Struggling with compliance? Or feeling the pinch of the skills shortage? AFS’s construction innovations could help.
The construction industry is evolving rapidly to keep pace with demand and the shortage of skilled construction workers.
According to the 2022 Arcadis Construction Costs Index Report, construction vacancies have risen by 80 per cent since late 2019. By 2023, there will be more than 100,000 unfilled roles in the construction sector. Arcadis also predicts this will be almost 50 per cent greater than the number of people qualified to fill these vacancies.
Meeting compliance requirements, as well as finding innovative ways to achieve time and cost savings, have also been major trends in recent years.
As a leader in load bearing permanent formwork solutions for external and internal reinforced concrete walls, CSR’s AFS Systems has spearheaded three major construction innovations and developments to help engineers navigate some of these challenges.
Addressing compliance issues with new verification methods
There has always been a strong focus on building code compliance in the construction industry.
But Stephen Nash, Senior Building Systems Engineer at AFS, said the scrutiny on compliance, especially within structural and fire compliance, has never been greater than today.
“The focus on compliance has been well-deserved and necessary, but it has meant that it’s become quite difficult to ensure compliance in some parts of the industry.”
In response to this challenge, AFS continues to launch new solutions to support the positive location of the reinforcement bar within its permanent formwork wall systems. This is achieved through the use of its specialised panel punch-out profiles and vertical bar locators, as well as its provision of a thermal scanning service.
“We’re now offering that as a service so we have AFS personnel who can attend a construction site and conduct thermal scanning of the walls to assist in identifying that they’ve been installed correctly,” Nash said.
If the personnel pick up on any voids in the walls, AFS provides a comprehensive report to the builder and installer, identifying the location of voids and providing feedback on the steps required to fix them. This provides a comprehensive end-to-end solution to support the customer.
“The installer used to pour the concrete at the top of the panels, while an installation personnel would be tapping the wall at the bottom of the panels to confirm that it was full,” said Joel Willoughby, Senior Project Coordinator at CSR. “The addition of the thermal scanning service is cost-effective, efficient and assists in picking up on quality control issues early on.”
AFS continues to educate builders and installers about the quality control considerations with permanent formwork systems, such as the impact of using different types of concrete mixes.
“Builders and installers were often using the wrong concrete mix,” said Willoughby. “We’ve been educating them on what constitutes a good concrete mix that is suitable for use within permanent formwork systems – that is, it needs to achieve suitable strength and slump, while not being overly wet or dry so as to achieve a good flow through the walls. This allows the concrete to be suitably compacted and avoids voids from occurring in the concrete.
“We’ve been getting more and more requests for thermal scans throughout the year. This is an area where we are seeing massive growth as customers want to ensure they get the best outcome for their walls.”
AFS’s new columns save time
After spending a number of years trying to develop a faster solution for constructing blade walls with columns, AFS launched its product to market last year.
“The Rediwall system now includes a column panel to allow the simple reversing of the panel clipping arrangement to be finished off with an end cap sliding at each end of the blade column,” Willoughby said.
“As a result, the formwork arrangement at the ends is more stable and the bracing needed is reduced. This simplicity saves time on construction.”
“We’re seeing a huge amount of uptake from builders who are on a tight schedule. They can shave off days just by using our product.”
AFS, in conjunction with the Centre for Infrastructure Engineering at Western Sydney University, developed, tested and evaluated the structural performance of AFS Rediwall Blade Columns to achieve compliance with the AS3600-2018, while allowing for the use of standard end U-bars, in lieu of conventional confinement ties, with a simplified design and detailing methodology.
The use of U-bar reinforcement instead of complex confinement ties significantly increases the speed of installation.
Reducing labour costs with curved walls
Before AFS launched the RW200 Curve Panel two months ago, there was a considerable amount of cutting and manual fitting required to install a curved wall using AFS’s products.
“It was a time-intensive process,” Nash said.
“The RW200 curved panel provides a much neater, cleaner and quicker option to form and construct a curved wall, so it’s a huge enhancement to the AFS solution that we can provide to the market compared to before.”
Another major benefit of the RW200 Curve Panel is that they’ve become an integrated part of normal wall assembly.
“The old method required additional labour to cut and screw panels together,” Nash said.
“Now there’s no real difference between constructing a curved wall or a straight wall.”