Testing leads to understanding, Understanding leads to Safety” Simple effective words which is relevant for all aspects of our lives.
Mr Heeralal Mehta, a leading Mumbai developer is looking out for a suitable new car to buy. His old Audi is almost three years old and its time for an upgrade. However there are a couple of recent developments which has compelled him to look at other options. His wife Shalini is three months pregnant and now needs to travel in a vehicle which has a higher ground clearance. Moreover since he will be travelling more frequently to his in laws place in Surat he needs a car which has more safety features built in along with the comfort. His friends suggested a Range Rover, his associate a Volvo, his wife wanted an Innova. If you were in Mr Mehta’s place which car would you choose and even when you choose one will you not go for a test drive with your wife in all these cars before buying the right one.
Similarly for a curtain wall, door or window for a project the different stake holders will be recommending different options. The Architect will pitch for the branded window, the project manager would prefer to go back to the existing supplier and ask him to bring a better designed product and the finance team would of course say buy the cheapest.
In order to choose the one which provides the best value for money a developer has to understand what his facade’s performance needs to be and budget accordingly. Once the technical specifications are clear then it will be much more easier to compare different kinds of apples on the offer and and choose one ,not end up with a wood apple instead.
A facade has three key parameters based on which it is evaluated.
Air Infiltration: The quantum of air the system permits to leak through at a specified differential pressure is a simple but effective method to measure the energy efficiency of a system. A facade is made of thousands of aluminium framed glass panels which are installed at site in a sequence. These panels are linked together by specially designed gaskets which prevent the air from inside the building from leaking outside or vice versa. The lower the air leak the less amount of air conditioning load on the HVAC system and the lower the energy consumption. Sometimes a 2-3% incremental leak through the system will mean loss of a few lakhs of rupees annually in wasted power which could have been saved.
Water Penetration: In a The primary role of a facade is to prevent the rain water from entering a building apart from making the entire project look elegant and modern. Modern offices and residences have ex-pensive fitouts and furnishing installed for the comfort of the occupants and any water leaking into the building during a rain through the facade into the false ceiling or flooring is a night mare come true. To identify the source of the leak before corrective action is almost impossible and it is only though a series of trial and error sealant work the leak is sometimes plugged. In some of the European countries, they even have manual cradle. But in India, from the word go, the cradles have been power operated.
Structural Stability: Gone are the days when one off the shelf facade system was modified to suit every other building with no major failures. Yes it wa possible to do this when the height of a building as around 30-50 metres. Modern high rise projects tower 100-250 mts over the horizon and the wind loads impacting the facade is very different for different projects within the same city and sometimes for different towers within the same project. A new system is usually designed for every critical application based on certain assumptions while the structural calculations are worked out by the system designer/consultant. How these systems actually perform and how close are the assumptions to reality need to be double checked before mass production as any lapses will result in an unsafe facade which cannot be rectified.
The only solution which has worked time and again is putting the newly designed system through a series of performance tests and study the results closely before signing off the shop drawings for mass fabrication. The specifications presently used by consultants have evolved over a period of three to four decades of negative experiences leading facade consultants and aluminium contractors have faced in projects worldwide. The ASTM BS/EN, AAMA or AS/NZ standards are all designed to ensure the final product which passses in the performance test will perform to its designed capability at the site without any future problems.
The costs involved in getting the facade or window tested is insignificant when compared to the value it offers to the occupier of the building for years to come. Performance mock ups which fail the performance tests can be redesigned and re tested after the corrections are carried out to ensure that only the final approved version is installed and the occupier or developer of the project will not have any nasty surprises waiting when the monsoons finally arrive.
The AAMA and ASTM specifications also clearly define the process for the ON-Site or field testing process y a third party independent accredited laboratory, to also ensure that every square metre of the facade or window installed at site matches the quality of fabrication and installation the facade contractor followed while conducting the Lab test.
Developers today also must factor in the fact that many multinational tenants insist that the proof of the performance of the facade is submitted along with the other statutory approvals to consider moving into the project. With increased media awareness and a proactive judiciary it may no longer be possible for any building owner or Developer if there is an accident due to an unsafe facade.
Mr Heeralal Mehta finally decided to buy the Volvo after taking a test drive in all the vehicles shortlisted by him , because while he liked the style, power and the comfort offered by this vehicle, his wife was very happy with the height of the seating and the safety record of this renowned Swedish car maker.
Winwall Technology India Private Limited is India’s First Independent Performance Testing Laboratory based in Chennai. It has been accredited by NABL for the performance testing of Facades, Windows, Doors and hand rails used in building construction. Winwall Technology Pte Ltd ,the parent company is one of South East Asia’s oldest and most respected testing labs based in Singapore. With presence in Singapore, Malaysia, India, Vietnam and Philippines it has completed over 1800 prestigious projects across the Asian continent. Please call us on +91 98410 20620 or mail us on email@example.com for more details.
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