Normally, manufacturers decide which market sector they want to target – hospitals, schools, airports, shops, offices or factories – and develop their products accordingly, in line with the tests and standards they select.

However, in some cases, standards which sufficiently represent the requirements of the specifier – or the performance of the product – might not exist. In such instances it might be possible to develop or combine test methods to provide a more appropriate examination of product performance in relation to its end use.

For example, manufacturers who want to turn out the average timber window for developments on a tight budget might decide that the recommendations of BS 644: Wood windows – specification for factory assembled windows of various types will be more than adequate to meet market demand.

Companies choosing to reach beyond the minimum and develop a product that stands out on quality can opt to have it certified. And increasingly, architects and specifiers want reassurance that they are buying a product that works: third party certification gives them that.

Choice of schemes

There are several schemes to choose from, although one of the most stringent is BM TRADA Certification‘s Q-Mark scheme for high performance timber and timber composite windows, launched in April this year.

The three-part scheme requires initial type testing, an approved quality management system and ongoing auditing of performance and production. Its starting point was BS 644, but it goes well beyond the standard by drawing on other existing standards and indicators of performance, including among other things, weather tightness, durability, thermal performance and preservation, calling up a host of other standards.

A similar process is under way for timber doors, in response to a request from Janex, a leading Scandinavian door and window manufacturer. It wanted test evidence to establish the service life of its internal doors for commercial buildings. There was no standard or scheme to measure itself by, so the company turned to Chiltern Dynamics to develop a new test programme.

In-depth survey

Vincent Kerrigan, who led the research for Chiltern Dynamics, carried out an in-depth survey of wear and tear on internal doors in busy schools – deemed to be a ‘severe duty’ application. He also undertook an extensive review of UK and European codes and testing standards, selecting the toughest tests to develop the service life testing programme.

Mr Kerrigan said: “Janex supplied a top quality product, but they wanted evidence that would enable them to offer a service life guarantee, to set them further apart from their competitors. Until now, there has been nothing, in respect of durability, to judge a door by.”

Jens Skåra, technical manager for Janex, based at the UK headquarters in Grangemouth, said: “We felt that the best way to give credible advice to our customers about choosing a doorset product that would last the lifetime of a public/private sector financed project was to sanction a new test programme. Until now, we could only deliver test reports on separate parts of the doorset such as hinges, locks, handles or door leaves.”

Chiltern Dynamics combined test methods, taking a wide range of factors into consideration, to provide a measure of the durability of doorsets and a means against which they can be classified.

The end result is that doors can be specified with confidence for a range of demanding end uses. The standards reflected in the Chiltern Dynamics test programme include DD171: 1987, PAS 23:1999, EN 1191, EN 1192 and prEN 12400:2002.

Mr Kerrigan added: “Chiltern Dynamics is now working closely with BM TRADA to develop a Q-Mark product certification scheme which addresses the durability performance of doorsets. This will provide the added assurance that products consistently meet the performance levels identified in initial testing through ongoing testing and quality management.”