But certification is only one part of the BBA story. As part of the approvals process, construction products undergo rigorous and often lengthy trials at the BBA’s hi-tech test centre in Watford, Hertfordshire. This facility - BBA Test Services – has over the organisation’s 50 or so years grown into a leader in its field, working with home-grown and international manufacturers.
Its in-house expertise is unrivalled, with highly qualified experts in a diverse range of specialist fields bringing in-depth experience, regulatory insight and market knowledge to each project. These testing experts work with manufacturers applying for certification and with those wishing to carry out product testing, as Alvaro Enguita-Gonzalez, BBA Business Unit Head - Test, explained: “It is perhaps less well-known that any manufacturer can make use of BBA Test Services, they don’t have to be applying for certification. We carry out a huge number and variety of tests in Watford but can and do go out to site to assess products in-situ or carry out failure analysis.
“Very often we work with manufacturers developing a new product or making improvements to an existing one. Our involvement forms part of their research and development process and can help ensure the end result meets the required Building Regulations and other regulatory standards. Our clients find it is highly beneficial and cost-effective to identify and resolve issues early in the process.”
BBA Test Services has produced what it is calling a ‘Product Bag’ to explain the various areas it covers. Head of Marketing Wendy Ajuwon explained: “The Product Bag is a visual guide to inform construction product manufacturers of some of the testing solutions the BBA can provide for them. From on-site testing to failure analysis, BBA Test Services is a fully operational, multifunctional unit backed by more than 50 years of experience in product and system testing for the construction product industry.”
As detailed in the Product Bag, testing areas include structural testing, energy performance, security and weather resistance/wind serviceability. For this specific area there are two types of weathering considered:
* Physical involving the breaking down of materials through direct contact with atmospheric conditions such as heat, cold, water, ice or wind
* Chemical assessing the adverse effects of atmospheric or biologically produced chemicals.
Both types occur together and, using weathering chambers and wind tunnels, BBA Test Services can reproduce such conditions and the subsequent impacts at both discrete component and large systems levels. After exposure a range of further tests can be performed to evaluate the performance of the specimens. Cladding, roofing and walling are systems commonly tested within our large-scale laboratories. All tests are subjected to strict quality controls complying with international standards recognised and evaluated by UKAS.