March 26, 2013

Precast lifting systems – safety counts

They say that the best consultant for business is money. Unfortunately another parallel is also true – lethal accident is the best consultant for new governmental safety regulation.

The above seems to be very true in one developing country where several lives were lost at the building site when elements were lifted….and elements were fallen down to seven workers killing them. It seems that now everybody has started to really think how elements should be lifted and with what.  It looks like more regulation is to come and only standardized systems are allowed to be used – in order to not repeat the accidents.

For Peikko the precast lifting system has been a difficult challenge. The requirements from the market regarding the technical and quality issues have increased, however, the alternative for our customer have been to use certain low cost bulk products. In some cases regulators have been also allowing the use of some waste and leftovers from their own production (left-over rebar / rope from elements). Selling highest quality products at commodity prices is not always the best when trying to run business. But we have no doubts to continue in this key product range – it is essential in our precast product portfolio.

Peikko is one of the first companies to go for CE-marking in Europe not only for lifting clutches but also for lifting anchors. We have in-house production of anchors both in Germany and China and have constant quality control in our production – e.g. 100% clutches go through tensile testing in our Zhangjiagang factory.  
No compromises in Europe, no compromises in any other country.

March 14, 2013

Testing on products - for the sake of reliability

At Peikko we would like to do things right. We do 3D-design, we make FEM analysis, we make real-size steel samples of the products and study them further.; And at the end of the day, we need to make sure about the functionality of our products and for that – full-scale concrete tests are many times required.

To plan a test is a science itself. And actually, the plan is much more important than the breaking of the concrete or the steel itself. The test has to really demonstrate a real-life situation of a column, floor, balcony or other object in the building. Tests e.g. related to some new, coming product versions we did last year at the University of Greenwich, United Kingdom.

The reasons for testing are not just when we create new products. In 2012 we proved new calculations referring to EN –standards with regards to our punching shear to work in real life situation at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland. See below some pictures of the test set-up.
Sometimes we also want to make sure that products we have been selling a longer time really work and the conventional wisdom is really correct. For this reason we have e.g. done extensive testing of lifting anchor products range with interesting results at the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany.

To enlarge usage of products to extreme cases we also do further analyses like three-dimensional FEM thermal analysis for PCs corbel in Centre Technique et Industriel de la Construction Metallique (CTICM), France.
For the sake of proving that there are weaknesses in EN-standards and need to be changed in certain sections, we have done tests at the Technical University of Zilina, Slovakia. Sometimes it is better to prove that we are right not with calculations, because physical parts can lead to faster conclusions by the authorities.

During the last year there was also one very absurd case with one of our competitor. The competitor claimed one of our connection products to be unsafe to both customers and to an approval body in one given country. This was the first ever claim in our 48-year history where Peikko were blamed to sell unsafe products.Again, the successful tests on our product at the Technical Research Centre of Finland, VTT, Finland proved the claims of the competitor not only technically baseless, but at the same time convinced the authorities and boosted the trust on Peikko as a reliable partner.>
All in all, these were the tests done during 2012. In year 2013 we will have further development programs, such as Deltabeam tests to be done in North America. We remain committed to make our industry more safe and reliable, now and in the years to come.

March 7, 2013

Peikko – a member of VBBF – to influence product approvals

Peikko joined some years back an organization called VBBF, an organization of which name will soon be changed to ECS, European Engineered Construction System Association. >

It was partly a difficult decision, because the other members were competitors of Peikko. We did not want to belong to some secret club of competitors where some pricing could be agreed, we were not wanting to reveal some info to our competitors. We considered the time spend on this kind of club as time wasted - the customer meetings are just always much more important.

Yet, we decided to give a try to see what competitors can do together the influence the technical surroundings. Our experience has been mixed, however, we are committed to VBBF.  It seems that parties respect the EU competition law and no illegal talk has been going around, e.g. on pricing.

To my disappointment not so many general technical projects have been started. It is just almost impossible from the competition point of view to agree on generic projects for the public benefit as all companies are worried that somehow the others would benefit from their own technical knowledge. It remains to be seen if any viable outcome is coming from this area.

But what I think has really started is that VBBF is able to influence institutes like DibT, Deutsche Institut für Bautechnik, as a group. There is a huge bottleneck of resources on these institutes and to influence this issue as an individual company is next to impossible, but as a group the voice has much more possibilities to be heard.  In Europe we need to get the product approvals for our new, innovative products much faster to be able to also competitive outside Europe. And this is clearly in the interest of the whole connections industry, not just one company.

I hope that joint effort, the work of VBBF, can be fully transparent to our customers and will benefit them long-term. Time will show how successful we are with this respect. But at least Peikko gives a fair try.

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