One of the UK’s oldest manufacturers is looking to revolutionise window production across the world thanks to a ‘bit of good old fashioned’ Black Country innovation.
J. Banks, which was formed in Willenhall in 1846, is combining traditional design ingenuity with modern day problem solving skills to launch its ‘EASY-JUST’ range of spiral sash balances for use in vertical sliding sash windows.
Using a unique pre-tensioned balance system, the company has single handedly eradicated one of the longest running problems in the sector, with fabricators and fitters now able to use a screwdriver to adjust positioning without having to take the actual sashes out.
This flair for innovation has not gone unnoticed, with £15k of orders already completed in the first month and a place in the last three finalists of the Lord Stafford Award (LSA) for Innovation secured.
David Wellman, Managing Director and a part of the development team behind the invention, picked up the story:
“EASY-JUST, which is suitable for aluminum, timber and PVCU frames, is the direct result of a two year development programme that, quite simply, has the potential to change the way we manufacture sash windows for years to come.
“In order to match the exact specification of each window, the fabricator would usually have to re-adjust the tension after the window was made and this involved having to remove all of the sashes just to get to the individual balance adjusters.”
He continued: “This is no longer the case. We have been able to devise a fully patented range of products that provide an automatic adjustment stop to prevent over tensioning and a special release button should re-adjustment be required.
“In a nutshell, this means that the owner of the home can do it just as easy as the fabricator or fixer.”
Employing 35 people across its three divisions, Tipton-based J. Banks is projecting annual sales of 200k for ‘EASY-JUST’ in the first full year of activity, creating an additional two jobs in the process.
If these estimates are correct it will also create a much needed boost for Black Country manufacturing, with every part of the production process carried out by companies within the area.
“I’m fiercely proud of our heritage and our design excellence and both of these will be firmly in the spotlight when we compete at the LSA event next month,” continued David.
“If the region is to be successful and in a position to compete against the cheap imports of the Far East, we need to make sure that innovation becomes our biggest selling point…it just has to happen!”
2007 marks the ten year anniversary of the Lord Stafford Awards, which showcase West Midlands companies who have worked with universities and innovation programmes to develop new products and processes.
Held at the NEC on November 15th, the gala event is the showpiece of Advantage West Midlands’ first ever Festival of Innovation and will once again honour companies and individuals in four categories, including ‘Impact Through Innovation’, ‘Achievement in Innovation’, ‘Entrepreneurial Spirit’ and ‘Knowledge Transfer Champion’.
Lord Stafford, Patron of the Awards, concluded: “J. Banks is a perfect example of how industry and academia can work together to solve issues that have plagued the window manufacturing sector for over fifty years.
“By tapping into the 3D CAD design and prototyping capabilities of the University of Wolverhampton and The Centre of Engineering Excellence, the company has brought its product to market quicker and more cost effectively – leaving it perfectly placed to make the most of customer demand.”
Going forward, J. Banks has ambitious plans to centralise its four trading divisions under one roof by Winter 2008.