Petri Suur-Askola, Business Director, Connections, tells us why Peikko and their bolted column connections have been so successful over the last 30 years.
Becoming an international standard
Since I started working in the industry it has become more international and more focused on productivity. Peikko’s bolted column connections make both these things possible. Our customers are familiar with how our products improve their productivity on construction sites, improving the speed and safety of column erection. However, it might be less obvious how we also helped make the industry more international.
The key is that our bolted column connections are standardized – and in fact Peikko developed the standards for the industry. This means that the connections always fit. Therefore, you can use local constructors for the foundations but, if you want to, you can order the precast elements from somewhere else, even another country. Nowadays, it is quite common to transport precast concrete elements long distances by lorry, train or ship. This is only possible because constructors can trust that the connections will have standard dimensions and fit together perfectly when they arrive. Thanks to Peikko, they can.
Great moments in the business
After I graduated, I worked for a large precast company in Singapore for a while. By then, I was already familiar with using column shoes and bolted column connections, but they had not yet become popular in Singapore. There, the industry was still using corrugated tubes and starter rebars, complete with counterweights and bracing. That was in 1996.
Years later, after I had been working with Peikko for about 10 years, I had the good fortune to meet my old Singaporean employer at a trade show. Well, what do you know? They were still using corrugated tubes and starter rebars. He thought it was a fast way of erecting columns and he still could not see why they would need column shoe connections.
I was very happy that I managed to convince him that the Peikko way was better. With corrugated tubes and starter rebars, they typically needed three cranes and three safety teams, because the columns always needed to be supported until the grout had hardened. When I told him that if they used Peikko’s bolted column connections they could do the same work with just two cranes and two safety teams, he was impressed. His company could do the same work safer with much less labour and much less cost.
“It was a great moment when I finally convinced my former employer that bolted column connections really are a better way of erecting columns.”
Another great moment happened a few years ago. We were filming a video on a construction site when, together with one of my colleagues, we got the brilliant idea to just go and do a quick ad hoc video interview with a precast expert who was working there. We quickly scripted it and then shot the video during his coffee break. The fellow in the video had been in the business for 40 years so he really knew his stuff and he was also quite a personality.
The result of our quick idea was a great, informative video. Where better to hear about the benefits of bolted column connections than from someone who has been using them for most of their career? And if you think installing a 6-ton column with 5 mm tolerance in less than 10 minutes is impressive, you should hear the one about the 57-ton column…
The right size of company to serve customers well
One thing that has made Peikko successful in the industry is our people. Our people have the widest and deepest knowledge in the industry about bolted column connections, their behaviour and properties, and the possibilities they offer. And we have a proven track record of solving customer challenges and saving customer projects.
Another part of our success is down to the size of our company. Peikko is the ideal size to meet our customers’ needs. We’re big enough to have the capacity to produce and deliver what they need, and we are small enough to react fast to their requests. Just like our column shoes, we are the right size to get the job done well.
“Just like our column shoes, Peikko is the right size to get the job done well.”
The future of bolted column connections
When it comes to the future of bolted column connections, I think they will be an important aspect of circular building design. In fact, here in Finland, companies have been disassembling frames for years, and some buildings, like riding halls, warehouses and workshops have already been constructed from these reused elements. However, in general, the main problem is finding buyers for old precast elements. Part of the reason for this is that the performance verification processes have not been developed yet. Nonetheless, sustainable, and circular design is definitely going to be more important in the industry. And to me, it is clear that bolted column connections give you the smartest and easiest method of assembling and disassembling buildings.
Another thing is that buildings are being increasingly designed with stiffer columns and slimmer cross sections. This gives you more floor space, but it also uses less concrete, which is more sustainable. This is the direction the industry is going in and we designed our new BOLDA® Column Shoes to meet these needs well into the future.
Reliable connections give you a good night’s sleep
I could end with this nice story. I was talking to a precaster in Beijing about how they could use our bolted connections in their application. Since the traditional method they were using seemed to work well, I asked them, “With all due respect, why are you interested in changing to bolted connections?” The customer answered straight back, “Because I want to sleep well.”
That is a really good example of how much trust our customers have in Peikko products. Once they use out bolted column connections, the benefits are clear, and a lot of their worries just go away.
Want to know more about our 30th anniversary of Bolted Column Connections?
Visit our campaign site here.