Let’s get physical

Growing concern about building safety is driving demand for more physical testing of fire and smoke systems, according to air distribution and filtration manufacturer Swegon Air Management.

The company’s Research & Development (R&D) Academy in Whitstable, Kent is becoming more popular with consulting engineers, contractors and building clients as specifiers look for greater reassurance about life safety, comfort and energy efficiency performance.

Steve Gore, Swegon Air Management’s engineering manager reported that, despite the increasing sophistication of simulated testing via computer models, there is still a strong case for the use of physical test facilities.

“Computer modelling certainly has its place, but there can be a significant amount of inconsistency between different models even using the same input data,” he said.  “The beauty of a physical test is that you can recreate actual conditions and then show the engineer or client just how their equipment will respond in reality.

“Sometimes good ‘old fashioned’ ways are the best,” he added.

Mr Gore and his team host monthly invitation days at the Academy where visitors witness product demonstrations, including best practice fire and smoke damper installations, and take part in product installation and training. These events conclude with a technical debate where issues around safety and energy efficiency are discussed and knowledge exchanged.

The R&D Academy opened in 2014 and was commissioned by BSRIA, who audit the calibration and operating procedures. The facility includes a fully equipped demonstration area where tests can be witnessed by contractors, consultants and end clients; and now also boasts a modern conference room.

Swegon Air Management comprises the Actionair, Air Diffusion, Naco, and Airfiltrera brands and its academy boasts a 7.5m x 5.6m test room to conduct testing on air terminal devices to the BS EN 12238 standard for mixed flow applications and to BS EN 12239:2001 for displacement flow.

The room is set up to stage testing of grilles, diffusers, linear slot diffusers and floor grilles with engineers able to make comparisons between four-way and swirl diffusers, for example, before finalising their designs.

Aerodynamic testing of dampers is also available and technicians at the academy will also carry out thermal transmittance and thermal release testing in line with all relevant international standards.

For more information on bespoke testing and how to book a demonstration day at the Swegon Air Management R&D Academy, please email: stephen.gore@swegonair.co.uk or call 01746 761921.