What testing facilities do we have at AluK GB?
We have large scale UKAS accredited test rigs. These enable us to test our products in-house to make sure they meet all the UK’s most stringent performance requirements when they’re installed by our customers.
The weather test rig is 5m wide x 6m high to accommodate large scale curtain walling elements, as well as windows and doors. It’s here that we can test how our products will perform in the worst of the UK weather – from wind loading and safety gusting to air and water penetration.
The smaller 3m x 3.5m rig is for security testing. This is where we can simulate the kind of attack that would be carried out by either a determined burglar or an opportunist thief. We cover all the elements of the PAS 24 security test from hard and soft body impact to manual attack, and we also cycle test the hardware to make sure it’s more than up to the operational forces of our sliders and bifolds.
What tests do we do in-house and why do they matter?
For us, in-house testing is absolutely crucial to our programme of product development and product enhancement. In engineering, we use the term ‘Factor of Safety’ (FoS) as a measurement of the required performance of a product against the actual performance and having test rigs available throughout the development phases of a product allows us to make sure that the FoS is considered and adhered to throughout the process. Coupled with the 3D printing technology also available within AluK, it means we can trial new concepts and ideas without the need for heavy tooling investments.
It doesn’t just help when we’re developing new products to make sure they meet required performance targets either, it also helps if we’re required to show that an existing product will meet a different specification. We can actually work live on the test rig if we need to and implement bespoke solutions for particular projects.
How does what AluK offer differ from other competitors?
We have design, development and testing facilities all under one roof, which is quite rare in this industry. Combine our ability to offer a full UKAS accredited test on a standard product or a test on a project-based design solution with our outstanding technical expertise, and I think it’s a market leading offering.
What are the biggest misconceptions fabricators make about product testing?
It’s definitely the idea that these tests are easy to pass. Whether it’s security or weather performance, they represent a real challenge for any window, door or curtain walling system and anyone who successfully achieves a pass should be extremely proud of their team and the work that’s gone into that result. It’s one of the reasons why we display our test certificates so proudly at the Academy.
How do you support customers through testing and certification?
AluK has worked in collaboration with independent testing, inspection and certification specialists BM Trada for many years, and we have a vast scope of products certified under their Q-Mark scheme. All our customers can join the Q-Mark scheme for themselves to access the scope of our long-term testing regimes, and we can support them throughout that process with product training, fabrication and testing advice.
Can you tell us something about testing that might surprise people?
I often say there’s 100+ ways to fail a test, but usually only one way to pass. That one way will have been developed through decades of learning and development; and AluK’s role is to share our knowledge and experience with customers, so that they can get their own products independently tested and accredited as simply and as cost-effectively as possible.