Smart SIPs Testing and Product Development
How Smart SIPS Approached the Development Work
At Smart SIPS we have been looking at SIPS systems from around the world for the past five years and talking to other SIPs manufacturers to see how their systems work. We approached the development of our SIPs system from the opposite of most SIPs developers.
Initially, we started off as a client looking to build our own home and then saw a gap in the market where mums and dads were struggling to find the way forward to build a total passive designed home, or in other words a home that requires very small amounts of heating or cooling depending on the climate zone the new home is being built in.
Once we understood how the different systems worked we then searched out partners from around the world who were already making materials for established SIPs manufacturers. By working in this fashion we found tried and proven materials to use in our SIPs panels and didn't have to re-invent the wheel or use unproven MgO skins or unproven panel fabrication systems.
Our Manufacturing Partners
The manufacturing partners we decided to work with are already established in the MgO and SIPs manufacturing industry and export MgO skins to SIPs manufacturers in North America and complete SIPs panels to Europe, Asia, North America and South America.
This partnership of our two companies has given Smart SIPs the ability to combine proven methods with our building experience to produce a complete system.
Product Development and Site Testing
At Smart SIPs we have conducted exhaustive product testing and used a two pronged approach.
Firstly we selected our MgO and SIPs material fabricator and utilised their already proven and tested MgO skins and manufacturing systems.
We then designed our home to be built on our block here in Melbourne, Australia with our own hands. This is the next key difference between Smart SIPs and most other SIPs suppliers.
Most SIPs developers conduct their product testing in a test laboratory and then head to market with a product and system that hasn't been subject to the full dynamic loads of a real live building.
In making our home design, we didn't stop and build a simple single storey home on a level block of land in an everyday street, as that would have proven very little. Our home is a three storey home built on a severely sloping block at the top of a hill.
This is a significant difference, as the wind forces the home is subjected to, are rated to an N3 wind rating with winds gusting at 50 metres per second or 180km per hour. The average home in Australia is built to a wind rating of N1 or 34m per second or 123km per hour (as defined in the BCA Wind Class — AS 4055).
By building the home with our own hands and taking two years or more to get to lock up stage we have been able to observe the SIPs panels through all weather cycles from 44 deg. C days to freezing cold days and nights, full wind speed gusts and large amounts of rain pouring down over the panels for over two years. As if this wasn’t bad enough, we even had a 5.4 magnitude earthquake to test us even further. This has given us the ability to watch and study the effects on the panel system and fine tune the installation methods.
Independent Laboratory Testing
Together with the above research and development work Smart SIPS conducted fully independent laboratory testing.
Once again we went across the world to search out testing procedures from tried and true SIPs testing authorities. We found this necessary as the Building Code of Australia (BCA) calls for a test requirement for all wall systems but there isn't a standard testing method, hard to believe but it’s true.
We chose to use the North American SIPs testing procedure and methodology for our testing authority to follow.
We then sought out an independent testing authority to conduct and supervise the test work. This required us to build a specialised testing rig 4m high and 5m long as we couldn't find any testing companies with a test rig this size.
In addition to having an independent testing authority, we also selected a fully independent certifying engineer to witness the testing and take the test data from the independent testing authority to fully verify the test results against the BCA requirement.
Our Independent certifying engineer then applied test data to the loads of our home to ensure our building is designed to withstand the full rigours of the dynamic loads and dead loads we are subjected to on our fully exposed building site.
In addition to the independent testing authority and independent certifying engineer, we provided all our test data, methodology, procedure and computations to an independent building surveyor for a further check that all the testing and computations meet the BCA requirements and sign off that our system complied. .
By conducting this exhaustive, time consuming and very expensive testing procedure, we know that our Smart SIPs system is signed off by three independent companies and we are fully BCA compliant.
Aditionally, our engineers are truly independent, being that they have no share holdings or directorships in our company and are not employees under our direction, thereby, ensuring we have fully independent certification.
Utilising the Testing Certification
Here at Smart SIPs we have learned that there is a lot more to building a SIPs home than just purchasing some SIPS panels, finding your own engineer and reading an installation manual. This is fraught with danger and often ends up with very costly time delays or rectification works.
This is why at Smart SIPs we won't supply anyone with just SIPS Panels. At Smart SIPs you have to get the complete system.
The Smart SIPs system consists of panel design and placement, panels made to size (not cut from one standard size panel). complete engineering from our independent engineer (the same company that witnessed the testing and signed off on the BCA), Energy Rating report and onsite training with your installation team.
We will supply the approved polyurethane adhesive and specify the nails, screws, nail plates and the complete installation procedure laying out where the tie downs are placed, glueing procedure, nailing sequence and bracing locations.
Smart SIPs also provides a complete rendering procedure and outlines where the construction joins are required. The render must be applied by an acredited Dulux appplicator.
With the inside walls, we recommend the entire Smart SIPs inside walls have the joins taped and sealed and then skim coated with our approved system.