Tuesday, January 30, 2018

News: AMRC tests "beautifully simple" new construction aid

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A retired builder-turned-entrepreneur has invented and patented a brand new method of joining roof battens which will not only improve construction safety, but make a roof quicker and easier to assemble than the traditional method.

The KEAH Roof Batten Joints have been tested and verified for use at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre's (AMRC) Advanced Structural Testing Centre (ASTC) after KEAH director Ken Johnson chose to work with the team there due to their ability to create bespoke testing systems and procedures at the UKAS accredited facility.

Based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham and a partner in the HVM Catapult (the Government's strategic initiative that aims to revitalise the manufacturing industry), the AMRC focuses on advanced machining and materials research for aerospace and other high-value manufacturing sectors.

It houses the ASTC which provides state-of-the-art means, methods and skills to validate engineering materials, components, assemblies and full products.

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Ken, from Leeds, who is 70 years old, has spent the majority of his career as a builder and developer in the construction industry. After retiring from his construction businesses, he felt driven to put his own ideas formulated through his vast wealth of experience on building sites, into action to improve construction processes.

Ken created a new company, KEAH, to bring those ideas to life starting with the innovative Plastic Pipe Chamfer and now the ground-breaking new roofing aid which is completely manufactured in Yorkshire.

The Roof Batten Joint is a plastic injection-moulded, push-fit "joint" to easily connect horizontal wooden roof battens at any point along a roof structure, instead of needing to trim them to size and nail them to the vertical roofing spas.

Ken Johnson, inventor of the KEAH joints (pictured, right), said: "After working in construction all my life and having first-hand experience of the issues that can cause delays and cost resources on site, I thought there must be a smarter way to complete those time-consuming intensive manual jobs.

"The joints make felting and lathing a roof quicker, but also safer and stronger than the usual methods as they eliminate weakening of the roof structure from trimming and patching battens that can lead to split batten ends and joint failure."

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The ASTC are testing the batten joints to destruction using a bespoke testing technique.

Phil Spiers, Head of the ASTC (pictured, left), said: "KEAH constructed a roofing model that fits perfectly into our Tall Rig. The rig was developed during project work with Sheffield-based Gripple UK, and has the capability to conduct longer and more accurate tests for a variety of purposes.

"We applied loads to the KEAH joints using the rig until failure of the roof batten, noted the mode of failure and the maximum load achieved just prior to failure. Compared to the traditional joint the KEAH joints were capable of carrying an extra ten stone on average.

Described as beautifully simple, the KEAH joints, which will save time and material waste, are stronger than traditional nailed roof batten fixtures and experienced lower rates of failure.

KEAH have already developed the product through a series of prototypes and have been working closely with national construction and roofing companies to ensure the product meets the needs of those keen to get their hands on the new technology.

The company benefited from SME grant funding through the High Value Manufacturing Catapult to pay up to 50% of the costs for the testing.

Johnson, added: "For a small company such as ours, it really helps us get this pioneering roofing product off the ground. The testing is invaluable as it means we will now be able to approach our potential end users and confidently state the load bearing weights of our product and that the joints are ready to go into production thanks to the AMRC."

AMRC website

Images: AMRC

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