Research & development
The ITW corporation is committed to continuous research and development. In addition to the specialist R&D centres around the world (some of which are mentioned below), the "ITW Technology" centre in Chicago is on hand to partner and proactively engage with ITW business divisions to drive development of new technology by offering unique expertise and consulting services. Although there is no single R&D department, in 2008 ITW invested $210 million overall in this area.
Software teams in Farnham and Truro in the UK, and Texas and Florida in USA work constantly on the Alpine software development to remain a market leader in roof truss and open web joist engineering. VisionREZ is developed by Ameri-CAD in the USA, and hsbCAD in Belguim. At ITW Industry, we regularly work closely with our customers to evaluate the software offer, before engineering software solutions tailored to the way that roof truss and open web joist fabricators work today. Recent innovations by the UK development team include the Alpine / hsbCAD software link which reduces multiple input of data, therefore saving time and reducing errors.
Our in-house timber engineered connector research facility in Glenrothes, Scotland is at the forefront of connector development in the UK through an active and ongoing product development program. The testing facilities enable prototype testing to be conducted on new connector designs as well as extensive test programs on Alpine and Cullen connectors.
The “Cullen Concept Floor Test Facility”, also at Glentrothes, was designed and developed by Cullen to provide a means of testing full scale buildings to represent actual site conditions. The facility includes a full size calibrated test rig with the ability to test point loads on any part of the floor. One of the aims of the facility is to promote best practice to create a safer working environment within the engineered timber flooring industry. The Cullen Concept Floor Test Facility has encouraged early involvement of suppliers and customers in the design process and ensures that we continue to develop practical, competitive, high performance connector solutions.
At ITW, we continually invest in research and developing wood fastner technology. Our in-house Wood Fasteners Industrial Laboratory in Middelfart (Denmark) develops optimal, innovative fastener solutions, making use of knowledge in applications, products and process technology. It furthermore ensures the compatibility between fasteners and tools compliant with EN792-13. The laboratory also participates in European committees that influence norms in the industries in which ITW Industry operates (Eurocode 5, the European timber construction standard for example). Where appropriate we offer the facilities of this laboratory free of charge to our customers. ITW are among the top 100 patent holders in the USA, possessing more than 14,000 unexpired and pending patent applications.
Alpine machinery is designed and built by the professional team at Alpine Equipment in the USA. Saws, presses and other machinery for roof truss and open web joist manufacture are built in the USA, and those destined for the UK are CE marked.
In 2004 ITW established a dedicated Unit in Barsbuttel, near Hamburg, Germany, to design and manufacture the Toolmatic automated fastening systems. This capitalises on the many years of experience accumulated by Paslode, DuoFast, Haubold and Kartro in this field. Our overall objective is to fully understand the requirements of each production line and to work with both the machine builder and the client, to find the most appropriate solution. By maintaining a separate dedicated manufacturing unit we are able to customise tools to suit the individual fastening station, for instance whether a top loading magazine or side loading magazine is required, even incorporating robot magazine replenishment for very high volume lines.