Smart connections make a difference

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Smart connections make a difference

In precast building, the best sign of high-quality connections is that they are unnoticed by the end user. Connections are an area requiring special expertise, which is often not available on sites.

The detailed work related to making high-standard connections often goes unnoticed by the end user. That is, if they are well done! Badly designed connections can be out of scale, and therefore become inefficient and too expensive, or they can be critically underestimated, which can result in structural damage. "Pre-manufactured connections are produced in long series, which means that the assembly work on-site is repetitive. Repetition is important for the learning process on building sites. Repetitive routines also help to produce precast connections practically, safely and cost-efficiently with solutions that have been widely tested. Repetitive and standardized work methods are essential in building projects that are required to maintain consistent quality requirements and strict budgetary limits,” says director Raimo Lehtinen from Peikko Group. Lehtinen has over 20 years of experience in this area, with 18 years of development and management work at Peikko.  Furthermore, with standard connections, the costs can be estimated in advance. “Well designed connections help to streamline the whole building process,” Lehtinen points out.

 Standard connections improve work safety

Connections are a critical feature, for example, in shifting loads during construction. Lifting and moving heavy precast elements demands lifting anchors designed for the purpose. This means high-rising, heavy elements do not cause a danger to workers. During the construction phase, smart connections improve the work safety conditions on sites. Designers and architects can take into consideration shifting loads during installation work. As all the phases and shifting loads are known precisely in advance they can be designed and timed well in advance. “Unplanned connections are often figured out only at the construction site, where the biggest challenge is, in most cases, the lack of time and know-how. These kinds of situations are critical points for work safety,” reminds Lehtinen.  “For instance, Peikko’s concrete column shoes and anchor bolt connections are designed in such a way that they are able to carry the final load and stand-alone as soon as they are released from the crane. This means that there is no longer any need for temporary bracing solutions,” explains Lehtinen. Planning, buying, installing, and removing braces always means extra work and extra costs on sites.

They are practical and beautiful

 “The most important thing to consider throughout the building process is the end user,” emphasizes Lehtinen. Smart connections enable architectural and aesthetic solutions that are also practical. “For instance, the hidden corbels make it possible to construct practical connections where additional and unpractical capsulation around connections is no longer necessary. Fastening sandwich wall panels should be made so that there is as little invasion to the insulation layer as possible. Creating cold bridges inside the wall will result in heat loss and wasted energy. This can be avoided by using well-designed ties and loops that can be used both for precast panels and cast-in-situ structures," Lehtinen points out.  ”End-users and their practical needs should be the guiding thought for the whole construction industry,” concludes Lehtinen. Peikko’s expertise in connections makes precast manufacturing and installation easy. On the building site, different work phases can be carefully planned in advance. Standardized connections are part of the complete and smooth process that starts from precast design and continues throughout the lifespan of the building.

Pre-designing for accuracy and safety

For structural engineers, architects, and other designers, there is free downloadable software (such as Peikko Designer) which is designed to assist in conception, analysis, and code verification of structural details that incorporate connection items. Even though most of Peikko’s products are manufactured as standard items with pre-defined resistances, structural performance often depends on the surrounding structures. In addition, other external factors, such as wind, traffic, and even earthquakes, can cause load shifting for structures. With the assistance of advanced software it is possible to calculate loads during the assembly phase and after the building has been completed.

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