Faster-to-install plays a pivotal role in the fastener future

by | Jul 2, 2024

With both the timber, building and construction industries set to face significant challenges in the months ahead, Simpson Strong-Tie Australia says faster-to-install screws will help to reduce build times and costs for professionals in the trade, while increasing productivity with reliable fasteners.

Simpson Strong-Tie is a world leader in structural product solutions, helping customers build safer and stronger structures. Recently, the company has seen a notable trend towards structural screwed connections replacing lighter gauge connectors in timber framed construction, says Matt Smith, Field Engineer at Simpson Strong-Ties.

“Although they have been available to the market for several years, it has taken a while for builders to fully appreciate the many benefits of screwed connections over light gauge steel connectors and for engineers and certifying bodies to up-skill themselves on the new technology. These screws can pull two pieces of timber together and have the benefit of not becoming loose like strapping,” Mr Smith said.

“Many screws can be installed at ground level, removing the need to work from heights – and ultimately eliminating Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) mishaps.”

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The trend of using structural screws has also replaced the use of bolts. 

“Screws are a lot faster to install than bolts and our light gauge steel connectors make them appealing to builders. We also have hex head screws that imitate the hex head washer, which are faster and easier to install.”

Simpson Strong-Tie Australia has reported that along with these trends, the Australian housing demand has been significantly impacted by immigration over the last 12 months. 

“The influx of overseas migrants into Australia in the last couple of years has added significant demand for new homes [reported by HIA]. Ensuring adequate investment in public infrastructure and addressing housing supply challenges are crucial steps toward achieving a more balanced housing construction industry,” said Mr Smith.

Innovations such as faster-to-install timber screws can play a pivotal role in reducing building times and costs of building for professionals in the trade. 

“Traditional construction methods often involve time-consuming processes for securing timber components. However, modern timber screws, designed for rapid installation, can significantly expedite construction. These screws offer improved efficiency, allowing builders to assemble structures more swiftly. By adopting such innovations, the construction industry can enhance productivity, meet housing demand, and contribute to a more efficient housing market.”

The anticipation of the housing market booming in the next 12 to 14 months, along with Simpson Strong-Tie expanding, has seen the business recently move into its largest ever-built warehouse in the Southern Hemisphere. 

“Simpson Strong-Tie has more than doubled its operational footprint in the Australian market. The new facility houses over 35,000 tonnes of building and construction products ranging from timber connectors, fasteners, carbon fiber and can introduce more products; all from its newly built site at Glendenning.”

The warehouse is equipped with the latest logistical outlaying design to optimise efficiencies and continue delivering products nationally whilst welcoming the future growth the construction industry offers.

“On the 18th of April, we celebrated the great achievement of, not only our staff, but the growth we have seen over the years that has enabled us to expand and better serve our nation,” said Robert Torres, Operations Manager at Simpson Strong-Tie.

Supply challenges ahead

One challenge to the construction industry is the availability of building materials. After witnessing what can happen during COVID-19, when building materials are in short supply, prices can often increase dramatically. 

“The supply of fasteners is not a concern but the supply of other building materials, such as timber needs to be closely monitored. The Victorian Government recently announced a shocking decision that has sent ripples through the timber industry.”

“They plan to phase out harvesting native forests by next year. This has left many in the timber community reeling from the news. The abrupt timeline does not provide sufficient opportunity for the industry to transition to alternative practices and supply,” Mr Smith said.

The Victorian Government’s decision aims to protect native forests and promote long-term sustainability. However, Simpson Strong-Tie Australia says the suddenness of the ban raises questions about how the industry will adapt. 

“Timber mills are sceptical about the availability of new hardwood plantations. Balancing environmental conservation with the economic impact on timber communities will be a delicate task in the coming months and years, as the Australian timber construction industry becomes more reliant on imported timbers to fill the demand for housing construction.”

Despite the challenges with the supply of building materials, Simpson Strong-Tie Australia is still confident for the year ahead.

“With the current demand on housing, the construction industry is going to be as busy as ever over the next six to 12 months. Hopefully, the increased use of structural screws will increase on-site productivity, reducing construction times and costs. We are forecasting this trend in faster timber construction to only increase, especially if more multi-storey mass timber buildings start to be constructed,” Mr Smith concluded.

Prioritising trade-grade fasteners

Buildex says it has product quality and trade professionals at the forefront of fastener development with their commitment of ‘longer life of the fastener, longer life of the build’.

Buildex is the only manufacturer of self-drilling fasteners in Australia. With its manufacturing plant located in Melbourne it produces over two million fasteners a day. The level of manufacturing control and commitment to quality has earned Buildex the reputation of delivering the most dependable roof fasteners on the market.

Buildex has also shared some of the challenges facing the industry now that the pandemic highs and lows are leveling out. 

“The pandemic building boom that the building industry experienced is clearly over, and we are now in the hang-over period with fewer building starts and approvals,” a Buildex representative told AHJ.

“While the pandemic supply constraints have eased, we are now facing other challenges, such as the Suez Canal and resulting diversion of shipping around the Horn of Africa.”

“At one end of the market, with budget constraints induced by inflationary and cost-of-living pressures, price has become an overriding decision-making factor.”

However, despite these challenges Buildex guarantees that a commitment to quality remains at the forefront of their company.

“There continues to be pockets in the market that cannot, and do not, want to afford any compromises when it comes to product quality. Nowhere more has that become evident with the simple recognition ‘longer life of the fastener, longer life of the build’ and resulting take-up of the latest Buildex RapidDrive treated pine screws.”

“[RapidDrive treated pine screws] are stronger with a choice of 10 gauge or 12 gauge, drive faster thanks to their RapidDrive screw features, and last longer due their Climacoat barrier coating that protects against the highly corrosive effects of timber treatments such as ACQ,” the Buildex representative said.

While Buildex has made some strategic changes, its core mission remains steadfast – “we are here to stay”. 

The increased use of structural screws on building sites is expected to increase productivity and reduce construction times and costs.

“Buildex continues to thrive as leaders in the fastener industry, consistently supplying high-quality products across Australia and New Zealand. These changes are part of our ongoing efforts to adapt and evolve, ensuring we meet the current and future needs of trade end users and the broader construction industries. Our commitment to innovation, sustainability, and excellence is stronger than ever as we look forward to another century of leadership and service.”

This commitment ensures Buildex products are made to trade-grade standards, meeting and exceeding the expectations of professionals working with fasteners across a range of jobsites.

“We are continuously improving our product and service offerings to exceed the needs of the ever-changing construction landscape. Our products are trade grade, designed for specialist applications and critical jobs, ensuring reliability where it matters most. Available through leading hardware retailers across Australia and New Zealand, our products are easily accessible to professionals in the field.”

“Moreover, Buildex is dedicated to supporting the development of grassroots tradies. We help deliver opportunities for learning and professional growth, ensuring they are well-prepared to give their best on-site. This commitment not only strengthens our industry but also upholds our promise to contribute to the community and the economy by equipping the next generation of tradespeople with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed,” the Buildex representative concluded.