Retirement in the 21st Century – An Exciting New Start

Retirement in the 21st Century – An Exciting New Start

13th February 2018

A retired builder from Leeds has turned his hand to entrepreneurship and invented and patented a brand new method of joining roof battens which will not only make a roof quicker and easier to assemble than traditional methods, but will improve safety in construction.  Ken Johnson is 70 years old and spent most of his working life as a builder and developer in the construction industry.  However, after retiring from his construction businesses, Ken’s working life was far from over!  He decided to use his knowledge and experience to put some of his ideas into action and improve construction processes.

Rather than sitting back and resting on his laurels or taking up golf, Ken got busy working on solutions to problems he came across during his career in building.  He has already invented and brought to market a plastic pipe chamfer that achieves deburred chamfered angles in seconds, saving time, energy and labour.  It’s available in two different sizes on the KEAH website and is reputed to pay for itself in just eight uses by conserving time and labour.

Now, Ken has turned his attention to safety when working at height, an issue close to our hearts here at Safety Fabrications where we pride ourselves on manufacturing safe access solutions for working at height.  Ken’s KEAH roof batten joints have already been tested and verified for use at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre’s (AMRC) Advanced Structural Testing Centre (ASTC), a UKAS accredited facility that creates bespoke testing systems and procedures. 

The KEAH Roof Batten Joint is an injection moulded plastic push-fit joint that can be used to easily connect wooden roof battens at any point along the roof structure.  This means that there’s no need to trim the battens to size and nail them onto the vertical roofing spars, as in the traditional method.  Because the battens can be joined at any point, not only does this cut down on construction time, it also reduces the amount of material waste.  The joints make felting and lathing a roof much quicker and safer.  

Compared with traditional methods, using this method of joining battens also eliminates any weakening of the roof structure from trimming and patching battens – a practice which often leads to split batten ends and joint failure.  The ASTC are testing the batten joints to destruction using a bespoke testing technique which includes strength testing 28 different configurations of the batten joints using a Moog control system and the ASTC’s Tall Rig.  So far the tests demonstrate that the joints are stronger than traditional nailed roof batten fixtures and experience lower rates of failure.  The optimum load weight for use is 20 stone (127 kilos), but they are able to support weights up to 50 stone (317.5 kilos).

The KEAH roof batten joints are simple products that will make a labour intensive task much safer.  KEAH has already developed the product via a series of prototypes and have worked closely with construction and roofing companies to make sure that this product is tailored to the requirements of those who are keep to adopt new technologies of this type.