The vine post

We’ve already extolled the many benefits of using steel posts over wooden, (see our article Understanding Your Steel Vineyard Post in February’s issue of Vineyard magazine) – this month we’re taking a look behind the scenes at the companies producing this vital trellising equipment.

At Vine-Works Ltd, we’ve worked closely and built long-standing relationships with two fantastic steel manufacturers: Hadley Industries Holdings Ltd and EWS (Manufacturing) Ltd. At the beginning of July, Hadley announced the acquisition of EWS, saying “The company greatly complements our wide range of value added construction products”. It’s not just viticulture products these companies supply, they provide applications within the construction, automotive and industrial sectors too. The two manufacturers will continue to operate separately for the time being.

Based in Wolverhampton, EWS employ 70 people at their 90,000 sq ft factory and are one of the UK’s largest cold rollforming steel section manufacturers. They produce a wide range of products, varying in complexity and innovation, allowing you to use “[their] expertise to bring your ideas from concept to reality, maximising performance and best value.” Over 25 million metres of cold rollformed sections are produced a year, which are exported to markets across the globe.

Hadley is a global leader in advanced cold rolled steel technology with manufacturing facilities in Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. More than 600 people are employed worldwide.

Hadley and EWS steel vine posts have proven to be the strongest on the market according to independent like-for-like tests. The posts “are designed to offer maximum strength which ensures they are able to withstand modern automated harvesting equipment, without damage to post or tags.”

Vine posts are produced using a technique called cold rollforming. The manufacturers receive the steel in coiled form. The cold rollforming process sees the long strip of coiled metal pass through a set of rolls, (which are mounted on consecutive stands called passes), with each set performing only an incremental part of the bending motion. “Rollforming is ideal for producing constant profile parts with long lengths and in large quantities.”

Once cold rollformed, the posts are hot dip galvanised. They are dipped into zinc galvanise and heated to a specific temperature. This provides an additional hard, durable protective coating and ensures any exposed edges from the manufacturing processes are also protected.

Due to the initial high cost of creating roll sets for a new product, computer simulation is used to develop the design and optimise the forming process, minimising the number of passes required and any material stresses in the final product. EWS have a fully-equipped design department and in-house tool room which enable them to manage the entire process from design, development and product testing through to large scale manufacture.

There are many advantages to using the cold rollforming method over extrusion: the parts may be much lighter and with thinner walls, they are stronger having been work hardened in a cold state and the process requires less energy.

The quality, strength and reliability of the end product is obviously paramount, but it’s not the only reason we choose to work with Hadley and EWS. It’s important to ensure that all of our suppliers’ ethos and methods of trading are in line with our own. Both Hadley and EWS commit to “[contributing] to manufacturing in a low carbon world.”  Each of their products are carefully developed with environmental impacts at the fore with a focus on reducing raw material consumption. Hadley were the “first rollforming company in the UK to receive Carbon Trust Standard for Zero Waste to Landfill certification.”

Additionally, like Vine-Works Ltd, both manufacturing companies have strong policies regarding Slavery and Human Trafficking. Vine-Works Ltd are a certified Gangmaster and members of the Association of Labour Providers, (ALP) and Stronger Together. These organisations are vital in protecting our workers and ensuring a safe, secure workplace for all. We choose our suppliers carefully and are proud that Hadley and EWS are equally committed to these values.

Every piece of equipment has a story behind it. Next time you’re walking through your vineyard, take a moment to consider the other industries behind each component. Their hard work and continuous striving for development in technology and design allows us to create vineyards of the highest quality. By using Vine-Works, you’re not only supporting the viticulture industry, but British manufacturing too.

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