Thursday, 16 April 2015

'If you cant join them beat them' !!

As the saying goes 'if you can't beat them join them'.....however is this always the case?

Recently in the highly competitive world of Lightning Protection a number of companies have adapted their business model to ensure they are always well positioned to secure the annual test and inspection of lightning protection systems.

This business model sees companies awarded the test and inspection of lightning protection systems prepared to do this work resulting in a significant financial loss. This approach is then balanced by attempting to recoup the initial loss incurred doing the test and inspection, by hiding the loss in the quotation submitted for remedial repairs or improvements identified following completion of the test and inspection.

So how does industry choose to respond to such an aggressive business model? Well first there are some very fundamental questions that need to be addressed with this particular aggressive business model:-
  • Are tests and inspections being carried out as thoroughly as they should be?
  • Is to much pressure to complete as many tests as possible, as quickly as possible ultimately placed on those doing the testing increasing the risk of accidents/injuries?
  • Does this business model promote tendencies to enhance test results and findings and exaggerate or even fabricating work that isn't always necessary for compliance?
  • Is it a sustainable long term business model?
Whatever the plus's and negatives are, when companies adopt this high risk business model it most certainly leaves them wide open to their competitors who are prepared to work hard and ensure they are well positioned to tender against the test and inspection report in the knowledge there is likely to be a premium added to the quotation submitted by companies operating this strategy.

So if you can't beat them why should you consider joining in this high risk business model therefore;-

'If you can't join them beat them' !!

Friday, 20 February 2015

Concrete Waterproofing - Evercrete Vetrofluid®

Churchill's are pleased to introduce a revolutionary waterproofing product to the UK.

The product is Evercrete Vetrofluid® manufactured by an Italian company called ecoBETON, along with other products in their range Evercrete  Vetrofluid® has been successfully used across Europe & USA for many years but has never been available in the UK until now, so what is Vetrofluid®?

Evercrete Vetrofluid® is a special waterproofing and anti-deterioration product for concrete, its specific catalyst allows the product to penetrate up to 40mm in concrete, both new & old, and to become a waterproofing barrier, permanent and definitive in time. It is a permanent waterproofing system that preserves concrete from the erosive action of water for the entire lifespan of the artefact, it is recommended for application on underground artefacts, bed castings, ceilings, above ground walls and earth retaining walls.

Evercrete Vetrofluid® is colourless and does not leave any films or foils on the surface of the support. Consequently the concrete maintains its natural aspect. It replaces all other technologies (bituminous membranes, water repellent products, impregnating agents) and can be used on all sorts of concrete artefacts and installations, both vertically and horizontally.

It is also effective in negative pressure (up to 10atm), for waterproofing from within or for waterproofing when building a retaining wall or a structure in contact with soil.

Evercrete Vetrofluid®: Characteristics

·         It is permanent and definitive treatment
·         It penetrates up to 40mm into the concrete
·         It creates a permanent and definitive waterproof barrier also in negative pressure (up to 10 atm)
·         It seals the internal porosity of the concrete
·         It consolidates the concrete
·         Applied on foundations and bed castings it blocks rising damp
·         Resistant to chemical aggression
·         It is environmentally friendly non toxic, safe for humans and the environment
·         It has excellent resistance to cycles of freezing and thawing and to de-icing salt aggression
·         It bears the CE marked in conformity with the UNI EN 1504-2 (Certificate number GB08/76012 issued by SGS United Kingdom Ltd)
·         It is marked EPD –Environmental Product Declaration. (Certificate number S-P-00143,

What is Waterglass?

Waterglass is a chemical substance that has been known for centuries and since 1825, thanks to Johan Nepomuk von Fuchs, the industrial production of water – soluble sodium  silicates has been analysed becoming known as ‘liquid glass’ (waterglass). Waterglass, or liquid glass, or soluble glass is nothing else but sodium silicate (xSiO2 *Na2O), where the ration between sodium and silicate (x) can vary between 0.50 and 3.75 on a molar basis. Soluble glass used for applications on concrete has a x=3.25.
The chemical reaction impregnates the porous in the concrete with liquid glass and leads to the formation of a calcium silicate and lye based gel: Ca(OH)2  + Na2O * xSiO2 = 2Na (OH) + CaO + xSiO2

This reaction occurs thanks to the presence of free calcium hydroxide present in the composition of the concrete reducing the average pore section, sealing and protecting them from water and deterioration phenomena.

Evercrete Vetroshield®, in the same way as waterglass, reacts with the cement material triggering the vitrification reaction: the pores and micropores in the concrete are sealed and the concrete is waterproofed, while maintaining its breathability.

Consolidating Treatment

·         Increases the concrete’s a cortical compressive strength by 30%
·         Has a resistance in the negative pressure of 1MPa – ca 10 atm
·         Resists without being damaged to 300 freeze-thaw cycles
·         Reduces 70% of the absorption of water under pressure

Treatment Against Carbonation

Evercrete Vetroshield® is able to prevent the carbonation phenomena and the detachment of the concrete cover maintaining the concrete intact and preserved. In fact, the treatment blocks the passage of moisture and carbon dioxide avoiding the triggering of carbonation reaction

Anti Acid Treatments

Evercrete Vetroshield® resists;-

·         To sulphuric, nitric, hydrochloric acids
·         To acetic acid
·         To salts
·         To chlorides and sulphates
·         To other acids of organic origin

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Solar Panel Farms - Earthing

solar panel farm consists of a set of solar photovoltaic modules electrically connected and mounted on a supporting structure.

A photovoltaic module is a packaged, connected assembly of solar cells.
The solar panel can be used as a component of a larger photovoltaic system to generate and supply electricity in commercial and residential applications. Each module is rated by its DC output power under standard test conditions (STC), and typically ranges from 100 to 320 watts. The efficiency of a module determines the area of a module given the same rated output - an 8% efficient 230 watt module will have twice the area of a 16% efficient 230 watt module. A single solar module can produce only a limited amount of power; most installations contain multiple modules. A photovoltaic system typically includes a panel or an array of solar modules, an inverter, and sometimes a battery and/or solar tracker and interconnection wiring.

The installation of lightning protection to protect these ever growing popular types of alternative energy installations is essential, the first stage of which is to establish the soil resistivity that varies throughout the UK. Once the resistivity of the soil has been established the earthing designer designs a suitable earthing solution to ensure protection against the effects of lightning is achieved.

Churchill Specialist Contracting, working alongside the world's leading authority in lightning protection, Furse of Nottingham offer a complete turnkey solution from soil resistivity testing, to design, the supply of materials and
installation supported by an annual testing programme.

In addition to offering a complete turnkey solution Churchill can offer any one of the above referenced five stages of service with materials delivered next day anywhere in the UK.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Advances in Lightning Protection

In addition to having established ourselves as a respected and trusted specialist within the construction industry, Churchill Specialist Contracting is also accepted as a major force in the supply and delivery of Lightning Protection, Earthing and Height Safety equipment via our unique online eCommerce facility enabling both private and commercial customers alike to purchase a full range of equipment, quickly and conveniently from the comfort of their own home or office environment.

Working in partnership with the industry's most respected leading manufacturers and suppliers which, together with our own house technical expertise born from years of installation practices, means we are able to offer a customer service that is second to none for customers who purchase materials and equipment from us.

In attempt to offer as wide a range of services as possible, CSC Ltd is also able to offer a full range of ESE (early streamer emission) devices and accessories. Whilst it is common knowledge within our industry that ESE devices are not recognised by lightning protection British Standards past and present, it is accepted that in certain circumstances and to satisfy a particular clients requirements, ESE devices are considered an alternative to a traditional lightning protection system.

Since the advent of the latest Lightning Protection British Standard, BSEN 62305 first released in 2006 and revised recently in 2011, providing a lightning protection system is now a complex process.

One common misconception is that the provision of Surge Protection Devices are still optional as they were in the previous British Standard BS6651 which was fully withdrawn in 2008, or that the main distribution board is provided with a Surge Protection Device (SPD) so there is no further need for SPDs elsewhere.

Working with our suppliers we are able to dispel this myth and offer understandable and logical guidance on where SPDs should be considered and which type. In short any SPD must be rated according to the magnitude of the expected lightning discharge it is designed to resist in order to provide the protection of both personnel and the equipment alike. Some devices already built into distribution boards, by their manufacturers, may not satisfy this requirement.

In addition to the main incomer all services entering or leaving a building such as telephone lines, data cables, cctv systems, roof mounted equipment ect, should all be provided with a suitable SPD in order for compliance with BSEN62305 2011 and protected against the primary risk 'R1', identified by the code, "loss of human life".

Friday, 16 August 2013

Lightning Protection... What Lightning Protection?

Lightning protection is built into the majority of electrical specifications for new build projects, and for good reason. The primary risks identified by the latest British Standard, BSEN 62305 2011 are, “loss of human life” and “loss of service to the public”.

By its nature, in order for lightning protection to work effectively, conductors have to be readily accessible to receive a lightning discharge. After extensive design work at considerable expense by teams of Architects, the last thing anyone wants to see is an external lightning protection system surely?

Modern building practices and the vast range of lightning protection materials are such that this need not be of concern.

Provided they are correctly designed into a lightning protection system by an ATLAS accredited designer, the metallic roofing, architectural features, guttering, plant screens, etc together with the steel framework, or steel reinforcing bars within a concrete structure are all acceptable for use as part of the lightning protection system negating the need for extensive visual traditional conductors.

Even where external conductors are required, lightning protection has become so commonplace in today’s construction industry that they can be designed in at an early stage of the buildings conception. Indeed conductors are regularly built into cavities, behind render and decorative curtain walling. In addition, (where the demands of BSEN 62305 allow) conductors can be hidden by rain water pipes, installed below roofing tiles and beneath the surface of the increasingly popular ‘green’ and ‘brown’ eco-style roofs.

Where it is necessary for conductors to be visible there are a variety of different colours of pvc sheathing and clips available to try and mask their presence as much as possible.

The more complex the structure, the more nooks and crannies are available to hide traditional conductors. The more modern the structure, the more natural elements available in their construction which can be used as a substitute for traditional conductors.

Not forgetting the other ‘hidden’ major element of a correctly installed lightning protection system, in addition to structural protection, all services entering or leaving a structure and from any roof mounted equipment, must be provided with suitable surge protection devices (SPDs).

So go on, the next time you are out, try and spot a lightning protection system. If you can’t it doesn't necessarily mean it isn't there!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The importance of annual Test Inspection and Maintenance

The importance of lightning protection has been recognised in the UK since 1985 when the British Standard was completely revised and built into the majority of electrical specifications for all UK new build projects, and for good reason.

It is essential for the protection of our structures, their contents and the lives of its occupants. As such, annual maintenance is a vital part of any systems longevity, efficiency, and our safety, even more so since the advent of BSEN 62305 which was first published in 2006, revised in 2011.

Danger exists not only from a direct strike to a structure from a lightning discharge of up to 200KA, but indirect strikes can cause havoc to our internal electrical equipment and cost us thousands in unnecessary and avoidable loss of production and  insurance claims. 

Annual test, inspection and maintenance is often overlooked when a new build project is handed over to its client, but at what cost? 

•    Lightning Protection is fundamentally installed to reduce the risk of “loss of human life” and “loss of service to the public”.
•    Maintenance of the Lightning Protection System is often a requirement of the building insurances.
•    The electricity at work regulations 1989 states that “all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, danger”.
•    The effectiveness of the Lightning Protection System may be reduced over time due to physical damage, corrosion, adverse weather conditions, or as a result of additions or alterations to the building under protection.

Churchill Specialist Contracting Ltd are a driving force in leading our industry in the correct implementation of BSEN 62305 2011 and are dedicated and resourced to offer a technical and professional service to our current and future customer base. In addition to our range of extensive services, we are dedicated to providing a Test Inspection and Maintenance program which can be tailored to a customer’s particular needs for what is a crucial part of any structures ongoing maintenance.

As a recognised and well respected NVQ provider to our industry, Churchill’s are able to provide NVQ Level 3 qualification for Lightning Protection Test and Inspection Engineers, which has been developed in conjunction with ATLAS, the Training Group and the CITB National Training College.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The dangers of designing an incorrect level of protection.

Since September 2008 the lightning protection industry has been working to BSEN62305. The main difference between this and the previous British Standard (BS6651) was the introduction of a complex risk analysis calculation to establish which of four levels of protection should be applied to a particular structure.  Levels, or Classes of protection, range from 1 to 4 and are dependent on a number of factors, the major contributor being the actual physical size of the structure to be protected. Level 1 is the most stringent through to level  4 being the least  in terms of the amount of protection actually required. This inevitably gives rise to price differences between the various levels at quotation stage.

All Churchill’s lightning protection designers hold an ATLAS (The Association of Technical Lightning and Access Specialists) certificate of accreditation to demonstrate design competence, and are trained in the use of industry specific software to carry out these risk analysis and the subsequent design.

Until our sector is fully up to speed with how to complete the new risk assessments the very real risk is that companies may either through lack of training, or perhaps even in an attempt to achieve commercial gain choose to endorse Lightning Protection designs and installations which are non-compliant with BSEN62305 by using the incorrect level of protection.

For example, a group of structures physically linked together have to be classed as one complete structure and would therefore warrant a greater level of protection (possibly level 1 or 2) at a greater cost implication than if they were completely isolated, where they may only warrant a level 4 for instance.

“Loss of human life” is the primary reason for providing protection in the first instance. The final level of protection based on the information available to the designer is therefore of critical importance for obvious reasons. The responsibility for which, as well as the financial risk to rectify any non- compliance, may well fall on the original contractor or indeed the client.

Something to be avoided at all costs.