Braas Monier's successful products are based on a thorough product development, an excellent production platform, a deep understanding of the market and centuries of experience. Central role in all this plays the Braas Monier Technical Centre with locations in Heusenstamm, Germany and Crawley, UK. Trials and testings, the development of special software, the finding and evaluation of raw materials and trainings for roofers are the Technical Centre's main areas of activities. Part of the Technical Centre is also a foundry, where casting moulds, used for the production of roof tiles, are designed and produced centrally. By centralising these fundamental processes in our own in-house institution we have been able to collect know-how and experience in a unique way.
A dedicated team of product designers, engineers and material scientists from the Technical Centre works together closely with equipment manufacturers and external specialists. But also internal local marketing and product management departments are involved in the processes. This way the Technical centre functions as central institution for a strong network of partners. They benefit from the many centuries of know-how and experience collected by the Technical Centre over the years. For example, installers worldwide are trained in roofing training courses for the use of Braas Monier products. Meanwhile, the Technical Centre just as much gains from the local knowlegde and knowledge of market demands from its partners. Feedback from end consumers, installers and specifiers obtained from sales teams, trade organisations and special topic focus groups gives the Technical Centre an constantly up-to-date inside of the market's needs.
The Technical Centre's industrial experts support Braas Monier's business units worldwide by validating raw material resources, defining of production processes and assuring that state-of-the-art and standardised technology is being used for their production facilities. Through the systematic implementation of process control guidelines and standards, the operation of Braas Monier's plants is assured to be carried out according to the highest standards of safety, quality and continuous improvements. Good practices and detailed plant performance benchmarks are shared throughout the Braas Monier worldwide plant network.
Based on the thorough knowledge of the market's needs provided by our worldwide network, the Technical Centre experts start the development process of potential new products. Advanced techniques such as Computer Aided Design, Finite Element Analysis and 3D printing are used for detailed design and visualisation of new products. Before manufacture of any new product begins, an extensive programme of trials, testing and implementation is carried out. These trials can take place at a production location or at the Technical Centre's own pilot manufacturing facilities. For many products, the implementation process includes the in-house design and production of manufacturing equipment made by the Technical Centre's own Foundry.
Before the actual series manufacturing of a newly developed product begins, this product is subject to an extensive programme of trials and testing. Tests are carried out in order to insure that the product complies with international and local standards as well as with our own even more demanding specifications and requirements. For each new product, an individual test programme is specified based on failure mode analysis. It is only when all of these development and testing processes are complete that a new Braas Monier product will be launched into the market.
Many of our tests require detailed knowledge of the local climate, in a form that is not available from meteorological services. Therefore, Braas Monier operates a network of weathering stations in eight countries worldwide where thousands of product samples are placed for regular review. The data is carefully collected and analysed to be used for correlation with accelerated testing devices.
UV makes up only about 5% of the radiation in natural sunlight, but is responsible for most surface aging effects and is damaging to materials with low resistance. Long periods of testing for UV weathering can be reduced with accelerated UV tests with equipment that is calibrated against real life behaviour of the products. Decades of exposure can be simulated within weeks.
Rain is naturally acidic due to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but pollutants from the burning of fossil fuels can cause greatly increased acidity. Acid rain tests subject tiles to rainfall with high pollution based on the worst naturally occurring acidity levels for their defined guarantees.
Modern automated environmental test chambers reproduce the severest winters to validate the resistance of our products to the severest winter conditions in only a few days and ensure products to fulfil Braas Monier test criteria, which are higher than local standards.
In some climates products endure changes in temperature up to 50°C in only a few minutes. Testing simulates hundreds of thermal shock events in a short period of time to ensure excellent product performance against cycles of rapid temperature change.
A suite of tests is available to determine the performance of our products in a range of fire scenarios recognised in building regulations.
Ensuring sufficient ventilation without compromising the driving rain performance is critical in eliminating condensation risk. This is why we develop special equipment to test roof outlets and ridge and hip products.
Laying tests are carried out to check for laying problems and any product weeknesses, ensuring the new products are "user friendly" on the roof.
Over the years, the experts from the Technical Centre have studied the performance of roofs in all kinds of weather and climate conditions, both in real life buildings and in our laboratory. This knowledge has been used to develop a software capable of predicting the energy performance and condensation risk of virtually any roof construction in any climate. Application areas of this software are, among others, the design of Braas Monier Cool Roof systems for hot climates, the design and optimisation of new ventilation products, the study of new concepts for roof constructions, the study of the influence of air and wind tightness and guidance for the development of national and international standards.
Braas Monier tests its roofing products in a wind tunnel unique to the industry. Located at the Technical Centre in Heusenstamm, the wind tunnel is an important tool for securing the high quality of our products. The wind tunnel can simulate wind and rain conditions found in a wide range of climate zones worldwide. The simulations in the tunnel even include situations which typically arise only every 50 years. The wind tunnel test cycles are based on weather data which Braas Monier has continuously collected for decades in many countries. Usually four representative scenarios per climate zone are simulated. Wind, the amount of rain and roof pitch are only some of the test parameters. Experienced roofing specialists also observe and analyse the behaviour of the roofing materials in the wind tunnel.
Braas Monier's own in-house foundry is the central industrial platform for the production of aluminium moulds for roof tiles and aluminium roof accessories, such as snow guards and roof steps. The high quality of the tile moulds and roofing accessories are a sound basis for producing high-quality, innovative roof tiles for our markets around the world. The foundry's work also includes the production of manufacturing equipment. As part of the Technical Centre, the foundry has more than 20 years of experience in aluminium die casting. Everything that goes into the final aluminium products – from raw materials and quality control, to presses and finishing equipment – is characterised by the high quality standards set internally. After all, the foundry’s main role is to support Braas Monier's business units in 35 countries across four continents. The foundry follows the strict Group Health & Safety standards, which ensure not only safe working places for our employees, but also high quality for our products. The preservation and protection of the environment is one of Braas Monier's primary concerns. The foundry contributes to this through efficient raw materials consumption, air treatment to control dust emissions, and water preparation and recycling throughout the production process.