When you see innovation and make the connection that it can actually save time and therefore money, it suddenly becomes a ‘no brainer’ the critical mass is making that connection.
Having a what can only be described as a fleeting demonstration of what looked like a ‘ray gun’ by WestWoods Technical Director; Wayne Chissell, further investigation was needed.
“Waynes’s demonstration was rather convincing and despite his joy of being able to throw copious amounts of water onto a decking system and then proceed to dry ponding water leaving a dry surface meant further investigation was needed…”.
Simon Lamb, Managing Director
The ‘Ray Gun’ in question was an ETorch designed and manufactured by Imperial Thermal Engineering in Braintree Essex which WestWoods have been demonstrating in their training room to perspective users of their products.
Over the past years there have been many incidents of open flame use on roofs that have caused Schools to burn down at horrendous costs such as the Harrington Junior School in Long Eaton in May 2020 which completely destroyed the school.
Kumu Kumar Head of Risk Engineering at Zurich Insurance commented “hot works remain a constant threat and more action is needed to tackle the problem, although the construction industry has well established safeguards in place, hot works fires continue to break out at an alarming rate…”.
The fire itself could not be contained due to the school’s construction but the devastation and disruption to the school and community was valued in the millions.
After seeing the WestWood demonstration, representatives from Makers went to meet the creator, designer and Managing Director of the ETorch; Jonathan Forbes-Brown at Imperial to examine more closely the potential of the ETorch.
“ETorch has been a labour of love over the number of years and coming from a roofing background saw the need for flame free heat torch to eliminate the risk of hot works fires”.
The ETorch initially had mixed reviews from those using it especially the Mark One which complete with harness resembled scenes from ‘Ghost Busters’ than roof application.
The ETorch itself relies on a 3 phase 32-amp supply with a 5 pin adapter usually found on most roofs via the lift supply and can produce forced air temperatures of up to 400oc.
The ETorch relies on superheated air forced out under vortex pressure along an extension blade that creates the desired environment to dry substrates. The initial Mark One models incorporating harness, torch and trolley.
The secret behind the super-heated unit is its patented van axial fan that delivers super-heated dry air directly to the workface. The unit comes with predetermined factory set temperatures so really becomes a simply plug and play system.
“My interest was spiked by Wayne Chissell at WestWood and after meeting with Imperial could see the advantages not only in its operation but the removal of naked flame and the control that is needed. Clients are rapidly moving away from hot works because of serious fires and as we progress more into our roofing sector to be able to offer this confidence to clients is key”.
Simon Lamb, Makers Managing Director
Following discussions with Imperial Thermal, Makers required some adjustments and took delivery of 3 ETorch Mark 3’s which are much lighter and come without the harness.
“Makers came at the right time; we were already in the process of redesigning the ETorch and their investment has brought the model on quicker. They are the first to receive to Mark 3’s and these will be delivered to their sites on Kellogg’s in Wrexham and Portman Square London together with on-site training”.
Jonathan Forbes-Brown, Managing Director, Imperial Thermal
“Before we invested, we also looked at how these torches could be adapted in our parking sector and indeed hired a Mark One for the Bull Ring Car Park in Birmingham… by adapting the blade sizes we are able to dry detail surfaces and carry out works we wouldn’t necessarily have been able to do…”
Darren Wootton, Makers Operations Director
“We have invested in these as we recognise the potential not only for us, in terms of reduced risk but to assist our supply chain to allow them to continue working and maintain programme production. This investment is not insignificant but we believe it makes us better as a company and employer”.
Stuart Rooker, Makers Finance Director
The Mark 3 is a much lighter model and push button controlled operated by pre-set temperatures controlled by computer in the control box. Supplied with 20m of cable and 8m attached to the ETorch gives the flexibility to reach most roof details.
The outer shell design and introduction of carbon fibre blades has meant that operational burns have all but been eliminated. Easy to use and lightweight weighing less than 5Kg allows operatives to dry substrates at around 1m2 every 2 minutes which can be vital in closing out projects.
“We are delighted that Makers have seen the potential in the ETorch, as a very progressive company it doesn’t surprise me how quick the decision was made”.
Jonathan Forbes-Brown, MD Imperial Thermal.
Makers would like to offer our thanks to the staff at Imperial Thermal for their help and advice and wish them well in their upcoming innovation awards from Construction News in the category Best Product Innovation.