GCU works with Stewart Milne Group on first CSIC project

12 October 2015

A proposal for the UK’s first patented prefabricated timber-frame party wall system has become the first innovative project to be approved by the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC).

The Innovation Centre, which was launched in October 2014, was set up to transform the Scottish construction industry by encouraging companies to innovate to drive profitable growth. CSIC provides Scotland’s 31,000 construction businesses with a ‘one-stop shop’ for accessing a team of experts and public support. The Centre is supported by Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and 12 Scottish university partners, including Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU).

The new wall system is the brainchild of Stewart Milne Group, which will be given funding to help bring the product through the research and development stages and onto the market.

GCU and Edinburgh Napier University will contribute to product design and performance validation in a laboratory and site environment to analyse structural, acoustic, fire and thermal performance.  The project has also secured £230,000 government innovation funding from Innovate UK, leveraging in additional collaborators and expertise.

When the product is fully developed, it should become the first patented prefabricated timber-frame system in the UK, with great potential for export. It is expected to have improved whole life performance with enhanced thermal, acoustic and fire performance as well as ease of installation and cost effectiveness as key benefits.

The project could create 24 new jobs at Stewart Milne Group, due to the creation of two new production lines to manufacture the walls, which can be used in the construction of housing, hotels and student accommodation.

CSIC’s Head of Business Development Gillian Fleming said: "We are very pleased to support this first innovation project from CSIC, which has also been awarded Innovate UK funding. The outcome will have significant economic impact for Scotland in terms of jobs created and help put Scotland firmly on the map in leading edge offsite construction.”

Alex Goodfellow, Group Managing Director of Stewart Milne Timber Systems, said: “We're delighted that CSIC has chosen to support our next innovation and we are looking forward to working to develop a new and exciting product to bring to market to add to our current portfolio of innovative and effective products. The market is growing and the increased interest in timber frame and offsite manufacture demonstrates the value that the industry increasingly places on new and cost effective ways to build."

Using sensors, GCU’s experts will analyse heat loss and air-tightness levels through heat-flux testing and thermal imaging. GCU’s Environmental Chambers help place the University at the forefront of UK research into the performance of building materials and diagnostic methods of testing material failure. Thermal conductivity equipment allows the rapid and precise determination of the energy efficiency of materials ranging from insulation to dense concrete.

Colin Murchison, Associate Dean of Business Development in GCU’s School of Engineering and Built Environment, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Stewart Milne Group to assist in the development of a new party-wall system that could have a significant impact on the construction process. This project exemplifies the approach of the CSIC as it draws on the specific expertise available from universities which have the knowledge and skills to provide innovation.”