Pushing Change: R&D Innovation Processes in Construction Building Products, the second installment of the FTI Dialogues: Suppliers & Contractors Series, took place virtually on Friday, March 26th. Panelists were Stefan Dewald and Thomas Haltenhof, Schüco International KG, Ron Hull, Kuraray, Sameer Kumar, SHoP Architects, and Helen Sanders, Technoform North America. The panel was moderated by Mic Patterson, FTI’s Ambassador of Innovation and Collaboration.
The focus of the panel discussion was innovation of materials, products, and processes coming from industry suppliers, manufacturers, and fabricators, and contractors. Panelists presented their experience with research and development of new products and the barriers to the adoption of innovation in the construction industry.
Sameer Kumar, AIA, Director of Enclosure Design at SHoP Architects, kicked off the discussion with a presentation on the use of terracotta in facades. SHoP first explored the possibility of extruded terracotta and collaborated with NBK Architectural Terracotta to create an exhibit for the Milan Fourisalone Pavilion in 2018. After that initial investigation, they considered pressed and structural terracotta. Working with Boston Valley Terra Cotta, they investigated a new fabrication process of terracotta through pressure casting.
Ron Hull, Global Marketing & Sales Manager at Kuraray, focused his presentation on Kuraray’s process for product innovation, starting with the idea, moving through different stages until the new product has been proven to be viable in the marketplace. As a laminated glass interlayer supplier, Kuraray developed a new interlayer that has acoustic and structural properties. Kuraray also launched SoundLab AI, global sound estimated tool, based on artificial intelligence.
Thomas Haltenhof, Head of Innovation Management, and Stefan Dewald, Head of the Facade Business Unit, at Schüco International KG, presented the company’s six principles for pushing change. Clear strategies are important to identify and develop innovative products. Dewald noted that a company needs to learn from failures and move on quickly. Once an innovation has been proven to be viable, it needs to be introduced in a timely way.
Helen Sanders, PhD, General Manager of Technoform North America, presented the history of innovation in polyamide (PA) thermal barriers that improve the performance of windows. She addressed different types of warm-edge spacers and thermally broken cladding attachments that improve thermal performance. However, there are barriers to adoption of these technologies in architectural specifications that include a requirement for at least three suppliers of a product, need for a 10-year track record, and building codes that represent minimal performance requirements.
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