Refurb & Developer Update - January 2024

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January 2024


Refurb & Developer Update - January 2024




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Digital twins in construction: what do they mean for the future of the industry? The construction industry is changing. With modern technology comes digital solutions that improve processes at the job site. In line with this, experts are seeing huge popularity for digital twins within the construction industry. But how does this new must-have benefit contractors and site managers who want to keep a close eye on the data? What is a digital twin? A digital twin is a virtual model that accurately recreates a physical object. They are highly detailed for the purposes of integration, testing and maintenance, allowing the user to apply hypothetical simulations to the model to examine the outcome. Digital twins have become critical in a number of industries as a method of trial before physical changes are made to a project. These industries include the likes of engineering, aircraft and railway design and production, power utilities and also construction. How do digital twins benefit the construction industry? Introducing a digital twin to the construction process in the early phases of a contract can bring huge benefits that outweigh the impacts of historical 2D or static 3D modelling. Digital twins can be analysed at all stages of the construction process, meaning they are a versatile tool which offers a unique opportunity to optimise and streamline processes as the build happens in real time. Because of the interactive nature of a digital twin, these tools can be used to predict bottlenecks for fleet machinery, groundworks challenges and more. They can also help to manage the resource at the site itself to ensure each machine is optimised, helping projects keep to schedule and potentially lowering costs. How to build a digital twin As the industry looks to improve digital processes and onboard tech solutions to age-old problems, opportunities to build digital twins are growing. At Smart Construction, experts work with partners on an ongoing basis to build digital twins that offer bespoke solutions. Deputy General Manager Richard Clement explains: “We want to understand every job site we work with in order to build a solution that answers their questions. Data must be clear in order to offer benefits to the user: by offering insights which are valuable to the customer, they can make

changes to optimise the way they run their business.” Using a range of tools, Smart Construction solutions build digital twins, harnessing drone technology, retrofit equipment to track fleet movements and payload, and more. For more information on Smart Construction and the solutions available, please visit


Advanced Knee Protection on site. Peter Dumigan, managing director of the Hultafors Group UK, which owns Snickers Workwear, Hultafors Tools, Solid Gear and Toe Guard safety footwear writes: Hard-working craftsmen and women put more pressure on their knees than many top athletes. That’s why the risk of knee injuries is far higher among trade professionals and manual workers than other occupations.1 Knee injuries are common in the workplace. Sore and swollen knee joints are something that most tradesmen and women suffer from at one time or another and bumps to the knee can be innocuous but troublesome. They’re a perennial problem and can be highly aggravating, but prevention is far easier than cure by taking the proper steps to look after your knees. The knee is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body and there are different types of injuries that are of particular concern to anyone who works on their knees for any length of time. The most common ailment is Housemaid’s Knee or Bursitis, which is caused by kneeling for long periods of time and by repetitive knee movements such as crouching down and standing up. Fluid builds up in the Bursa - which is the sack of fluid that cushions the knee joints – causing swelling, soreness and stiffness in the joint.2 So what’s the answer? The most effective knee protection in the workplace is, as you might expect, covered by legislation and PPE certification standards. The EN 14404 Knee Protection Standard deals with the size, forcedistribution and penetration-resistance of kneepads. Type 2, Level 1 protection ensures reliable knee protection for workers in a mobile working environment that involves regular kneeling to perform their job. This protection level is designed to protect the knees in all types of working environments where you find rough, hard and damp surfaces as well as ground debris up to 1 cm thick. The Type 2, Level 0 standard designates effective knee protection for those people who need to work on their knees indoors – but only occasionally.3 There have been various types of knee protectors available over the years such as inflexible strap-on pads that cut into the back of your knees, causing bruising and potentially impeding blood circulation. Effective protection really only comes from combining properly designed Work Trousers that

use market-leading fabric technology with a knee protection system that has been thoroughly tested, manufactured and certified using materials that perform to the highest standard day in, day out. The most effective kneepads are those that work efficiently and in tandem with the design of the Work Trousers they’re used with - staying in precisely the right position all the time to ensure reliable and comfortable knee protection. Effective kneepads should also feature hardwearing materials on the outside edges and softer materials in the centre to combine efficient pressure distribution and protection against sharp and rough objects with maximum comfort. The design should also feature high sides to prevent your knees from sliding off the kneepads. This design approach will also ensure the kneepads extremely flexible when you walk, while closing around your knees when you kneel down. Kneepads that stay in position around the knee is crucial and that’s exactly what you get with the patented Snickers Workwear KneeGuard™ and KneeGuard Pro positioning systems which are complimented by 8 types of kneepads designed for a variety of trades and the demands of different working environments. Properly designed and certified Trousers and Kneepads will have a pocket design that has special seams which allow the wearer to adjust the kneepads for individualised comfort and protection. Such a design makes the kneepads ‘flex’ when you walk, which also ensures they automatically mould around your knees when you kneel down. Most workwear manufacturers supply kneepads for their Work Trousers and they vary in price, quality and effectiveness. It will come as no surprise to most that some have no guarantee of comfort or protection. However, the more discerning professional tradesmen and women – those particularly concerned with their health and welfare on site – will invest in ‘active’ kneepads that are proven to last and protect. The top-performing ‘active’ kneepads take cutting-edge knee protection to a completely new level with materials like the revolutionary D3O® compound.

1) Hultafors Group UK, , accessed 11th February 2023. 2) Dr Colin Tidy and Dr Laurence Knott, ,, accessed 11th February 2023. 3) Hultafors Group UK,, accessed 11th February 2023.


D3O® is the world’s best impact protection material with a variety of sports and outdoor activity applications.4 It’s an active and specially engineered rubbery material comprising intelligent molecules which ‘flow’ with you as you move. On shock they lock together to absorb the impact energy which provides high-frequency protection. The durable D3O® material also features an extremely slow compression rate, ensuring that the kneepads keep their shape during hard work and for long periods of time. What’s more, given that knees are not flat, the ergonomics of D3O® kneepads is important in providing continuous comfort around the profile of your knee. So when you work a lot on your knees, the marketleading D3O® Kneepads will give you by far the best, long lasting knee protection available. So when you’re buying Work Trousers and especially the Kneepads, look for the ones that are tested and certified for performance, efficiency and protection to deliver marketleading comfort and wellbeing day in day out.

Getting more information on the Snickers Workwear clothing range is easy. You can call the Helpline on 01484 854788; check out and download a digital catalogue or email 4) D3O®,, accessed 11th February 2023.


CONCERN OVER FUTURE DEMAND The Construction Products Association Autumn forecasts reports states that construction output remains on forecast to fall by 6.8% during 2023. The two largest construction sectors contributing to this fall is private new housing and private house repair (r&mi), maintenance and improvement. In 2024 the forecast is for a further drop of 0.3% in construction output. The reasons given for the slowdown is the UK’s slower economic growth and high interest rates. A recovery in private housing and new build and r&mi is not due until 2025. Meanwhile the CAB Q3 State of Trade Survey (SoT) demonstrates that aluminium fenestration seems to have remained reasonably buoyant during 2023 with members remaining busy and positive about historic sales and future demand. This can be attributed to at least two factors. Firstly, some projects already out of the ground will continue to be built with fenestration requirements lagging from starts by eighteen months to two years. Secondly, the growth in aluminium in the home improvement market continues apace as households with greater disposable income improve using aluminium based products as opposed to the use of other materials. Reviewing any fenestration trade magazine today emphasises the interest in aluminium. Commercial and Industrial output remains strong which is where aluminium fenestration products are traditionally used. ‘Historic Sales Volume’s have dipped for Members of CAB, for the first time in the last twelve months. This follows the wider construction output reporting a drop of -47% on net balance in the Q2 2023. The annual drop in historic sales for Members is just -5% on net balance, but nevertheless, indicates a crucial drop in demand. CAB Members remain much more positive about trade than the wider construction supply chain. ‘Expected Sales Volumes’ reported by Members has decreased significantly from a high of 77% on net balance in Q1 2023 to -6% on net balance forecast for the last quarter in 2023. Important to note that the Membership still see the full year ahead as a positive growth with 39% on net balance indicating sales growth into 2024. This is favourable against the slight drop in forecasted sales from the construction supply chain of just -6% on net balance. ‘Sales Volumes - Quarter-on-Quarter’ views are mixed with 37% of Members reporting no change

between Q2 and Q3, 47% stating a drop in sales and only 16% reporting growth between the two quarters. ‘Sales Volumes - Year-on-Year’ are a little more polarised with just 11% of members stating no change, 48% stating a drop in sales and 43% reporting growth between the two years. With the years previous three quarters results showing growth in sales, the sales volumes again indicate a slowdown in demand. ‘Historic Unit Costs’, whilst softening during the last twelve months have risen in Q3 showing on net balance a greater increase than the wider construction supply chain for both quarterly and annual costs. Whilst aluminium costs have remained fairly level in the last six months, increases in labour costs will increase unit costs at the gate. There remains a crucial skills shortage in the fenestration industry as it carries an older demographic compared to other construction industries. As expected, ‘Cost Factors’ indicate that 84% of Members on net balance report this as the greatest cost factor. This has remained constant throughout 2023 only superseded in Q4 2022 by ‘Energy Costs’. The rise in living costs and mortgages coupled with a skill shortage puts experienced people at a premium who can negotiate increases in salary. It comes as no surprise that when we look to ‘Likely Constraints on Activity Over the Next twelve Months’ that we see 89% of respondents claiming that demand is the likely constraint on business moving forward. Whilst demand has always been at a high level over the last twelve months, this is its highest report figure to date. Reported ‘Labour Costs’ remain high on net balance from Members, over twice that of the wider Construction supply chain, reinforcing the lack of an experienced labour pool. Members ‘Capital Investment’ on net balance has reduced in the year ahead compared to the previous year. Only Customer Research’ shows an increase in spend for the year ahead. The full report is available to CAB Members. Please contact me at CAB if you are considering joining CAB.




Supply chain improvements and reduction in demand is leading to lower costs Largest online metal supplier, metals4U, provides industry predictions for 2024

Having recently seen the first drop in raw materials costs since September 2020, experts at the UK’s largest online metal supplier are offering their predictions for the industry in 2024. 2023 saw the first signs of a fall in the cost of metals. A decrease in demand has seen the forecasted price deflation come to fruition, meanwhile, the ongoing unsteady economic situation in the UK has solidified this. Paul McFadyen, Chairman at metals4U, has provided his commentary on each of the predictions for 2024 and how he sees them affecting those within the industry next year. 1) Raw materials to go down in price With supply chain disruptions and increased demand hitting the industry after the pandemic, a steadier supply of raw materials should now start to consistently drive prices down. “We’ve already seen green shoots in the cost of materials. The period between June and August 2023 saw an average drop of 1.6% in the cost of raw materials compared to the previous year, and this trend looks likely to continue into 2024. Prior to this drop in June, it had been 21 months, in September 2020, when prices last dropped across the board.” 2) The skills gap will only worsen The government has promised to invest in major construction developments by 2027, but the Construction Industry Training Board estimates that an additional 225,000 workers will be needed by this time. “There are genuine concerns about the future of the workforce when it comes to tradespeople and those within construction. Despite some real positives in government-supported developments, not enough young people are seeing construction trades as a career. Additionally, the fact that one-third of the current trade workforce is over 50 and expected to retire within the next ten years, there won’t be enough staff to meet the need.” 3) The north is set to prosper In 2024 and 2025, construction markets in the north of England look set to outperform London and the south. This is all as a result of the government Levelling Up Fund, with £2.3 billion being shared amongst schemes in the second round of investment.

“As a northern company, it’s great to see the potential, for the north of England, to really benefit from Levelling Up. There are some very exciting projects lined up, including Eden Project North in Morecambe, a new AI campus in Blackpool and regeneration in Gateshead, amongst others. Altogether, this signals a promising boom for northern construction.” 4) Residential construction to slow, industrial to speed up The housing market is in a difficult position and housing prices are dropping, meaning workload in the residential sector is suffering. However, changes to the National Planning Policy Framework could see volume housebuilders hit the hardest. This means that the supply of development land for residential homeownership could be reduced over the medium term. However, reform of property regulations and improved post-Grenfell safety may increase the appetite for build-to-rent developers for city centre high-rises. “A general slowdown of the housing market, affected by high interest rates and new planning rules, has naturally reduced the demand for outof-town developments. This means that industrial construction, such as that supported by the Levelling Up Fund, and city centre developments could thrive.” For more information on metals4U, as well as aluminium, mild and stainless steel and more construction materials, visit


SYDENHAM TRADESPERSON WINS £38,000 VAN FROM HOWDENS Kimberley Ferguson from Sydenham, South-East London, has won a brandnew Ford Transit Van worth over £38,000 after winning a competition run by the UK’s number one trade kitchen supplier, Howdens. The competition ran between 4th September and 28th October nationwide. Any Howdens trade account customer who placed an order with a minimum value of £300 excluding VAT, including a Lamona appliance, was automatically entered into the prize draw to win the van. The top prize was a fully taxed 2023 Ford Transit 350 Van worth over £38,000, with an additional £500 put towards insurance. Howdens also offered ten runner-up prizes of £1,000 trade account credit. Winner Kimberley of Bespoke Finishing Touches Ltd said: “Wow! This is a huge prize to win, and I can’t believe that I won.

The business is a real family affair with my dad, Tony, being the one who fits the kitchens, so he’ll be the lucky one that gets to drive our new van! Having help towards the insurance is also a huge bonus, so thank you Howdens.” Howdens Sydenham Depot Manager, Paul Clarke adds: “Kimberley and Tony are much-valued customers, so we’re over the moon that they have won Howdens nationwide competition. It is great that the company continues to work in partnership and support local builders in this way. It has been a real pleasure to hand over the keys to Kimberley and Tony and to see how happy it has made them!” Howdens’ range of Lamona appliances have products that address the demand for kitchen appliances that deliver on quality, style, versatility, and performance. With cooking, refrigeration, and laundry products in the range there is an appliance for every kitchen no matter the style or budget. Each product has developed and designed by a leading team of experts, undergoing rigorous in-house testing to ensure the highest quality. With a three-year guarantee across the full range as standard; Lamona offers an enhanced offering compared to the industry standard of just two years. Howdens also offers an industry-leading aftersales service on Lamona appliances, working with local engineers to deliver quick and accessible repairs. To find out more about Howdens visit


FUTURE Designs redoubles its environmental efforts FUTURE Designs, the UK-based lighting designer & manufacturer, is redoubling its environmental efforts with the expansion of the carbon careful™ initiative and the commitment to supplying Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for its core product range. Sustainability has been central to FUTURE Designs manufacturing processes for many years, and it continues to lead the way in the circular economy for the lighting sector. It does this through the highly praised carbon carefulTM initiative, which ensures a second life for pre-used luminaires, in keeping with the mantra to ‘reuse rather than recycle.’ Within the carbon careful™ initiative, FUTURE Designs renews luminaires with the latest LED technology transforming them into highly energy efficient, carbon saving products, prolonging the lifespan, and drastically reducing carbon usage and overall costs. FUTURE Designs is now excited to bring carbon careful™ to the wider market. With a shift in attitudes within the construction industry towards the circular economy, there is greater interest and demand for re-use and repurposing as opposed to recycling. FUTURE Designs is now expanding its reach and actively offering the service to other lighting manufacturers who have the desire to act responsibly but may not have the facilities and expertise for this process. Future Designs is dedicated to supplying Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for its core product range. As one of the pinnacle lighting manufacturers for the UK and UAE it is leading the way in providing EPD analysis for its product portfolio. FUTURE Designs has committed time and budget over the long term to the EPD certification process. As well as procuring BRE EPD software, FUTURE Designs is completing EPDs for its core product range, working with BRE to have them completed by the end of Q4 2023, with the rest of the company’s product offer due to be submitted for certification in due course. FUTURE Designs can also now complete a life cycle analysis for bespoke

or retrofit products. FUTURE Designs has already completed the Carbon Trust accreditation and representation on its Energy Technology List. David Clements, FUTURE Designs’ Chief Executive said: “This is yet another chapter in the story of our commitment. As the world is faced with a growing necessity to Refurbish, Reuse and Restore, FUTURE Designs is leading the way with the hope that more organisations will follow suit.” “We continue the environmental drive that links our investment in the EPD software and the carbon carefulTM initiative, looking beyond the compliance requirements to develop meaningful, positive impact on our environment and protecting the earth’s scarce resources.”


2 IN 5 CONSTRUCTION WORKERS ADMIT WORKING FROM HEIGHT REGULATIONS ARE BEING BROKEN, ACCORDING TO NEW RESEARCH New research has revealed that 2 in 5 (42%) construction workers regularly break health and safety rules because they view them as unnecessary. The study1, commissioned by Phoenix Health & Safety, surveyed 1,500 participants UK wide to uncover which health and safety regulations are most commonly broken in workplaces and why. 2022 data from HSE shows that 36.8 million working days were lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury2, painting a sobering picture of the current state of health & safety in all workplaces.

42% of construction workers see health & safety rules as unnecessary

38% of construction workers think their business struggles with reporting incidents to superiors

Working f rom height regulations were most commonly broken, but carry the highest level of safety risk

Phoenix Health & Safety has gathered insightful data to better understand why people are willing to cut corners in construction, and how businesses should take action to reduce the risk of future workplace accidents. The most common reasons health and safety regulations are broken in construction are: 1.

Employees see the rules as unnecessary (42%) 2. People think the risk does not seem great enough to need the rules (37%) 3. Bad habits becoming commonplace (29%) 4. To speed up work (23%) 5. People being unaware that the rule existed (20%) 6. A workplace culture that the rules could be bent or broken (20%) Discussing the results, Nick Higginson, CEO of Phoenix Health & Safety, shares: “By looking at these results we can see that a major reason why regulations are being broken is a poor understanding of the rules and why they’re in place, with over two-fifths (42%) of people seeing rules as unnecessary.”

In addition, almost two-fifths (37%) of construction workers believe workplace health & safety risks are not perceived as being great enough and close to a third (29%) admitted that bad habits had become commonplace. Nick explains: “It is easy to forget the importance of regulations and fall into bad habits if they’re not addressed on a regular basis. This is why frequent training is imperative to ensure employees have an up-to-date understanding of all health and safety measures in place and why they matter.” Continue reading this article on our website >>>



LONDON’S BUILD TO RENT SECTOR: NEW REPORT REVEALS DISPARITY ACROSS LONDON BOROUGHS A new report has shared f resh insight into the growth of London’s Build to Rent (BtR) sector and how the capital’s planning policies are encouraging this growth. Demand for Build to Rent properties is rising and investor appetite is growing which is driving a marked increase in BtR planning permissions. However, The ‘Planning for Rent Insight Report’ by national consultants Lichf ields has revealed that planning policy across all boroughs is mixed and could do far more to provide a comprehensive or consistent basis for the delivery of new London BtR schemes. A key finding highlights a stark inconsistency in how BtR is addressed in Local Plan policy across the capital. Of the 35 local planning authorities in London, 46% make no reference to BtR in their emerging or adopted Local Plans. The London Plan provides a strong policy foundation for BtR developments, but the support isn’t always echoed at the local borough level. Almost half (45%) of bespoke BtR sites are within inner London and 41% of bespoke BtR developments, secured via specif ic planning applications, are in just four boroughs: Brent, Newham, Ealing and Enfield.

“Our study into the Build to Rent sector in London offers a clear insight into the growth of this market and how planning policies are adapting. “It’s evident that while the London Plan provides a robust and positive framework for Build to Rent, there is a need for individual boroughs to echo this support. “Boroughs must adopt a more proactive approach and align their planning policies to genuinely harness the benefits of Build to Rent. “In failing to do so, the BtR sector in London is being detrimentally affected despite the high demand for secure, well managed rental properties. “If local authorities developed a bespoke policy for BtR developments, the sector would become a lot stronger and more stable, helping to meet the chronic housing need in the capital.” The London Plan advocates for greater flexibility in design policies for BtR schemes in comparison to traditional for sale schemes. However, Lichfield’s study indicates that this is not happening in practice. For instance, half (50%) of London’s BtR projects were granted planning permission as Build for Sale residential developments but later managed by BtR operators. The report found that local borough policies consistently fail to differentiate between for sale housing and BtR schemes, meaning applications for BtR are assessed against policy designed for private sale developments. This creates a requirement for each planning application for BtR to provide individual justification, which makes the planning process for BtR more complex than it needs to be. Ben Kelway, Lichfields’ Senior Director, added: “What is needed is a greater differentiation in development management policies and more flexibility in their application to assist in the delivery of BtR schemes. “In particular, policies covering design standards, amenity space requirements and dwelling mix should reflect the specificities of BtR. “BtR policy has come a long way in the last 10 years as the sector has matured and continues to grow. However, the planning system at a local authority level could do far more to promote and facilitate BtR developments in London. “The opportunities presented by good quality BtR developments in the right locations are significant in terms of housing delivery, affordable housing and London’s communities. “With the right local policy in place, the BtR market in London can thrive and, importantly, create a blueprint nationally for Build to Rent housing. “We must push the Build to Rent initiatives higher up the housing agenda, so they can positively contribute to housing delivery not just in London but nationwide.” The Build to Rent Insight report reviewed BtR planning applications which have been approved since 2009. It assessed the spatial distribution of these developments across the London boroughs, providing an analysis of how these development patterns align with policy.

For the full report and more details on the key findings, visit: Adam Donovan, Planning Director at Lichfields, who is co-author of the report with Ben Kelway, said:


AMRO PARTNERS AN PLANNING CONSENT PROJECT IN CROYDON Amro Partners, in partnership with Flemyn, has secured planning approval for the transformation of the redundant Croydon Park Hotel site into a new c.£220m GDV Build to Rent scheme which will be one of the most sustainable new residential buildings in London on completion in 2027.

Botanical House will deliver 447 new one, two and threebedroom rental homes. In contrast to other Build to Rent projects in Croydon, it will provide over 25% 3-bedroom apar tments, catering for families and providing an affordable option for sharers. Facilities will include a roof terrace, gym/wellness centre, cinema/media room, communal lounge areas, outside play area and co-working spaces. A total of 20% of the apartments will be designated as affordable, available to tenants at below market value via Discounted Market Rent and London Living Rent. In line with Amro’s Net Zero Carbon 2025 pledge, the project will be the f irst residential building in Croydon to achieve the highest possible sustainability standards including BREEAM ‘Outstanding rating, Fitwel3* certif ication and WiredScore Platinum – the global digital connectivity and smart te c h n o l o g y c e r t i f i c a t i o n .

Taking a retrofit first approach, the basement and ground floor slab of the original hotel building will be retained to save embodied carbon and minimise demolition and subsequent waste on site.

Located just a two-minute walk f rom East Croydon train station (13 minutes f rom London Bridge, 15 minutes f rom London Victoria and Gatwick Airport) and BOXPARK Croydon, with the highest possible connectivity rating of PTAL 6B, the project will help meet strong local demand for high quality, purpose-built and professionally managed rental accommodation with excellent transport links.

HTA Design, the appointed architect for the scheme, has a proven track record of delivering quality Build to Rent homes in Croydon. Botanical House will comprise two a d j a ce n t s t r u c t u re s connected through a central communal entrance. Key to the design was a cohesive strategy for colour, materiality, grid and componentry, using a variety of terracotta finishes. Although at different heights, the tower and mansion block will predominately consist of the same treatment, while the crown of each building will have its own identity.

Continue reading this article on our website >>>

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Disused Croydon Park Hotel site will be transformed into £220m GDV BTR project

bathrooms & kitchens

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NATIONAL GRID AND STEM RETURNERS LAUNCH SECOND PROGRAMME TO HELP STEM PROFESSIONALS GET BACK TO WORK AFTER A CAREER BREAK National Grid is stepping up its collaboration with STEM Returners to launch a second return-to-work programme. The FTSE 100 business which sits at the heart of the UK’s energy system’s transition to next zero and employs 30,000 people, is launching the new programme today (29 November). The programme, which will help seven STEM professionals return to work after a career break, is an extension of the scheme launched last year, as part of National Grid’s Grid for Good ‘Accelerate’ initiative, which saw five people return to the workplace. The 12-week paid placement aims to help individuals struggling to return to their career through standard recruitment channels, enabling them to access training and employment opportunities in the energy sector. The first programme helped five people back to industry including Tiffany Orton, who took a career break to relocate from London to Warwickshire to raise a family. With 20 years of valuable experience in commercial property behind her, she still found it an uphill challenge when trying to return to her career. She completed the first STEM Returners programme at National Grid and accepted a permanent position in surveying with National Grid Ventures and now works as a senior surveyor within National Grid Strategic Infrastructure. Tiffany said: “STEM Returners prised the door open for me and has given me confidence in my skill set. National Grid has been extremely supportive, giving me time to find my feet, as well as investing in further training which has helped to expand my professional skills. It’s been a great opportunity.” Annual research from STEM Returners (The STEM Returners Index) shows the challenges people who have had career break face, when trying to return – recruitment bias being the main barrier to entry. More than half (51%) of STEM professionals on a career break said they are finding the process of attempting to return to work either difficult or very difficult and 38% of participants said they felt bias because of a lack of recent experience. Natalie Desty, Director of STEM Returners, said: “The number of green energy roles is growing across the sector and there is a hidden workforce

that can help fill those roles but are often overlooked. “People who have a had a career break face an uphill battle to return to the industry – there is a misconception that a gap on you CV leads to a deterioration of skills but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Many returners keep themselves updated with the developments from their industry and have developed transferable skills that can benefit their employers. “We are very proud to be continuing our partnership with National Grid to provide an inclusive platform to bring professionals back to the industry and bridge the skills gap.” Janet Morrow, Head of Responsible Business at National Grid said “We are committed to improving the diversity and social mobility of our workforce across the communities in which we operate and serve. “The partnership with STEM Returners has provided an opportunity to reach skilled individuals who are keen to re-join the sector, allowing us to harness their skills and experiences. We already know that the transition to net zero will create thousands of green jobs, which is why programmes such as STEM Returners are so important.” Since STEM Returners launched in 2017, more than 450 STEM Returner candidates have joined programmes across the UK. To view STEM Returners availabilities with National Grid, visit


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THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILING Connection detailing is an underrated art form, especially on cranes, writes Richard Phillips, mechanical engineer at Casper, Phillips & Associates Inc. (CP&A). In the crane design world, how beams are joined together is called connection detailing and getting these details right can literally make or break a crane. Besides reducing a crane’s potential for collapse, proper connection detailing can also extend a crane’s service life by up to 400%. As we know, cranes experience their full rated load much more often than other structures, such as buildings and bridges. While an engineer might not be surprised that cranes see their rated load as often as they do, what is not so obvious is the consequences of millions of cycles at the full rated load. These consequences are known as “fatigue”. Fatigue is the term used to describe the failure of a steel member below its yield stress due to cyclic loading. By understanding fatigue and implementing fatigue design strategies and concepts, the crane engineer can go a long way in removing the “devil” from the detailing. Poor fatigue detailing increases the risk of cracking, which can lead to sudden connection and member failures. The long-term benefits of good fatigue detailing are longer inspection intervals and less repair work, resulting in reduced maintenance and repair costs. Smooth transfer In the structural crane design world, fatigue detailing is a special class of connection design. Fatigue detailing improves the smooth transfer of loads from one beam to another by reducing stress concentrations. Stress concentrations—also called stress risers—are created when one area of a connection is more highly stressed than adjacent areas. This condition is usually the result of an abrupt change in geometry, especially around sharp corners. ​ Good fatigue detailing reduces stress concentrations by limiting the effects of geometry changes when connecting one beam to another. Many crane design codes address fatigue detailing

by separating connection types into classes based on the severity of their stress concentrations. Historically, stress concentration factors have been found using experimental techniques though advances are being made in finite element analysis (FEA) to approximate the initiation and propagation of fatigue cracks more accurately. This is also true in many of the experimental sensors, such as strain gauges. Modern-day technology is relevant here, as it is with everything else. The improvements of computer chips have been remarkable. They allow engineers to run very computationally demanding calculations that take a computer the same amount of time to complete as it takes for the engineer to grab a cup of coffee from the office kitchen. We can run multiple design iterations and compare results much more quickly than before. This allows engineers to consider more connection details than they could have previously. However, properly setting up and verifying the results of the FEA model is now the bottleneck. An important complement to connection detailing is proper fabrication. On-site inspection during all phases of a crane’s construction is a must to ensure the as-designed fatigue detailing is properly implemented. Inspectors help make sure plates are properly fit-up and clean before welding. Weld inspectors review weld geometry for proper setup and carry out non-destructive testing.


Misaligned transfer Good fatigue detailing extends to mechanical components as well. Engineers must maintain proper alignment of machinery for power transfer to occur efficiently and consistently. For a hoist-ontrolley arrangement, if the hoist machinery is not designed for the flexing of the trolley frame as the crane picks up a load, then the hoist machinery is likely to become misaligned during the pick. At best, misaligned mechanical components are less effective—brake pads do not contact properly, leading to reduced brake torque, shafts become misaligned, leading to larger loads and accelerated wear, and gears may no longer mesh correctly— leading to shortened service life and increased maintenance costs. At worst, a coupling, gearbox, or other component can fail, putting the load at risk of dropping and requiring the crane to be immediately removed from service for costly and time-consuming repairs. Do you know your crane? Knowing that proper connection detailing alone can be the difference between a 10 year service life and a 40 year service life, do crane owners really “know” the life of their cranes? As a crane completes its first decade of service, do owners know the service life of their cranes and can they confidently say how much service life remains? The answers can typically be found in the crane purchase specifications and the crane maintenance / service log. The purchase specifications state the number of moves for which the crane needs to be designed. By comparing the design moves to the actual moves in the service log, a fairly good idea of the remaining service life can be extrapolated. Of course, this approach assumes the crane’s actual service life will meet the specified design

life. However, some of these cranes have design lives of 20 years or more so it takes a long time to see if the design is successful. Sometimes design life is measured in cycles. A crane may perform over two million lifts during its useful life. If the connection designs are susceptible to cracking, the crane is more likely to have higher maintenances costs and may even fail much earlier, than a crane with proper connection detailing. Tired viewpoint Many people think of fatigue as “wearing out” of steel but this is not quite right. Fatigue failure occurs in components subjected to a high number of cycles of fluctuating stresses. Under these dynamic conditions, failure can occur at a stress level that is significantly less than that of a static load. However, if the fluctuating stresses are low enough and in an ideal environment, steel can have an infinite fatigue life. Cracks are a common mode of fatigue failure and originate from initial flaws in the steel. They can propagate from many sources, including high cycle fatigue, poor manufacturing, corrosion, and overload events such as snag, earthquake, or storm winds. The initial flaws may be microscopic or macroscopic. Growth rate increases with crack size so a flaw that has grown from microscopic to a detectable size is well along toward reaching critical size. However, if the steel lacks reasonable notch toughness (a measure of the steel’s ability to resist crack propagation), the critical crack length will be significantly smaller than a steel with excellent notch toughness. An untrained person is unlikely to be able to visually detect the first signs of cracking and may not even recognize a substantial crack. Because of a crack’s slow growth before reaching critical size, an operator is unlikely to notice a change in the performance of the crane, even if they are very familiar with it.



Danish furniture brand Cane-line share the details of their latest chair design, Choice, an innovative product that is flexible above all.


ane-line presents the ultra-flexible chair Choice; designed by Welling/Ludvik, it’s a chair that allows you to conf igurate it in countless ways to match your needs and demands, and alter it if your needs should change. Choice is for those who wish freedom to choose and have a desire to buy more responsibleproduced items without compromising on quality, design and comfort. “We need to be extra cautious and think carefully on how we use Earth’s resources, there needs to be a reason to bring new products to the market. They need to have a purpose beyond being beautiful to look at,” explains the designer Gudmundur Ludvik. Therefore, Welling/Ludvik have in collaboration with Cane-line designed and created Choice: a chair, where recycled materials, flexibility and a long lifespan are the focal points of the design.

Choice consists of few elements, which can be altered in countless ways to match your needs and space. It has a moulded shell made from 98% recycled polypropylene, where you can choose between seven different shapes of bases in either steel or wood, and three different hights – dining chair, bar chair or counter chair. Choice is suited for both indoor and outdoor use depending on your choice of material. Lastly, you can choose between a wide selection of soft Cane-line cushions for the shell, but is also beautiful without cushions, where one can see the beautiful details of the Choice chair. Choice has multiple combination options, use your creativity to design the Choice that matches your personality and space. Should your needs and wishes change, you can easily change the appearance by changing bases or cushions. The Choice is yours.


“It is part of Cane-line’s DNA to integrate responsibility into our design and production. We have taken a big step in a more responsible direction with Choice, and we are proud to present a chair, where recycling and responsibility is part of both production, design and afterlife of the design,” says Cane-line’s CEO Brian Djernes. Another focus point has been to ensure that Choice has a long lifespan, because the most responsible and best thing for the environment is to take care of your things instead of purchasing new ones. The cushions of Choice are designed to be attached to the shell without use of glue and tools. This gives you the possibility to easily remove the cushions to clean it or change it if you crave a different look. “This means that Choice can be altered to changing needs that will occur over time, and thereby has a longer lifespan compared to many other chairs. For example, if you have a chair that has been outdoors for many years and now have worn-out cushions. You can easily bring the chair indoors, and change the cushions and thereby bringing new life to the Choice chair,” explains Gudmundur Ludvik. IG: @caneline


QUORN STONE LAUNCHES NEW HAND PAINTED CRACKLE EFFECT TILE RANGE Quorn Stone, the UK’s leading experts in premium natural stone and porcelain tiles, has launched a new, beautiful collection of hand painted crackle effect tiles, perfect for walls, kitchens and bathrooms.

This affordable patterned collection includes the Flora Wild Meadow Crackle Glaze Decorative Tiles, the Flora Eucalyptus Crackle Glaze Decorative Tiles and the Flora Ivory Crackle Glaze Decorative Tiles. The newly launched Flora range offers a selection of delicate glazed effect tiles in one plain, (Ivory), and two patterned tile designs (Wild Meadow and Eucalyptus). The creative collection will allow for a unique injection of subtle character and personality; breathing new life into a room. The range is available in a high gloss square tile with an off- white base and soft colour palettes of delightful flowers and foliage. The Flora collection is the perfect option for a decorative tile scheme with a vintage touch in the home. The affordable luxury tile collection can be purchased from £54.99 per m2. To see the entire new range, visit:


MAKITA POWERS UP THE HEAT In addition to powering the expanding line-up of cordless tools and accessories, Makita has introduced two new heated base layers to its range of job site apparel. Powered either with Makita’s 18V LXT battery or the 12Vmax CXT battery, professionals can stay warm when working in cold, harsh job site conditions with the new DCX200 and DCX201 heated base layer shirts.

29 With four dedicated heat zones (front waist, both forearms and back) for optimum heat distribution and three heat settings to adjust to changing weather conditions, these new garments can provide continuous heat for up to 33 hours (when used on the low setting with the BL1860B 6Ah LXT battery – sold separately). Both base layers are made from elasticated fabric to allow unrestricted movement, are machine washable and have a simple switch on/off button that is easily accessible at the front. The key difference between the two products is the style – the DCX200 is a simple pullover style shirt with a round neck, while the slip on DCX201 features a half zip with a stand-up collar.

who works in cold conditions – whether outdoors or indoors. The four heat zones cover the front waist, top centre of the back and both forearms, providing effective and welcome warmth that will enable users to more comfortably carry out their work, all year round.” The unisex DCX200 and DCX201 heated base layer shirts are available in a range of sizes, from XS to 3XL and join a growing line up of heated jackets and vests from the manufacturer that are ideal for the colder months. To find out more about Makita and its range of products visit:

The new long-sleeved base layers can be powered by Makita’s 18V LXT or 12Vmax CXT batteries which can be placed in a battery holder attached to the waist belt. Kevin Brannigan, Marketing Manager at Makita UK commented: “Our heated base layers are perfect for anyone


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