroom staff and admin. We have been cautious and calculating with our growth as we do not want to lose the standard of expertise and style we have built our reputation on.” “Our biggest challenge with our rapid growth has been putting in internal processes that ensure our customer care and results remain high. We pride ourselves on connecting with other like-minded businesses in the industry and sharing product knowledge, in house processes, and supporting one another.” Images courtesy of: Stefan Postles Chadwick Designs - Showroom Chadwick Designs - Garsia Chadwick Designs - Monaro
W FA | PA G E 4 6 F E A T U R E S New options offering child safety gains are helping drive the roman blinds market, while ready made kits also offer end users an accessible and user friendly way into the category. THE ROMAN EMPIRE Don Hailes, Managing Director, The Roman Empire, confirms child safe options are a critical factor in driving the roman category forward. “After successfully launching our Romasafe System into the U.S market in 2017, [sister company] SPP Industries has been busy developing the system to now utilise the award winning band lift child safe program into a more streamlined head rail solution. This has been ROMANS RISE AGAIN brought about by the increasing demand for a slim profile, chain operated system more suited to the hospitality and commercial arenas; the benefits of course being passed to the average consumer by having a standard projection chain lift system incorporating child safe bands.
“The Romasafe product ticks all the boxes where a standard roman blind is being considered. With the elimination of all back cords, the Romasafe system, even childcare centres could now consider the option of roman blinds. All home owners who love the look and feel of a roman blind can now have the added peace of mind of child safety. For manufacturers, Romatech with the new Romasafe system delivers a significant market advantage over all other competitor roman systems.” “Every market presents challenges on an array of different levels, but with roman blinds being targeted as the largest product recall in U.S. retail history (50 million units in 2009) it was obvious that for this product and associated industries to survive, major changes had to be made. This recall was obviously an incredible challenge for the market, but arising from this has come an amazing opportunity – with the introduction of Romasafe’s band guides and a stamp of approval from the American Blind Association ‘safe for kids program’ Romasafe has overcome all obstacles allowing Roman Blinds to once again become part of the product selection.” “In almost every instance, when America sneezes, Australia catches cold, and I think it’s true to say that roman blinds have been less favoured for some time, but with the introduction of a totally child safe product, this all changes. We believe the humble roman blind can now be re-branded as a ‘new product offering’ by emphasising the importance of child safety in the marketplace. By delivering peace of mind to both the customer and the blind maker, Romatech with Romasafe is expecting solid market gains in the years ahead, particularly in the USA where the product is effectively coming off a nil base. In Australia The Roman Empire
W FA | PA G E 4 8 F E A T U R E S the growth may be less dramatic but steady gains are expected. This is in part due to the product versatility being potentially a cross over product between hard and soft window treatments.” “After visiting the lastest IWCE show in Tampa Florida, it was refreshing to see the enthusiasm being expressed by the various fabricators in relation to the roman blind or roman shade as they refer to it. I spoke with many and they all see quite a positive future for the product and are treating it as ‘the new kid on the block’. This is very encouraging and could very well be attributed to the introduction of the new safety standards released in December 2017 giving a very clear indication of the dos and don’ts. Unfortunately, Canada is yet to jump on board in relation to setting practical standards but there is hope (for fabricators especially) that this will be achieved sooner rather than later.” ROLLEASE ACMEDA “Our popular SS38 roman shade solution, which boasts a contemporary, slimline profile is now available in readymade kits,” the company confirms. “The pre- fabricated kits consist of aluminum headrail with tilt rod, CTS spools, brackets, Planetary Chain control and end covers, along with a safety tag.” Features and benefits of the pre- fabricated kit include: • Reduced aluminium wastage • CTS Spools, tilt rod and chain control are all assembled onto the aluminium rail, reducing assembly time and ensures a quick blind production turn-around. • 90% pre-assembled, simply cut down and go.
• Kits ranging in size from as little as 0.9m up to 3.9m, increasing in 300mm intervals. The company has also launched its our Automate CL 0.8 Cord Lift Motor compatible with its SS38 Roman Shade solution. Features and benefits include: • Drives Roman Shades up to four metres in width and drop • The 0.8 motor option, featuring dual output shafts, allows cord spools to be evenly positioned on either end of the head rail, resulting in an ideal leveled lifting operation. • ARC (Automate Radio Communication) technology: - Effortless shade control - Patented protocol featuring bi-directional communication, which when used in conjunction with the free Automate App, allows users to control their roman blinds using their smart phone. - When used with Pulse HUB and App you can control your Roman Shade via your smart phone and manage rooms, up to 20 custom scenes and 20 timers.
- Compatible with IoT integration: integrates with latest smart home devices including Google Home and Alexa, using voice commands to deliver completely hands- free roman blind control. - Compatible with our Internal Sunlight Sensor, which automatically closes the shade once sunlight is detected to control sun glare, protect interior from UV damage and assist to keep the home cool. - Smooth and quiet operation - Child safe solution Rollease Acmeda
W FA | PA G E 5 0 F E A T U R E S Great insulation properties are a given in the honeycomb and pleated window coverings category; but enhanced trend awareness, improved functionality and new fabrications are keeping the keeping the market vibrant. Belinda Smart reports. BLINDS BY PETER MEYER “Blinds by Peter Meyer has recently released its state of the art German Simply Cell + Pleat collection offering a huge range of both single and double cell honeycomb blinds as well as an extensive slim profile 20mm pleat,” says Managing Director Simon Meyer. “German designed and manufactured, this system has lifted the bar when it comes to quality cellular and pleated blinds in Australia. We offer everything from Silver backed Screen to textured and blockout fabrics. The range is available in child safe hand operation, F-Touch cordless systems, cord operated, chain drive and even motorised solutions.” In terms of market demand, Meyer says the company’s product fills the gap for unusual window settings, “where customers have small recesses, shaped windows, skylights and back of doors,” but adds sales are not limited to these applications. “With honeycomb (Simply Cell) blinds being the best insulating style of blind on the market, we are also seeing great energy savings for customers who are upgrading to this style of product.” HONEYCOMBS A HIVE OF INNOVATION Blinds by Peter Meyer
W FA | PA G E 5 2 F E A T U R E S “We have seen the market steadily growing over the last few years, since we released the new collection and with the multitude of different styles of windows we can now cover, the versatility of the Simply Cell and Pleat range means windows that were always impossible to cover can now be covered with ease. The Simply Cell and Pleat collection has been designed with quality, design and style in mind.” “With pleated and cellular blinds using more fabric than your average roller blind and with the extra labour costs involved when cording up these unique blinds, they tend to be a more expensive solution. If and when we can educate the end consumer on the cost saving benefits of honeycomb blinds I am sure that we will continue to see growth in this product area. The WincovER (Window Coverings Energy Rating) scheme will certainly go a long way to help educate the end consumer in the benefits of adding energy efficient products to their windows and when this program starts, I’m sure we will see a strengthening in the honeycomb market.
AUSTRALIAN WINDOW FURNISHINGS Jenny Brown, National Marketing Manager, Australian Window Furnishings division of Hunter Douglas, confirms pleated and honeycomb fabrics continue to attract sales due to their unique qualities. “The right window coverings can help to keep a home well insulated, reducing the need for heating and cooling systems, in turn, increasing the energy efficiency of the home.” She notes that energy efficient window coverings such as Luxaflex Duette Shades have a unique honeycomb structure designed with functional and aesthetic elements in mind, making them a popular choice in the window fashion market. “Luxaflex Duette Shades are visually attractive, providing a contemporary Blinds by Peter Meyer
PA G E 5 3 striking look, whilst offering efficient insulation by trapping air within the honeycomb cell. Insulation is essential to maintaining room temperatures, and a few small changes can help your home be more energy efficient and keep bills down.” “Luxaflex Duette Architella Ménage Shades are a chic window covering with revolutionary fabric and provide more insulation than any other window covering on the market. The unique design features a patented triple honeycomb cell construction, with six layers of fabric creating five insulating air pockets to trap air for superior energy efficiency, helping you save up to 49 percent1 on your home heating costs.” “As well as preventing heat from escaping, insulating window coverings such as Luxaflex Duette Architella Ménage Shades can help regulate the warmer temperatures Luxaflex Duette Architella Shades, Top-Down/Bottom-Up. Luxaflex Duette Shades with PowerView Motorisation, Architella Elan. of the day. During the day, your windows let in more radiant energy than gets out. Close your window coverings immediately after dusk to provide an extra barrier to radiant heat loss, increase insulation and reduce draughts. Our award winning PowerView Motorisation uses clever technology so Aussies can now schedule their blinds to lower at the optimum time to minimise energy loss.” Brown adds that Luxaflex Window Fashions’ latest collections focus on refreshing popular fabric ranges and introducing new choices that have an element of design and sophistication. These ranges are Alexa and Leela. The Alexa fabric range is about experiencing the beauty of nature’s imperfections. Inspired by organic elements, it provides variations between its fibres giving each shade its own character in a living space. Leela strikes a balance between rustic character and modern lines, featuring
W FA | PA G E 5 4 F E A T U R E S rich natural hues. The versatile linen-texture is further enhanced with a sophisticated, subtle sheen. “Both of these fabric ranges feature our Luxaflex exclusive cell-within-a-cell construction, Architella. Our most popular Architella fabric range is Elan and we have added eight new colours to this collection to ensure it continues to evolve with colour trends.” “Along with our fabric range review, we have also launched our Signature Hardware program with the aim of providing a cordless and child safe operation. Signature features three lifting systems including the one of a kind Ultraglide. This lifting system underwent the most significant redesign replacing its ‘click and walk away’ cord operation with a ‘click and walk away’ wand operation.” “The remaining two systems, LiteRise and PowerView, were already cord-free, however the redesign focused on larger limitations and refining all the touch points of the shades to provide a seamless appearance from the top to bottom and side to side.” “These introductions are about providing a point of difference within our offer from an aesthetic perspective and also growing our exclusive Architella collection. From an aesthetic perspective, it is about closing the gaps within our own offer and providing the collection with more textured, tactile fabric ranges.” “In terms of the honeycomb market there is nothing like Architella or any product that comes close. The cell-within-a-cell construction provides next level energy efficiency and currently this is unique to the Luxaflex range. Insulation is key to maintaining room temperatures, and can Luxaflex Duette Shades Architella Ménage. Luxaflex Duette Shades Architella Ménage.
PA G E 5 5 Luxaflex Duette Shades with Standard Cordlock. help your home be more energy efficient and keep bills down. Installing the right window coverings can reduce heating costs by up to 49 percent2 . As we continue to look for new fabric introductions, our focus is on Architella.” “The other launch that sees us pioneering child safety is our Signature Hardware program. Our three lifting systems, Ultraglide, LiteRise and PowerView, are all cord-free in operation, providing the consumer with three unique lifting systems to suit their individual needs.” “The opportunities are endless for Luxaflex Duette Shades. We are seeing growing demand for our Architella fabrics as consumers seek energy efficient window coverings that will reduce their living expenses and the impact on the environment.” “Then there is home automation, not only for convenience, but also for improved living comfort. Our PowerView Hub, when teamed with Duette Architella Shades, provides the ultimate in home living comfort. In summer, you can team the Hub with either Amazon Alexa or Google Home to raise and lower your shades depending on the weather. If we are expecting an extremely hot afternoon, the Architella Shades will lower as soon as the temperature hits say 30 degrees, allowing for the room to have cooled down by the time the family gets home. This means that the air conditioning may not have to be turned on immediately or if it does, there’s no need for it to be on the highest setting.” Alternatively, if a consumer would rather take direct control, PowerView Remote Connect gives 1 and 2 Savings are based on the installation of fully-recessed, reveal-mounted Duette Architella Ménage Shades with 38mm blockout fabric in an average home in Sydney, compared with the House Energy Rating standard of Holland Blinds from AccuRate, in that home. These calculations have been modelled by an independent third party. Savings will vary based on the window type and installation. Luxaflex Duette Shades, Top-Down/Bottom-Up with Ultraglide.
W FA | PA G E 5 6 F E A T U R E S the consumer the ability to operate their shades from any location outside the home from their Smartphone or Tablet. TURNILS Since the relaunch of the Turnils Honeycomb program under the Arena brand, Hunter Douglas has continued to update and enhancement the program, ensuring it is aligned with current interior and market trends. Last June, the Arena range launched new colours across the core fabric ranges and introduced two new fabrics which offered a true point of difference. “The latest additions to the Arena range have proven very popular as they champion market needs and offer sophistication with on-trend colour coordination” explains Diana Altiparmakova, Senior Product Manager of Design and Development for Arena. “The new look collection was focused on our user-centric operating systems and new statement fabrics such as the Hadley and Hendrix ranges which pair with our Lift and Lock Top Down Bottom Up system”.
Commenting on the Arena fabrics, Altiparmakova notes “the subtle and stylish colour palette has really resonated with our customers and consumers. The texture and tones on offer across the new Hadley and Hendrix ranges add drama and dimension to the collection.” “These ranges easily coordinate with home décor, whilst providing a statement at the window, something consumers are wanting more of, seeking to make their window a statement feature and not just for practicality.” “For the core fabric range, Harlem, it was a case of evolving neutrals and introducing a much-needed dose of grey tones. We find that whilst bold and statement colours add a certain wow factor, there is nothing more stunning than a neutrally toned or The Lift and Lock operating system is compatible with all Arena fabrics. Luxaflex Duette Shades, Signature hardware. Duette Duo-Lite, Vertiglide, shapes. Ultraglide operation, and PowerView® Motorisation.
PA G E 5 7 The latest release Hadley 20mm Fabric from Turnils Arena Honeycomb Shades. subtly colour tinted honeycomb shade at the window. “ Altiparmakova adds. “We have innovated and evolved the Arena collection, constantly leading the way with increased interest in honeycomb shades, but at the core of the collection is performance” Altiparmakova adds. “An investment in an Arena system in the home will return immediate benefits to the consumer and provide a versatile high performing window covering for many years to come.” This is an important trend that retailers should note, she adds, because as consumers become more environmentally conscious, and look to ways of reducing their carbon footprint and in turn their living expenses, energy efficient window coverings will be in high demand. “Arena Honeycomb Shades offers superior energy efficiency and we communicate this in real terms as to what that means to the end consumer. Importantly our claims are backed by third party testing which substantiates the potential heat savings for consumers across different Arena offerings. Along with proven savings, the range provides minimal to almost non-existent light gaps, sound absorption and light reflectance for further room comfort.” Arena Honeycomb Shades feature a comprehensive collection of 63 fabrics across a wide variety of tones, textures, and finishes, offering increasing levels of insulation for energy efficiency. Available in three different construction options: 10 mm Single Cell, 20 mm Single Cell or Double Cell and a variety of fabric opacities and design options, allows consumers “to create a completely customised solution, tailored to individual needs for light control, privacy and protection.”
W FA | PA G E 5 8 F E A T U R E S With demand for external sunscreen fabrics maintaining its characteristic highs, the market is responding with innovative systems and unassailable fabric constructions. WFA reports. THE SHANN GROUP Melissa Vine, National Product Manager - Industrial Fabrics, at The Shann Group says the new releases the group is combining with its Atmosphere external mesh for this year are centred around a new trademarked external track guided blind system, Urban Track. “The Atmosphere range has been expanding steadily into a number of outdoors applications including annexe curtains and walls, patio, pergola and fixed screens, as well as more traditional drop blinds and awnings. With the release of Urban Track, Atmosphere has again proved its worth as a perfectly suited external mesh for the blind system, providing clear views out and privacy in.” “Guided blind systems like Urban Track are in demand, and external sunscreen fabrics are a great option to allow everyone to fully enjoy all the benefits of such a system. However, not all external meshes are created equal,” says Vine. “Some of the current offerings in the market can be too heavy for Urban Track and other blind systems. Atmosphere is strong and durable and is second to none in terms of clarity of views out and privacy in. It’s also designed for optimal outdoor living, features superior visibility and exceptional glare, UV and heat reduction. Worth noting is that it’s available in a wide range of colours created to coordinate and contrast with popular out door finishes, from bricks and paint, to coated aluminium and steel.” THE EXTERNAL SUNSCREENS UPDATE “With new products coming on the market and the reinvention of products like Atmosphere, the market for external sunscreen fabrics is pushing in a positive direction and we expect that to continue as Urban Track sales continue to grow. As always, the external sunscreen market is a competitive space and we are always investigating new opportunities and how we can make the fabric a better solution for our customers.” LUXAFLEX “Our external window fashions are specifically designed for harsh UV and demanding Australian weather conditions, providing an extensive range of materials, awning styles and operating choices to suit a diverse range of home designs,” says Jenny Brown, National Marketing Manager, Australian Window Furnishings.” “Maximising living space by creating a seamless indoor-outdoor transition, awnings offer air flow control and sun protection for a more enjoyable entertaining space. Awnings also shade the windows of your home, reducing the reliance on air conditioners, helping to save on energy costs.” Homeowners can choose from a large and diverse range of awning materials to suit specific design requirements, she adds. “Luxaflex sunscreen fabric has many advantages such as allowing control of heat and light, glare reduction and daytime privacy whilst maintaining the view.” “Perfect for reducing heat, sunscreen fabric is commonly used on straight drop and pivot arm awning styles. Dark colours provide The Shann Group - Urban Track
W FA | PA G E 6 0 F E A T U R E S a better view through than lighter colours, while light colours provide better heat reflection.” RICKY RICHARDS “Docril is our premium range of solution-dyed acrylic fabrics from Citel, a European based fabric manufacturer. Citel is a sixth generation family business that is known as market leader in quality and innovation across the globe. The Docril range comprises of Docril Awning fabrics and Docril Garden upholstery fabrics.” “The Docril Garden collection is the newest addition to our range and is a high-quality bespoke range of outdoor upholstery fabrics. The collection consists of seven ranges; Weekend, Asgard, Nature, Solid, Escania, Beach, Urban and Docril Albis, a unique, elegant external curtain fabric.” Docril Garden fabrics are manufactured with solution-dyed acrylic fibres. The solution-dyeing process incorporates the pigments into the molecules of the fibre, creating stronger bonds than what would be achieved by dyeing the thread or the fabric. “This means the fabrics have very low vulnerability to the effects of UV rays, and we can guarantee the brightness and colour fastening for many years.” Docril Garden Collection is supported by a 5-year warranty. BLINDWARE Grand Norton of Blindware notes that demand for high quality awnings in Australia has never been greater, both for commercial and residential installations. The construction industry has been buoyed by a growth in non- residential building, expected to grow from $36 billion in 2016-17 to $39 billion in 2019-20 (Australian Construction Industry Forum), offsetting the downturn of the residential cycle.
“This growth in commercial construction means there is a real need for premium fabric awnings for quality commercial construction to support our economy and growing population,” says Norton. In addition, stronger broad demand for straight drop awnings in residential applications means demand has also grown in this sector, especially for use of wider width and more stable screen fabrics to match the growing trend of wider windows and wider opening sizes in general. With the Australian market somewhat fragmented and dominated by cheaper imports, Norton says he believes there is a gap in the market where supplies are limited for wide width, high quality, premium awning fabric.
Serge 600 Screen Fabric, available through Blindware and manufactured by Copaco in Belgium, has been designed to be an extremely durable, effective collection of exterior screens, he adds. The fabric is woven with PVC coated fibreglass yarns, making them perfect for outdoor use in the tough Australian climate. Serge 600 is available in a wide range of fabric and colour options to suit any dwelling or business, and is the perfect fit for both premium outdoor commercial and residential projects. Norton adds that Blindware and its JV partner Copaco NV of Belgium have taken the decision to stock in Australia a range of colours in Serge 600 screen fabric in 320cm roll widths that will match market demand, where lower quality polyester based exterior fabrics cannot provide similar levels of thermal stability. Belgium-based Copaco is a market-leading European producer of sunscreen fabrics, using the very latest technology in their production. Blindware and Copaco N.V. have operated in a Joint Venture relationship within Australia since 2010.
Evo Drop Awning, Photon One Solar Powered Motor. Ricky Richards - Docril Garden Evo Channel Awning with Photon One Solar Powered Motor.
W FA | PA G E 6 2 F E A T U R E S A focus on automation, aesthetics and versatility are the critical current trends in the curtain hardware market. WFA reports. ROLLEASE ACMEDA Rollease Acmeda’s Automate C – described as “a complete, motorised curtain solution for effortless curtain control” is now available with ARC (Automate Radio Communication) technology. It features a patented protocol featuring bi-directional communication, which when used in conjunction with the free Automate App, allows users to control their curtains using their smart phone.
“When used with Pulse HUB and App you can control your curtain via your smart phone and manage rooms, up to 20 custom scenes and 20 timers. And of course it integrates with the latest smart home devices including Google Home and Alexa, using voice commands to deliver completely hands-free curtain control.” The system still features “soft- touch” technology (which performs INNOVATIONS IN CURTAIN HARDWARE a manual override function) to automatically open or close the curtain with one soft touch or gentle pull of the fabric to initiate movement. Other features include 60 kg max lifting capacity; the ability to be controlled via Rollease Acmeda’s Paradigm remotes or a smart phone device; and the option for ‘favorite position’ setting.
CURTAIN HARDWARE Curtain Hardware’s Lance Hind says the company has just released two new curtain tracking systems to meet growing demand for motorised systems. “Firstly, motorised systems continue to grow in popularity and affordability. We are all well aware of this trend and it will continue exponentially as building automation / smart home operating systems become more common. The new Turbo - Series 81 motorised track is the smallest motorised track currently available on the market at just 26 x 17mm. Where the track / rod is not to be made a feature, it needs to be as small as possible, and no one wants to see the brackets. The Turbo track has our Easy Clip bracket which is concealed from the front view of the track.” “Not only is the track small and discreet, the most important feature is that it can be bent at a tight radius of just 150 mm. Other motorised tracks currently on the market bend at only 300 or 350mm radius, this means they project into the room excessively in the corner, resulting in the depth of the recess or pelmet being excessive for the whole length of the track. The response we have received to this track and its tight bend has been extremely positive; the market loves it.” The trend for small tracks, whether it be motorised or hand drawn, continues, Hind adds, particularly for ceiling mounted tracks where the track is part of the ceiling, with the curtain appearing to drop directly from the ceiling. “The desire to recess tracks into the ceiling is growing as are sales of our Slimline Series 58. This track is only 12 mm high with a half-moon shape at the front and a concealed bracket. We have just added to this family of tracks the Fineline Series 57, which is still a small track with a squarer shape. This style of track is commonly used in both domestic and commercial applications all over the world, and we have responded to the requests of our customers to introduce it to our range. Again, the ability to bend the track in a tight radius is a necessity, and this track bends at just 100mm radius.” “In an ideal world, both tracks and brackets would be invisible, but they also need to be strong and easy to mount and connect to the track. For that reason we are continuing to expand our bracket system with covers over the base to hide the screws, making a much more aesthetically pleasing finish,” says Hind. “For years there has not been much choice in bracket systems. They were ugly, with cams that wear and fail to hold the track, or for a decorator rod they have a system to conceal the screws that are a nightmare for the fitter to get level and fix Rollease Acmeda
W FA | PA G E 6 4 F E A T U R E S to the wall. Finally this is changing, with simple click-in brackets like the ‘Easy Clip’ and simple clip over covers on the brackets.” Hind describes the market as “remaining remarkably buoyant, with S-Wave curtains being approximately 80% and other conventional pleat systems 20%. Conventional pleat systems are now mainly used for block out curtains, and given the commercial applications in hotels, this is keeping the conventional pleats alive. For domestic applications, the S-Wave sheer curtain and a block out curtain or blind behind are still most popular.” Along with the ever increasing popularity of S-Wave, the Clear Pocket Tape System is another popular product, rather than the old Snap Tape, Hind says. “This trend is expected to continue as decorators, designers and fitters alike prefer this system. As a result, we have made it easier for workrooms to identify which pockets to load the hooks into for either 80% or 100% fullness, by having a stitched marking in the correct pocket. This saves time and money. Our next move is to improve the stack back on S-Wave curtains.” Demand in the market is also growing for different ways to return the curtain to the wall. “This has led to the development of different hangers from the brackets and the ability to butt a short piece of track returning to the wall to support the curtain. This gets away from doing mitre cuts which are notoriously difficult to make meet perfectly in the corner.” Following Curtain Hardware’s recent visit to R+T Stuttgart, along with visits to a number of European factories, the company is now looking at introducing more new tracks, says Hind.
“We see a very bright future for our market and we are determined to continue to offer new and innovative systems.” TBS “As the dominance of S-Fold continues we are seeing a slight change to the way customers are Curtain Hardware - Track Return Curtain Hardware - Curved Track TBS - Designer 15 ordering their components and made to measure tracks,” says Craig Foster of TBS. “We are finding that our Wave Fold is now just as popular as the S-Fold system. As the Wave Fold system uses a more traditional hook and pocket system, the curtain is much easier to hang than an S-Fold drape. There is no need to snap pendants onto S-Fold studs and the Wave Fold system is also more forgiving if any changes need to be made to the fullness of the fabric - the pockets on the Wave Fold tape come pre-marked, so it’s easy to identify where to place the hooks for both 80% and 100% fullness. All current S-Fold track profiles are able to be supplied in the Wave Fold system and the Wave Fold drape looks exactly the same as the S-Fold.” “Although S-Fold remains a very popular and easy system to work with, we’ve developed our Wave Fold system after listening to feedback from customers, work rooms and installers who wanted a system which would be the next step in the evolution in this style of tracking system.” Foster says one of the main challenges for businesses is the rapid pace at which everything is moving. “The world is getting faster and with almost everything at your fingertips, the pressure to deliver in very short time frames, for both wholesalers and retailers, can sometimes be overwhelming. In response to that TBS will be launching a new program soon that will give the power to our customers to turn made to measure S-Fold and Wave Fold tracks around within a day or two. We will be sending out details about the program in our email newsletter and in person via and sales reps.” “Aside from S-Fold and Wave Fold our Streamline and Renaissance tracking systems are still the backbone of our curtain track program. The reliability and ease of use of both systems provide customers with the confidence to sell them without a second thought and System 20 continues to be the go-to tracking system for hotels and commercial developments.”
W FA | PA G E 6 6 F E A T U R E S R+T Asia 2018, held March 20-22 in Shanghai, set a new record for visitor numbers with an increase of 10 percent over the 2017 show, exceeding 34,000 visitors and 500 exhibitors. James Boston reports. The number even surprised organisers who were expecting a quieter year, with R+T Stuttgart having being held only three weeks previously. And while there were fewer Australians around the floor than in 2017, the numbers were still strong, with 13% of all visitors at the show coming from overseas. The solid numbers reflect the show’s position as the most important trade fair for interior and exterior sun protection systems, windows, doors, gates, and roller shutters in China and the Asia-Pacific region.
R+T ASIA BEATS EXPECTATIONS IN STUTTGART YEAR The trade fair was dominated by the themes of quality assurance and competitiveness vis-à-vis the European market. In the opinion of Dr. Christian Junkers, Managing Director of Junkers & Müllers (Germany), participation in R+T Asia is best explained by rising demand for high calibre products. “China is a growing market, especially in terms of domestic consumption. We’re sensing an increasing demand for high quality, and particularly for European products, that we’re in a good position to cater for here, both for our Chinese and other Asian customers”.
Jeroen Abelen, Export Manager at Vako (Netherlands) while the China market is not their focus it was a great show for catching up with global customers, including Australians. “Whilst China is only of limited interest to us, we meet with all of our Asia-Pacific customers at R+T Asia including those from New Zealand, Australia, and Singapore.“ “We’ve taken account of the fact that fewer visitors attend due to the R+T in Stuttgart, but we’re still very satisfied. We encountered practically all of our customers at both trade fairs, which was really great.” The 2018 organisers, Messe Stuttgart and VNU Exhibitions Asia, collaborated to bring the winners of the Innovation Prize from Stuttgart to Shanghai for the first time. Burda Worldwide Technologies (Germany), Schenker Storen (Switzerland), Serge Ferrari (Italy), and Zeitgeber (Korea) all presented their innovations to the Chinese market.
Jiri Burda, Managing Director at Burda Worldwide Technologies (Germany) said the initiative was great for his company. “After R+T and winning the Innovation Prize, the chance to present our heating, cooling and lighting systems here was a really interesting experience.“ “As a company, we’re currently trying to establish ourselves in Asia and R+T Asia was the kick-off for our Asia- Pacific operations.“
PA G E 6 7 THE FAMOUS AUSTRALIAN Peter Monkhouse of ICL(SA) and the Australian representative of A-OK Motors in Australia, now has another string to his bow, becoming the face of Guanjia motorised retractable hanging systems. Peter has taken his fame in good spirits, even handing out autographed copies of the brochures at the Shanghai show. And while he may not have the hundreds of thousands of Instagram or weibo followers of other famous brand representatives in the Chinese market, he certainly made an impact at the show. Peter explains that the relationship with the company had built up over a long time.
“I’ve been associated with the two directors of the company for over ten years now, I’ve got a very close relationship with them, and they’ve been helping me out in sourcing product here in China.” “In return, I’ve been giving them business advice, hopefully always good advice. It’s a very natural type of relationship.” “The Chinese outdoor living and hospitality markets are, of course, of great interest to us. This was our first at R+T Asia, but it definitely won’t be our last” R+T Asia will celebrate its 15th edition in 2019 moving to the earlier dates of 27 February 27 to 1 March, again at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre.
R+T ASIA 2018 - THE AUSTRALIAN PERSPECTIVE For those with a long history of sourcing in and dealing with China, 2018 may be looked back on as the year when China finally came of age. This is not to say that the change hasn’t been coming for a while but the feedback from Australian visitors at the 2018 R+T Asia was that the influence of the ‘iPhone generation’ started to show its impact on quality, customer service and customer experience. One such industry veteran was Ken Dawes from Shutters Australia, who told WFA that Chinese manufacturers have clicked that the supply of customers isn’t necessarily endless. “Thirty years ago, ten years ago, or even five years ago, Chinese fabricators didn’t value their customers because they thought there’s another one around the corner.” “They burnt that customer and they think they can get another one. Now, they’re looking at keeping the customer and they’re much more ethical. I think that the whole attitude of society in China has changed.” Dawes says the Chinese are these days more focused on attention to detail and quality standards; and they’re proud of what they do. “The world’s smaller, so the competition is coming from every corner.” “As a result, the Chinese manufacturers are much more customer-focused, and take the attitude of ‘Let me do it for you’.” “I think that because they see the same suppliers, and the same purchasers, same fabricators every year, I think everybody knows now that there is a limited customer base they can work with.” Dawes added that the latest generation, the iPhone generation has higher standards and that is feeding though into domestically produced products.
“Apple has set standards. McDonalds has set standards around the world and it trickles down to all the products.” The product, whilst not directly related to window furnishings, was also on display at the show at many other stands as a complementary product. “The motorised clothes racks fit in with the idea of home automation, smart home, getting more people to look at an overall idea of products for their home.” “Here in Shanghai, they are focusing on the Chinese market because, predominantly, it’s Chinese people that are here this year. It suits the people, the audience that are coming to this conference.” Peter concurred with the suggestion that Chinese product had come of age, with a notable improvement in exterior systems in even the last 12 months.
“Just looking at the awning systems that are here; they’ve improved dramatically. The motorisation has become more technically-advanced. Just generally, product is so much better over the years that I’ve been coming.”
W FA | PA G E 6 8 F E A T U R E S Whilst the industry heads to Stuttgart once every three years to see the latest and greatest of product releases at R+T, there are many who take advantage of the time away to relax with industry colleagues before, during and after the expo. The 24-hour trip to Stuttgart for the R+T expo may not be the most gruelling of treks, despite this year’s record cold snap, however getting time away from one’s business can be a great opportunity to reflect or escape on the daily grind. This year was no different for hundreds of Australians visiting the show, many of whom travelled with family to extend the trip into a holiday, whilst others caught up during organised trips or events with industry colleagues. Here are some snapshots of what industry members got up to over the time preceding, during and after the trade fair. ROLLEASE ACMEDA OFFERS STUTTGART PANORAMA On the second evening of R+T, Rollease Acmeda hosted an exclusive cocktail party for its valued customers. The function took place at The Cube Restaurant in the heart of Stuttgart - a unique space with glass on all sides providing an incredible view of Stuttgart’s centre. Approximately 300 guests STUTTGART SIDELINERS were treated to an extensive array of fine food and drinks throughout the evening.
“The event brought our team and customers together from all around the world, to mingle, socialise and network in a relaxed and fun environment,” said Lara Apicella from Rollease Acmeda. APRÈS-SKI WITH MARKILUX Markilux dealers from around Australia converged in the Austrian Village of Ellmau after the conclusion of R+T to hit the slopes. With an expert guide the group explored over a hundred kilometers of ski area and then recovered with spas, saunas, excellent food, beer and schnapps. Neil Marot, managing director of Markilux Australia said the trip had been a great chance for dealers from around Australia and New Zealand to meet, catch up and share ideas about business as well as relax. “The trip was a great success with 32 people attending from across the Markilux dealer network.” “We hosted a tour of the factory in Germany pre-R+T and then arranged the ski trip to take place afterwards. “We are planning to do this trip every three years,” Marot added. Rollease Acmeda Rollease Acmeda Markilux Markilux