Since the earliest examples of cold formed steel framing found their way into Australian homes and low-rise buildings more than two generations ago, steel has been demonstrating its credentials as the perfect offsite manufacturing material. Technological advances, particularly in the last three decades, have accelerated the move to smarter, lighter, stronger and more durable structural members and components for every part of a building’s structure.
At the forefront of this transformative wave has been the digital design and manufacturing revolution, forcing the reinvention of every part of the manufacturing process. Lighter and stronger steels have enabled production equipment to reduce in size, enabling higher volumes of customised assemblies from smaller spaces. Computer guided manufacture of most components integrates smoothly with the digital space in which buildings are now almost universally constructed.
“Lighter and stronger steels have enabled production equipment to reduce in size, enabling higher volumes of customised assemblies from smaller spaces.”
Ken Watson, Executive Director – NASH.
The fundamental attributes of steel are showcased in this emerging landscape: high strength-to-weight ratio, endless versatility, low wastage and outstanding durability are just the beginning. When a steel framed offsite assembly is designed and constructed, it will hold its physical dimensions and functionality throughout the rigours of transportation, installation and service conditions. It will meet every fire resistance requirement and resist attack from biological and environmental agents.
Steel also connects reliably and securely to just about any other cladding, lining or fitout material from which the secondary building features may be constructed, using familiar technologies.
CASE STUDY: FLOOR CASSETTES TAKE OFF IN SA
Recently NASH Member Maxispan used floor cassettes to accelerate the construction of town houses in South Australia.
Maxispan is a South Australian manufacturer of light gauge steel framing servicing the residential and commercial building sectors in Adelaide. In operation for almost five years, the company’s products include wall frames, floor joists and roof trusses with approximately 90% of projects completed on a supply and installation basis.
Maxispan co-owners, Craig Fleming and Victor Said, are passionate about advancing innovation. The prefabrication of frames and trusses is a given in the LGS environment and it makes good sense to look for ways to expand on the many benefits afforded by steel framing.
While floor cassettes are a far from new technology, the system has been relatively off the radar in the local SA market. The recent increase in medium density and multi dwelling construction in Adelaide, has helped drive the development and roll out of Maxispan Floor Cassette system.
Builders and developers are showing a great deal of interest in the Maxispan system in light of the need for change from traditional building methods given the smaller building footprint, the emphasis on worker safety and increasing pressure for build time reduction.
The Maxispan in house design team ensures quality and accuracy for each project while utilising the latest in FRAMECAD rollform technology. Cassette sizes vary from 12 to 24 square metres, with optimisation of materials and labour a primary consideration. Joists are an open web design made from TRUECORE steel, providing ease of access for plumbing, electrical and a/c services. Floor cassettes are designed with the builders chosen flooring material in mind and wet area set downs and the associated wet area flooring material is built in.
With truck mounted cranes eliminating double handing and additional crane hire, a cassette can be placed and secured to the frame below in less than 20 minutes.
Assembly on the factory floor provides workers with a controlled, safe and efficient work environment when it comes to the construction of floor joists and sheet flooring, thereby eliminating the risk associated with working at heights if it were done in the traditional manner. The factory also provides shelter from the elements, allowing assembly to occur, regardless of weather conditions, during the day or night time as required.
Delivery to site and placement of cassettes are completed by local company City Cranes who are well versed in the safe and practical methods of craneage. Cassette design criteria ensure that the majority of loads do not require permits or escorts. In most residential projects the truck mounted crane can be utilised, eliminating the need for double handing and additional crane hire. On average, an installation team of three can place a cassette and secure it to the frames below in 15-20 minutes; the result being up to 250 square metres of flooring regularly being placed in a single day. This activity would normally take the same team four or five days.
“On average, an installation team of three can place a cassette and secure it to the frames below in 15-20 minutes; the result being up to 250 square metres of flooring regularly being placed in a single day.” Ken Watson, Executive Director – NASH.
For builders, the speed of install is a win. Installation of upper walls and trusses can get underway the following day and the building site stays a lot cleaner and safer as a result of not having multiple packs of material staged ready for traditional onsite construction.
The team at Maxispan is proud to be leading the way in South Australia and is looking forward to being involved in the ongoing growth and development of the LGS industry.■
Ken Watson, Executive Director of the National Association of Steel-Framed Housing (NASH)