Modern methods of construction, such as offsite manufacturing, have been widely identified as key to closing the gap in affordable housing provision, as well as providing more efficient solutions for large buildings and hotel developers. The move away from site-based building methods means eschewing the slow, component focused reliance on traditional skills in favour of an efficient, factory-built, quality-controlled approach. This perfectly suits the timber-frame industry with its lightweight, structurally-sound solutions.
MEDITE SMARTPLY, manufacturer of innovative timber panel products, has adapted the way it works ahead of the forecasted rise in offsite production.
“We have developed a number of ground-breaking technologies over the past few years to ready ourselves for the increased demand in offsite modular construction”, says David Murray, Innovation Manager at MEDITE SMARTPLY. “Our SMARTPLY FR OSB/3 panels, for example, are ideal for wall, roof and floor sheathing applications where a combination of strength, moisture-resistance and flame-retardancy are paramount, such as low-rise housing, medium-rise apartment blocks, hotels and school buildings.”
“Timber burns, that’s a reality, but it doesn’t mean we can’t slow down the rate at which it does, or even better prevent its ignition. This is exactly what we can do with SMARTPLY FR OSB/3, which is lightweight and structurally sound, but with an enhanced reaction to fire classification, due to the environmentally-friendly water-based flame-retardant added to the OSB strands during manufacture.”
Reading the shift to offsite construction early-on, the innovation team at SMARTPLY identified the need for a different type and format of product to suit a new demand.
“Our brand new Conti-roll® manufacturing advancements now mean that we can manufacture FR OSB panels up to 7.5-metres-long – perfect for offsite construction,” continues Murray. “What these large panels mean for the industry is that we can now sheath entire sides of an apartment, home or school in a controlled environment, which can simply then be delivered to site and craned into place ready for services to be installed. No additional post-treatment or coating is required.”
Structurally sound and with European reaction to fire class C-s2,d0 and Bfl-S1 performance, as well as independent WPA Benchmark FR Build certification and STA FR Build approval, SMARTPLY FR OSB/3 is also suitable for use with torch-on roofing systems.
“All FR panels that we produce from our manufacturing plant in Waterford, Ireland are CE certified. Unlike many panels, flame-retardant SMARTPLY FR OSB/3 is manufactured with Zeroignition® technology during production. Treatments applied to panels after manufacture can damage their structural integrity, thereby invalidating the CE mark.”
Additional tweaks needed on site can be addressed easily due to the nature of the product. This means that it can be cut, drilled or fixed without invalidating the CE mark.
“The SMARTPLY FR OSB/3 product that we’ve developed is also lighter and easier to cut than mineral-based panels. In fact, it can be installed in exactly the same way as standard structural OSB/3 with the added benefit of ‘built-in’ flame retardancy.
“If adjustments or renovations need to be made at a later date, then it’s still not an issue. Our panels produce less dust than mineral-based panels when cut, they do not crack when fixings are inserted or shatter on impact during construction. Furthermore, they do not contain any added formaldehyde – something that is vital for sensitive environments.”
Supply chain traceability is also easy to monitor, meaning that environmental credentials are easy to prove and product supply and demand can be managed with precision.
“When it comes to the sustainability and traceability of our products we have an enviable guaranteed supply of FSC-certified timber sourced from our own forests in Ireland. This removes the risk of using illegal timber, a high-priority issue in our industry.”
“It is our goal to provide the offsite industry with high-performance wood panel products that continue to address constructional challenges, and this is what we’ve done with SMARTPLY FR OSB/3. We will continue working closely with the trade, and insurers to create a safer, more efficient timber-frame industry.”
While timber has long been a sustainable, structurally sound and lightweight solution, it has not always been adopted at a mass-scale. With the growing need for housing, changing demographics, skills shortages and offsite construction methods providing a logical solution to at least part of that problem, it is surely just a matter of time before this versatile building material is at the forefront of specifiers’ minds.
For more information visit the MEDITE SMARTPLY website