Pilot study tests marking system for building cladding

Pilot study tests market system for building claddingAn Australian company has piloted a testing system that can identify counterfeit building cladding, amid a national scandal sparked by fires at buildings in Melbourne.

The DataTraceID system – developed by Australia’s national science agency (CSIRO) and manufactured by Sydney company DataDot Technology, is based on a luminescent inorganic marker that can be detected using a proprietary spectrometer device. It is already being used to protect pharma and food products as well as casino chips.

The government in Victoria has been investigating incidents in which counterfeit cladding falsely claiming to be fire resistant has been used in buildings in place of safer, genuine products.

The probe comes after blazes at the Lacrosse building in 2014 and the Neo200 apartment block in February of this year were both linked to defective cladding – in the latter case the same reported to be the same material implicated in the Grenfell Tower blaze in London, UK, that killed 72 people two years ago.

Concern over the integrity of cladding used in the building trade prompted manufacturer Fairview Architectural to establish how to incorporate an authentication technology into its panel labelling systems.

During the pilot, DataTraceID’s marker was added to the fluoropolymer paint on the Fairview’s aluminium-core cladding – Vitracore G2 – and was 99% effective in identifying genuine panels using a handheld reader.

Using the system, researchers could verify panel source, type and composition data without having to remove any materials from the building facade system, according to DataDot.

“Sub-standard cladding has emerged as a major public safety issue and while responsible manufacturers like Fairview already label their panels, this innovative new security method provides great reassurance to anyone concerned by the ‘at-risk’ cladding issue,” commented DataDot’s chairman Ray Carrol.

Greg Stewart, CEO of Fairview commented: “Fairview has already introduced a ‘traffic light’ panel labelling program and a SafeClad initiative in conjunction with the Master Builders Association NSW, but this ‘baked in’ solution helps builders, certifiers, developers, governments and installers to quickly and definitively verify what’s fitted on which construction.”

Main image: CC BY 4.0:

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