A PIONEERING JOURNEY
Peikko continues to charter undiscovered territory in the construction industry in South Africa…
As the global forerunner in slim floor structures, wind energy applications and connection technology for precast and cast-in situ, Peikko Group Corporation prides itself on an almost sixty-year heritage of developing innovative solutions that offer a faster, safer, and more efficient way to design and build. Headquartered in Lahti, Finland, the family-owned and managed company has sales offices in over 34 countries in Asia-Pacific, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and North America, with manufacturing operations in eleven countries. Peikko South Africa was established and became fully operational in September 2018, with Daniel Petrov appointed as Managing Director.
This year, Peikko celebrates the 30th anniversary of bolted column connections, an innovation launched by the company which has revolutionised the market. “The beauty of a bolted, mechanical connection is that it can be done with a small crew on site and no temporary bracing is needed. As soon as the nuts are tightened, the connection is movement-resistant and the crane can move on to the next column,” said Petrov, referencing Peikko’s input into the structural design of Fourways Mall, situated in Johannesburg’s Northern Suburbs and officially opened in August 2018. He said that using Peikko connections not only simplified the structural design but also improved onsite efficiency of work. “By shortening the floor-to-floor construction cycle time, Peikko provided substantial cost savings for the project,” he said.
Peikko’s game-changing product all came down to a question asked by the company in the mid 1980’s: What if we used bolts instead? While it was difficult to get an entirely novel construction method accepted to the market, the design of HPKM® Column Shoes, launched in 1991, offered the building sector a smaller, lighter solution that was strong and easy to use. Introducing column shoes dramatically changed the speed of construction process down to ten minutes for each column. Plus, the need for continuous column support was eliminated; and soon they became the industry standard.
Just the beginning
This innovation was only the beginning for Peikko. Four years after the initial launch, the larger PEC® Column Shoe was launched along with PPM® Anchor Bolts. This combination used even higher strength steel and enabled a higher load bearing. After some success in the domestic market of Finland during the early 1990’s, Peikko decided to take a step towards international markets. As in any industry, exporting and international operations in a new market is always a high-risk action that takes time to produce profit. However, Peikko had an excellent possibility of success at hand as the business competition was still non-existent, and soon the product was introduced to the German market, and Sweden and Norway shortly thereafter. A few years later, in 2000, Peikko entered the Spanish market, quickly gaining a credible market position.
During internationalisation, Peikko focused on learning from the new markets and developing their products. Special attention was given to obtaining European Technical Assessments (ETA) and Conformitè Europëenne (CE) markings. The work around ETA began in 2003, when Peikko started to create standards for bolted column connections and develop standardised procedures to assess safe performance. As new international market areas were landed, Peikko’s position was further solidified. In 2005, Peikko column shoes entered the Russian markets and in 2009, Peikko worked on its first seismic projects with customers in Turkey. At this time, Peikko made its largest single R&D investment as Peikko Designer® software was launched. With this software, Peikko wanted to make designers’ work as reliable and easy as possible and give them some room for creativity.
After years of hard work, Peikko completed the pioneering development of the ETA performance requirements and test procedures for bolted column connections in 2010. Concurrently, the market was growing as per usual, as Peikko entered the APAC and Chinese markets in 2011, and later on established an office in Singapore. In 2013, Peikko reached a big goal: the ETA was granted to bolted column connections, which were soon followed by performance-based CE markings. Becoming the industry standard was officially reality, since no other company had been granted the ETA ever before. But still, Peikko was looking forward, knowing that a world-leading company is always looking for room to improve. In 2017, they introduced the first energy-dissipating, seismic-proof precast bolted column connection and their most recent huge innovation was launched this year, with the most advanced column shoe to date, BOLDA®. With its stronger design and elegant, more compact structure, it is the only ETA-assessed column shoe for higher loads in the world.
Given that the building industry is responsible for major ecological impact, with 40% of total energy use globally and 30% of the global amount of waste, Peikko is committed to constantly improve its operations and sustainability runs along in all R&D and manufacturing at Peikko. In many areas, they have already achieved a lot, but as a global company there are still areas where improvement is planned. “Sustainability is part of business in everything we do. It starts in our operations by reducing emissions and preserving resources, and continues by providing sustainable products and solutions for our customers. In that way, we can do for the environment much more since the real CO2 impact comes through our customers and us. Doing business responsibly with integrity, respecting diversity, and each other, reflects our core values,” said Peikko Group CEO Topi Paananen.
With important choices that impact energy saving, safety and flexible adaptability of spaces made right at the design phase of a building project, Peikko’s DELTABEAM® slim floor structure is an extremely popular choice. With the product, more floor space is achieved with the same building height. The same layout arrangement can be implemented with a smaller amount of volume, so the building’s heating and air conditioning costs are reduced. The shallow design reduces the structural thickness of the levels in a building, which, together with the flat lower surface of the intermediate floor enables easy and space-saving HVAC installations. More than 15 000 construction projects globally have been built using the same reliable technology.
Peikko Product Development team leader Ján Bujňák pointed out that you don’t necessarily have to change the game with every product launched. “But of course, you can!” He pointed out that in an industry as heavily regulated as the construction one, if a new solution is 10% better compared to the old one, that’s already a significant and value-creating step forward. “Given the creative nature of the company’s founder, Jalo Paananen, it seems inevitable that bringing up and sharing new ideas is just part of Peikko’s DNA,” he concluded.
“The COVID-19 crisis was devastating for the sector, and on a professional level, we recognised that the design-and-build method of construction will require some re-thinking and changes for the industry. This is where our products, systems and solutions fit in well in the South African construction sector. We look forward to rolling out our products on a larger scale, knowing that they help with faster construction,” concluded Petrov.