MEDITE SMARTPLY is the market leading innovative manufacturer of sustainable timber panels, environmentally produced in Ireland. Its award-winning building materials brands MEDITE and SMARTPLY are renowned for delivering the highest quality products through customer-led innovation and industry leading customer service in 32 countries worldwide.
We spoke to Head of Innovation, David Murray about how MEDITE SMARTPLY is leading the way in the innovation of product solutions developed to support and compliment modern methods of construction.
Q: What sets MEDITE SMARTPLY apart from other timber panel manufacturers?
A: MEDITE SMARTPLY has forever worked with the simple objective to create products that will solve real problems: meeting the needs presented by real challenges faced by its end users.
The construction industry is being transformed: modern methods of construction are coming increasingly into the fore of consideration as the industry looks to make our buildings more end-user-friendly, more energy efficient, quicker to build. Modern construction products must accommodate the developing requirements.
It is, or should be, standard industry practice to produce and use sustainably manufactured timber products. MEDITE SMARTPLY has worked hard to support this goal by ensuring that all our products are FSC® Certified, and by trying to promote a wider culture of sustainable timber product manufacturing and construction. It’s our view that sustainable timber construction should be the only timber construction.
Furthermore, we produce all our OSB panels with zero added formaldehyde as standard, while all of our MDF panels are developed to comply with the stringent CARB2 standard.
In a society that this becoming increasingly environmentally aware, it is no longer enough to have a certification of sustainable production; increasingly, users also demand assurance that a product not only considers the outside environment, but the quality of the indoor environment it will be a part of creating. BREEAM rated buildings are becoming more sought after by increasingly savvy end users, who care about their long-term high-performance benefits. Buildings also become much more attractive investments because of this.
So, with sustainability and environmental concerns established, we want to go the extra mile and look at how we can innovate our products and services in terms of diversity of range and addressing the everyday challenges our customers face, when it comes to ease of specification and installation, for example.
Q: How is MEDITE SMARTPLY addressing the increasing adoption of Modern Methods of Construction in the industry?
A: UK construction is strategically significant to the UK economy. It represents 8% of GDP and 9% of employment and £150 billion is invested through the public and private sectors every year. As well as its important contribution to the economy, it’s an enabler of wider economic development providing homes and infrastructure to allow the country to work and progress.
However, construction has struggled to meet the ever-growing demand for residential buildings, with supply and demand imbalanced, contributing to unaffordability.
Offsite manufacture and timber frame construction each represent an opportunity to address many of these issues, going some way to improving capacity to meet need, as well as attracting investment into the industry.
Timber frame construction is very much on the rise as a mainstream construction method for UK dwellings and medium-rise buildings. Providing the method is understood and executed to the best standards, it offers an opportunity to make substantial savings in both time and money.
MEDITE SMARTPLY wants to be leading this movement and have developed a number of ground-breaking technologies over the past few years to ready ourselves for increased demand in offsite modular and timber frame construction. We have solutions to all the major challenges presented by the offsite industry a such as fire, moisture, and weight.
Our SMARTPLY ULTIMA OSB4 and FR OSB3 panels, for example, are ideal for wall, roof and floor sheathing applications where a combination of strength and moisture-resistance, and in the case of FR, flame-retardancy are paramount. This can be low-rise housing, medium-rise apartment blocks, hotels and school buildings.
Although widely used in Europe, OSB4 is fairly new to the UK and Ireland. It’s manufactured in the UK to EN300, with key properties being moisture resistance and strength, lending itself to timber frame construction and steel frame construction. We hope to be able demonstrate this through our products.
Q: According to some measures, the UK has lagged behind Europe on offsite. Is it that more new products, geared towards offsite, are needed that work towards solving the problems specifiers face when specifying for offsite?
A: It may be a slight misconception that the UK is ‘behind’ specifically. While it’s true that the UK has fewer offsite factories than some other European countries, Germany for example, the factories that the UK does have are much larger than some of their European counterparts.
Of the 180,000 new houses that are built every year, ten percent are currently built offsite. This number can only grow.
There is a growing skills shortage in the UK, a challenge that the industry must find a solution to. This is pushing the industry further towards offsite manufacturing every year, and provides an opportunity for manufacturers such as ourselves to make proactive, positive, developmental changes and develop offsite solutions that confidently address issues of quality, health and the environment. It’s simple: if we don’t modernise, we demise.
Q: What is MEDITE SMARTPLY doing to lead the way in the development of panel products specifier can be confident in, and that inspire confidence in the offsite industry?
A: All of our research is market led and customer led. We look at both long term and macro-level trends and speak to real customers on the ground—contractors, builders, dryliners, as well as architects—about the challenges that they face every day.
In the development stage, we make sure to examine all relevant building regulations during the development of each product and anticipate changes in demands. If a product won’t meet the regulations, it won’t be made. Our objective is to solve issues, without making more.
For more information on MEDITE SMARTPLY’s sustainable timber panels please visit their website.