Monday, 14 September 2015

SIP: Structural Insulated Panels

{Previously posted in LinkedIn group I created: Pre-Engineered manufactured structural Building products, and have since shut down. It having a membership of 30 people. Most of these people also in my group Pre-Engineered Manufactured Building Systems Group which has over 2000 members.}

In recent years partly involved with testing SIP's at UniSA, here in South Australia. Whilst there are benefits with SIP's there are problems breaking into a market where brick veneer houses dominate.

There is a lot more to product design than getting some structural testing done. One noticeable point is that the quality characteristics of bricks are not explicitly specified, and yet perceived as the material to use.

People with European heritage tend to want double brick, but when discover the cost opt, for brick veneer. We have highly reactive clay soils, and footings to support such decorative veneer use a lot of concrete, and tend to be expensive. There is no real design goes into such slabs and footings, more of an automatic choice, that's the way its done, with no real thought: even though insistence that engineer be involved for site specific conditions. I don't believe that people really understand that the brick is largely just a decoration, and that they are spending a lot of money on footings simply the minimise cracking of that decoration.

So I think one of the first things that anyone needs to do before introducing a new structural product for wall construction, is identify the quality characteristics of brick, and carry out value analysis on the brick veneer construction. Then provide a comparison between the brick veneer construction and the alternative being promoted.

Simply saying faster to construct doesn't really sell it. Also new technologies also require an appropriately trained workforce and a suitable set of tools. Also need to understand that small building contractors have a certain friendship with their subbies: which goes to concrete slab, timber framing and brick veneer. To introduce new materials, need to find a reliable supplier of the materials, and reliable subcontractor to install. Along with other trades that want to work with the materials, such as electricians and plumbers.

So whilst SIP's are a product with benefits, cannot expect to get anywhere by simply selling the materials. Do basically need some stock plans of buildings for comparison: that is buildings in brick veneer compared against same building constructed with SIP's.