Masonry Support Systems
The project was a Knowledge Transfer Partnership between QUB and Masonry Support Systems which is part of the Keystone Group. Masonry support systems allow traditional masonry cladding to be attached to the exterior of buildings enabling designers to create modern buildings which can fit within a traditional environment.
This project aimed to improve the understanding and design process for masonry support façade systems. An outcome was to enable the company to increase market share and profitability. To achieve this a much deeper understanding of the behaviour of the product was required and was investigated at QUB. This was achieved through extensive numerical modelling and structural testing in the Heavy Structures laboratory in Civil Engineering. The work was carried out by Emanuele Scarabino and supervised by Owen Coyle and Paul Graham in IGMSS and Daniel McPolin and Patrick McGetrick in QUB.
The project improved efficiency in the design process, calculating over one million design solutions in under 60 seconds. This delivered solutions which used less material. This made them more sustainable. Reduced weight made production and handling of the product easier. The material saving reduced cost, improved the process of installation and adjustment, saving further costs. The optimisation of the design process resulted in time saved by design engineers and factory production, thus creating the time and space for business growth and expansion.
The process of factory production and control was improved and the handling of data was optimised during the project, reducing the time required for changes introduced to be implemented in the factory. This resulted in a more satisfied client and staff and reduced wastage.
Impact of Research
During the course of the project company profit increased by 750% and turnover by 80%, primarily as a result of the advances and developments occurring within the KTP. The output of the project is now used in approximately 90% of the company designs. The company has within two years secured a market leading position and is one of the most recognised and respected brands in the façade industry. QUB has been established as a leading academic authority on masonry support, however due to commercial sensitivities and the value in foreground IP, it is not possible to publish further.
The project won the national KTP ‘Engineering Excellence’ prize in September 2020.
Major grants and funding
Innovate/KTP approx. £190k.
Follow on KTP approx. £246k.
INI Collaborative R&D approx £1.3M submitted Oct 2020 and outcome pending.
Masonry Support Systems at Civil Engineering Research in Ireland 2018.
This project is a collaboration between Queen's University Belfast and the following partners:
IG Masonry Support Systems
LEAD PROJECT INVESTIGATOR KTP Associate at IGMSS and QUB graduate, Emanuele Scarabino working in a KTP with IG Masonry Support and Queen’s University Belfast, helped create a bespoke mathematical model capable of designing masonry support façade systems delivering predicted deflections within 0.1mm with 98% confidence. This incredible accuracy pushed the project beyond any expectations set out in the original plan; the ability to predict physical behaviour with such accuracy has transformed product design with material savings and remarkable improvements in efficiency.
L-R Paul Graham, IGMS and Emanuele Scarabino
Sustainable Development Goals
The efficiency achieved and reduction in material usage has resulted in a product which is more sustainable, contributing to the universities commitment to UNSDG, specially, Sustainable Development Goal 9 Industry; Innovation and Infrastructure. The adaptability of the product provides designers with the flexibility to create better spaces, using both modern and traditional materials contributing to Sustainable Development Goal 11; Sustainable Cities and Communities.
Find out more
Dr Daniel McPolin
School of Natural and Built Environment
Queen's University Belfast
- IG Masonry Support: https://igmasonrysupport.com/emanuele-scarabino-wins-ktp-award/