Caunton hosts the launch of a new connection developed by the Steel Construction Institute

Caunton Engineering's Works near Nottingham were the venue for a demonstration of the new Slotted Hole Connector System when over 30 consulting engineers and contractors were present on the 17th July to study the erection of a trial assembly, incorporating the connection in various arrangements.

This new simple beam/column and beam/beam connection is in development that could cut erection time by up to 50%. The idea for the connection was conceived by Dr Mike Byfield of Cranfield University and is being developed by the Steel Construction Institute in conjunction with him.

The emphasis is on standardisation, speed of manufacture, speed of erection, site safety and economy of construction.

The connector provides a simple beam to beam or beam to column connection.The slotted connector comprises a T-piece which has two or more shaped slots it its web. The slots are shaped to allow the heads of studs which are attached to the beams or columns to pass through; the shank of the stud then moves down into a narrower part of the slot, locating the supported member in its final position. Stud heads of different shapes, together with the corresponding slot, may be used. A number of variations on this basic theme are available. Shoulder bolts, for example, may be used in place of the welded studs and fin plates with slotted holes may be used in place of the T-piece. The variations have been developed to suite the steelwork contractors' preferences.

To date, the development work undertaken has included:

  • Investigations of stud welding techniques to give the required geometry and tolerances.

  • Erection trials to prove the ease of construction of the system.

  • Initiation of a structural testing programme to study strength, serviceability, robustness and fire performance.

As mentioned earlier,a trial erection of a frame using the new, simple connection took place at Caunton Engineering Ltd, Nottingham on 17 July.Over 30 key opinion formers were present to witness the event and to comment on the viability of the connector. The, normally sceptical, audience were all in favour of the system in principle. Many timed the erection sequence and were favourably impressed. One of the major points raised was that erectors would not have to carry nuts and bolts with them and there would be much less time spent working at height.

Dr Bassam Burgan, Deputy Director of the SCI, said that he was grateful for the feedback from the audience, which would help to shape future development. He hoped a testing programme would commence shortly and be completed within a year. There was praise too for the SCI for getting involved in working directly with the steel contracting industry and addressing the practical problems of best practice construction. Whilst the connection is still under development, the invention marks a milestone in the evolution of efficient steel frame construction. International patent protection for the connector system (and its variants) has been applied for and it is intended that the system with therefore be available under licence from the Steel Construction Institute.

For further information contact:- Dr Bassam Burgan, Deputy Director ,The Steel Construction Institute, Silwood Park, Ascot, Berks SL5 7QN. Fax: 01344 622944. E-mail:
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