05 October 2021
By Thomas Holland-Letz, Technical Director of Construction Fixings Europe (CFE)
ETAs in the fastening industry are often driven by customer demands. Based on the information contained in the ETA, specifiers, designers and contractors can safely and efficiently select the most suitable fasteners for their project, for example in terms of actions, exposure classes or lifetimes. This helps to ensure safe applications.
Europe benefits from a very high level of construction safety. In the fasteners industry, ETAs play a certain role in this regard. For example, I am not aware of any serious accidents related to repair breakdowns in Europe, while such incidents have been reported in other markets, such as the United States and Japan.
The independent European technical assessment thus guarantees a high degree of reliability of the information on the performance of the product. The product performance specification in the ETA is also aligned with the design methods of the relevant Eurocode (EN 1992-4), which facilitates the use of anchor products across Europe. This possibility for customers to compare the performance of fasteners across the domestic market often stimulates investment in new or improved products.
In addition, ETAs enjoy great recognition that goes beyond the borders of Europe. In addition, the ETA path to CE marking provides a level playing field for anchors made in Europe (mainly by SMEs) and products from countries where the cost of labor is much cheaper, ensuring competition based on performance and identical evaluation. and inspection procedures.
Seismic applications are an example of agile evaluation of innovative products. As a result of the modification of existing EADs and the development of new EADs, there are now CE marked anchors based on an ATE, suitable for seismic areas. This has significantly broadened the scope of these fasteners, putting manufacturers in a better position to sell their products. All the more so as seismic requirements have been introduced in certain regions of Italy, France and even Germany.
Product performance data based on ETAs and corresponding design methods are the basis for reliable fastening. ETAs provide performance data for individual anchor products under various conditions (eg regarding concrete types, temperature, etc.). Design methods translate this Individual Product Performance (ETA) into actual applications. This alignment of ETAs and design standards provides an ideal basis for a safe and rapid service life required in customer specifications was 100 years.
The European manufacturers concerned have submitted new ETA requests. The EADs were changed and the products re-evaluated to the same level of safety in time for manufacturers to participate in the tender. The speed and agility of EAD development have enabled manufacturers to opt for a European-wide assessment solution instead of national approvals or expert opinions, which would not have been valid. just in France.
In the context of the upcoming revision of the CPR, the proven EAD / ETA path to CE marking is also being explored. If the system were significantly changed, the resources and efforts devoted to the development of new fasteners in the EU would be significantly reduced. This reduced speed could also negatively impact other objectives and developments in the construction sector, such as industrialized manufacturing, the renovation wave or BIM.
Of course, the EAD / ETA path to CE marking should be further improved and streamlined. Particular attention should be paid to increasing transparency and above all to reducing complexity. For example, for small and medium-sized enterprises, it would be extremely useful for EADs to have a modular structure suitable for SMEs. There could be a “base EAD” covering all the features that are typically needed – plus compatible add-ons, eg for seismic features. Clear rules on change management and clear benchmarks would, of course, be essential for this to work.
Limiting the validity of ETAs to five years, as was the case under the Construction Products Directive, would also help to increase the reliability of the system by ensuring that ETAs remain state-of-the-art. Other important measures include improving quality control and cooperation between technical assessment bodies on EADs and implementing some kind of quality monitoring for TEAs.
An important aspect, which must be maintained, is the confidentiality of the development of the EAD. This principle allows innovative small and medium-sized enterprises to develop assessment procedures for new products or new applications of existing products in close cooperation with a technical assessment body and experts from universities, without the need to disclose and discuss their knowledge in a CEN working group, where most of the bigger competitors are represented.
Finally, the simplification of CE marking and declarations of performance for ETA products will be relevant improvements for a revised CPR.
Construction Fixings Europe (CFE) is a sub-association of the European Tool Committee which represents the main European manufacturers of metal, plastic, glue anchors, direct fasteners and drills for concrete and masonry. Its members come from Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland and the United Kingdom. Most of the companies involved in Construction Fixings Europe hold one or more ATEs for their anchorages, while CFE experts participate in several EOTA anchor specific working groups.