Raintite Fatra Unit in Caldicot, south Wales

Discovering Raintite Fatra: a perfectly engineered coated metal, manufactured to last.

I was recently invited to take a tour of the Raintite factory to see, up close, how they manufacture this perfectly engineered product.
I spent a lot of the late 2000’s in South Wales visiting steel sites, particularly the old Corus/ Tata Steel Caldicot site, so driving down the country lanes in South Wales (keeping to the new 20 mph speed limit!) was a trip down memory lane. Next door to the old Corus site is the home of Raintite where they’ve been for 17 years. Benbow Steels have stocked and supplied Fatra Raintite coated metal since we opened so we know the product and the team very well but this was my first visit to the factory.

What is Raintite Fatra?

Raintite produce a Fatra membrane coated metal that is used for gutters, walkways and roofs. It provides a safe, protected surface that comes with a 25-year guarantee as standard or Raintite’s enhanced, market leading 35-year guarantee which is the only one of it’s kind available. With their own unique slip resistant emboss, Raintite’s product is designed to withstand extremes of weather & ponding water and is easy and quick to weld and install onsite.

The Tour

Walking into the factory it’s clear that this is a company with engineering at its heart. It feels relaxed and clean but the team are focused and busy.
Alex Hunt, the Operations Manager gives me a tour. We walk over to the far end of the factory where the hot dip galvanised steel arrives at the factory in coil form. The steel has 4 additional layers of epoxy polyester paint which gives it extra protection from the elements and ensures it can achieve a long life with limited maintenance.

Find out more about how prepainted steel is made in a previous Benbow Steels’ blog here- Prepainted Steel Coil Coating – The History and the Process.

The material can be 0.6mm, 1.2mm, 1.5mm or 2.0mm thick and in widths of 1000mm, 1250mm and 1475mm. The sheet steel is cut to the exact length the customer needs on their cut-to-length line which gives Raintite the ability to offer the widest range of sizes available in the market.

Once the material is cut to the exact length needed by the customer, it is moved onto the thermally efficient infra-red oven section. There are moments of engineering brilliance throughout the Raintite factory but I had to promise I would protect their trade secrets so I can’t share them here! The oven though is the point in the process that the subtlety and experience of the engineering team is at its finest. Too hot or too slow and the product will burn; too cold or too fast and the adhesive won’t be sufficiently tacky. The temperature and speed of the oven section must also take into account the temperature of both the incoming steel sheet and the ambient temperature, which can be different on any given day and also vary throughout the day.
At a pace of over 2km per day, in order to provide the product’s 35 year guarantee the engineering team must be certain they get this stage right. As well as excellent training and experience, there are also five separate visual and monitoring stages throughout the process to ensure the finished coated sheets are of the highest quality.

As the steel exits the oven, the grey (RAL 7012) Fatra membrane is applied where a permanent bond with the steel sheet is formed. The now, Raintite coated metal® is cooled to ambient temperature using rainwater that’s harvested from their own gutters around the factory, ensuring there’s no mains water usage. The energy used for the whole factory is also all from renewable sources so they consciously keep their carbon footprint low.
The membrane is trimmed to the exact width of the steel so that the whole sheet is covered with the Fatra product, eliminating the need for the customer to trim the edges or use a product with bare steel edges. The waste membrane is batched up and sent out to be reused in Damp Proof Course (DPC) so no material is wasted or sent to landfill. The Fatra membrane is designed to overlap one end of the steel sheet as this innovative solution eliminates 50% of on-site welding.

The Finished Product

The finished Raintite product is auto stacked onto FSC certified timber pallets and strapped with banding that started off life as plastic bottles. It is then ready to be shipped to the customer along with the full range of accessories if required, or it can be profiled if the customer needs.

A pallet of Raintite Fatra product
Raintite Fatra stacked ready to be shipped

I ended my tour with a coffee with Alec Cox, Director of Raintite who is clearly very proud of the business, the product and the team. He told me “We pride ourselves on our engineering excellence here at Raintite. We’re a small team but that keeps us flexible for our customers. I’m proud of the service we offer and the quality of our product. There’s a reason that we produce the only gutter product in the UK that can offer a 35-year guarantee.”

Raintite Fatra exit of factory
The Raintite Factory exit with material ready to ship to the customer

With next day nationwide delivery or same day local deliveries from Benbow Steels the material can go from order to the customer, or even on site, within 24 hours.
If you’d like to buy the product or want to talk to the sales team contact Raintite directly on 01291 423 252 or info@raintite.co.uk or contact the team at Benbow Steels on sales@benbowsteels.com or 0121 520 2001.
If you’d like to know more about Raintite Fatra products you can take a look at their data sheets here: Raintite Data Sheets | Benbow Steels Ltd

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