Reply to Swisspacer (Vetrotech Saint-Gobain International AG)

There is a popular misconception in the market about our products that we would like to correct. Of course it’s publicised by one of our competitors and while we don’t normally rise to the bait, we do now feel we owe it to the marketplace to provide the facts so they can make an informed decision.

The statement that Swisspacer seems to favour in their marketing is ‘Why buy complicated or expensive machinery for the application of certain types of spacer bars when you don’t have to?’ For the record, I couldn’t agree more! Obviously, what they are trying to spin is that competitive products to theirs are not as cost effective. This assertion is quite simply wrong and woefully inaccurate.

Savvy sealed unit manufacturers and fabricators understand the various ways of doing cost comparisons when it comes to IG production - short, mid and long term - but let's take the three most obvious contributors for a factual comparison: 1) Consumable cost, 2) Machinery investment and 3) Labour cost.

With any warm edge tubular bar, like Swisspacer, that cannot be bent on existing equipment without either modification or indeed complete replacement of the bar bender, there are huge associated incremental costs in terms of labour and consumable prices. On this basis, they cost extra over both aluminium and Super Spacer.

Swisspacer argues that you don't need to invest to use their product. That's fine, but if you don't invest, you don't enjoy any tangible productivity benefits of using their product compared to aluminium, and it will actually end up costing you a lot of money.

Example – manual manufacturing

On the manufacture of 1000 units per week with a usage of 3 meters of spacer per unit, not to invest in prototype bending automation to run their product – i.e. revert to cutting and keying the spacer - will cost an additional £92,000 per year over aluminium in consumable terms with Swisspacer V. And don’t forget the additional labour costs – at least one additional person to manually cut and key the spacer at a cost of £18,632 per year based on £8.00 per hour, 40 hours per week plus National insurance. This means an increase of in excess of £110,000 per year to switch from aluminium to Swisspacer V. For the full breakdown of how we arrived at this figure, please visit

In comparison with Super Spacer there is still an "on" cost to aluminium, but a major saving over Swisspacer and any other warm edge tubular bar. The cost of Super Spacer is similar to other spacer systems, but there are no expensive keys, no PIB or desiccant filling required, thanks to Super Spacer’s pre-desiccated design, unique reverse dual seal acrylic and requirement for less sealant, equating to a 17% saving in sealant costs. The machinery cost for this option is just £7200, or a payback of just over one month! Finally, when productivity gains and labour savings are taken into account due to the reduction in manufacturing processes, Super Spacer is by far the most cost competitive warm edge technology on the market, costing just £34,000 per annum over and above aluminium - a major saving of £76,000 over Swisspacer V.

Automated Production

We can demonstrate the same thing again for companies using automated production. The cost of Swisspacer V over and above aluminium in this instance is £195,000 per annum compared to the additional £60,000 per annum Super Spacer would cost you. So Super Spacer offers a saving of £135,000 per annum over Swiss Spacer V. Again for calculations please see  We have challenged Swisspacer with these figures and in the correspondence we’ve seen from the company to date, they have not yet addressed any of these costing issues.

The only sustainable way to remove cost from manufacturing is to remove process. Swisspacer V at best has the same amount of process as aluminium spacer if you are prepared to spend a quarter of a million pounds to achieve this. At worst, it adds process and therefore labour which inevitably add cost. Super Spacer is still the only mainstream warm edge technology manufactured in the UK that can help companies achieve more energy efficient windows, while also achieving the process savings at any level of manufacturing.

Andy Jones

MD Edgetech UK and Europe

600450 Reply to Swisspacer (Vetrotech Saint-Gobain International AG)
Date: 29 October 2010
Source: Edgetech UK and Europe

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