My name is Ian Burnett I’m the General Manager for CONSTRUCT Concrete Structures Group and I’ve been carrying out site visits to get to know CONSTRUCT members on a one-to-one basis.
In February I visited Invisible Connections who are based in Oxfordshire where I met up with Derek Brown the Managing Director seen on the left. Invisible Connections have been members of CONSTRUCT for 6 years and are a valued member of the trade association.
Invisible Connections supplies the concrete construction industry with ‘unseen’ telescopic connection systems for precast stairs and landings, beams, and columns. They are also specialist manufacturers of the FERBOX reinforcement continuity system, to application requirements – a speciality in which Derek has a 35-year association.
Derek showed me around the factory floor looking at the process to produce FERBOX, starting with the cutting and bending. Dereck talked me through the safety procedures and the accuracy specification to ensure requirements of UK Cares approval and compliance with British Standards.
We looked at the automated system where steel reels feed into machines that cut steel reinforcement to shape and size. We observed operatives cutting and bending steel into 2D U-bars before adding an additional bend to each leg of the U-bars, making them into 3D shapes.
Derek and I then looked at the next part of the process where an operative was fabricating galvanised steel cases for the steel reinforcement to sit in. The FERBOX reinforcement continuity system has a key advantage over off the shelf systems as it is made to measure, which means there is no cutting or wastage on the contractor’s site and site workers are not exposed to the safety risks associated with cutting tools. Strict quality control is in place to ensure each component is as specified. The operative in the picture is feeding the flat sheet panels into the crimping machine which imprints a heavily indented pattern into the flat sheets, providing a key for concrete during the concreting process.
Machinery is then used to fold the crimped sheets to form U shapes which are hole punched to receive steel reinforcement. The galvanised steel lids (which are left smooth) are also folded into U shapes and each lid receives a unique label, to inform contractors of exact positioning within the structure, as well as providing traceability data.
Other operatives were then seen inserting the steel reinforcement through the pre-punched holes and adjusting the bent bars to ensure a perfect fit within the crimped steel cases.
Finally, the completed the FERBOX reinforcement continuity system is palleted, wrapped and labelled ready for dispatch and delivery.