Bombs, away!

Nick Straughan
06 Nov 2009

bomb-blast resistant façade

In 2009 Alumet completed a £6.3M contract to design, manufacture and install its new product, the Able FaçadeSystem (AFS), on a high profile Military of Defence facility in the Home Counties.

The AFS is the only pre-fabricated bomb-blast resistant walling system available in the UK (Patent NoPCT/GB2008/003167). The system is manufactured off-site, transported to the site in full units and simply fixedon to pre-prepared brackets on the building's superstructure.

Benefits to architect / client - The MoD architects chose the AFS over concrete because they needed to achievemaximum floor space for the footprint of the building as well as achieving project completion against a tightdeadline. The system saved them both time and money with the following advantages:

• Wall panels were significantly slimmer than cast concrete, giving greater floor space inside the building.
• Panels could be erected in frost and rain, giving a massive saving in time and cost.
• 12m2 panels were installed in just 25 minutes.
• Walls were effective as bomb-blast resistant structures immediately without the need to cure.
• Staff, logistics and health & safety were all easier to manage as the majority of work was conducted infactory conditions.
• On-site congestion was reduced as minimal staff and scaffolding were required.

The recent project was a resounding success with the Construction Director from Main Contractors BAM givingthis statement: “The ABLE Façade System has made this project possible and the speed of enclosure has enabledthe internal trades to complete ahead of programme.”

Development - With the increased terrorist threats around the world Alumet spotted an opportunity to enter thedefence industry. It did this by redesigning and enhancing its established prefabricated walling system in order tomake it bomb-blast resistant.

Performance - The AFS has passed rigorous blast tests at a testing facility at Spadeadam. The system passedwith flying colours, achieving a test result exceeding project specific blast requirements by 20%.

Market - There is a potential worldwide market for the system to be used on a range of important buildingsincluding MoD installations, law courts and embassies. It’s also suitable for buildings in the vicinity of theselocations and other areas of mass congregation.

Design - The AFS is highly versatile and can be clad in a variety of aesthetically pleasing products includingaluminium, brass, zinc, copper, terracotta and timber allowing it to suite a range of design tastes and fashiontrends. The finished buildings looks like any normal commercial units - gone are the days when fortifiedbuildings have to look like concrete bunkers!

Environmental - The AFS benefits from the following environmental credentials:

• All steel is combination of virgin and recycled and is cut to order to reduce waste.

• Design incorporates 100mm Kooltherm K15 waterproof insulation, giving a ‘u’-value of 0.25 W/m2K.

• Design allows for further insulation if required.

• Cladding is made of recyclable steel and aluminium or FSC timber.

• Emissions produced from production are significantly less than those produced from the concretealternative (the manufacturing of concrete is one of the most polluting processes in construction).

• Easy to recycle as components can simply be dismantled and reused.

Key Facts

United Kingdom
Product type

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