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Hybrid Handshake: Andris Bērziņš, R&D Manager, PUUCO®, Luc Gagnon-Bernier, Project Engineer, and Tomáš Novák, R&D Engineer

Andris, Luc, and Tomáš all work at Peikko in relation with hybrid construction – but in three different countries and in three different roles. How does hybrid construction evolve in their home markets in Latvia, Canada, and Slovakia?

Can you tell briefly about yourself and your career at Peikko?

Andris: “I was employed by Peikko in 2012 and have mainly worked with the wind turbine foundations business and R&D. In October 2022 I started as an R&D manager for PUUCO® Timber Connections. In spite of many years in the industry, I learn something new every week.”

Luc: “My career at Peikko started some 2 years ago. As a project engineer at Peikko Canada, I am mainly responsible for DELTABEAM® projects. Before working at Peikko, I studied wood science at university and worked for 10 years as a project engineer at timber manufacture. So, timber construction is already very familiar to me.”

Tomáš: “I am an R&D Engineer at Peikko Slovakia and started here 1,5 years ago. I have been involved with several Peikko’s recent R&D projects such as THRELDA® Anchor Plate, CUBO Column Cap, and now most recently ROOCO® Column Shoe. Writing technical manuals is an important part of my daily job. Previously I have worked as a site manager and structural engineer in timber and modular housing projects.”  


What kinds of projects related to hybrid construction are you currently working on?

Andris: “I and Tomáš are currently working on ROOCO® Column Shoe technical manual to be launched in early February. At the same time, we are creating a testing plant for NILCO® Wood-concrete Composite Slab Connector to better understand its properties.”

Luc: “I have on my project list a 7-story building in Vancouver, with DELTABEAMs® supported by glue-laminated columns. The building consists of 5 stories of hybrid construction over a 2-story steel podium. This is a university project and 100% subsidized by the government. In Canada, it is very common to build with roof beams and a deck of timber, supported by steel columns. The full wood approach is often proposed for both public and private projects; here hybrid construction is commonly understood as timber beams supported by steel columns.”


How does Peikko develop new and existing solutions for different markets?

Andris: “The R&D work at Peikko is both improving the existing solutions, but also developing something new. Partly product development starts from a customer’s proposal, but often the starting point is a concrete problem that needs to be solved. For instance, timber connections were an innovation from Peikko’s side that help to standardize the industry and speed up the work on-site. PUUCO® product family is mostly a spin-off of the existing product portfolio, except for NILCO® which is an innovation born from an existing problem at the site.”

Tomáš: “Mostly my part of R&D work consists of creating something new. Often, a solution has already been piloted, though thorough calculations do not yet exist, nor do we fully understand the behavior of the solution. By making calculations and modeling we can create new solutions that take a foothold on our product portfolio.”


How is the construction market evolving in your country?

Andris: “All in all, the market is going down due to the recession. Here in Latvia timber construction is slowly developing, and one can see the change in tendencies in the past five years.

Timber and hybrid connections have a bright future – there is not much competition on high-load capacity timber connections for Peikko; the competitors are more focused on smaller load capacity connections such as for family houses. Regulations for cutting CO2 emissions are taking place, and governmental actions, such as incentives and taxation, will support this shift.”

Tomáš: “The Slovakian market is very slow to evolve. However, one can see the rise of timber and hybrid structures. Hybrid timber connections are known, but due to the lack of more complex structures, not commonly used. European environmental certificates do drive the development towards hybrid construction standards.”

Luc: “Things are moving along nicely in Canada. We are experiencing a big shift in population, as the baby boomers are getting older, selling their houses, and moving to apartments. Consequently, there is a lot of construction in metropolitan areas going on. At the same time, we are struggling with a huge shortage of manpower and that is one reason why the construction market is shifting from cast-in-situ to precast.

The carbon-neutral buildings trend is picking up, and some cities are even making it mandatory. This will boost timber construction. Pre-engineered connectors are taking place in the market, and there are high chances for PUUCO® Timber Connections to succeed. Especially there will be demand for NILCO®, because it offers more possibilities than the current solutions. The hybrid construction has found its place and is only getting stronger.”