THE Hultafors Group, which owns Snickers Workwear, has acquired Custom LeatherCraft (CLC).
The leading brand in the USA since 1983, CLC is North America’s premier designer, developer and marketer of ‘work gear’ for professional tradesmen and women. It’s a product range that includes softside tool carriers, nail bags, tool pouches plus personal protective equipment.
Custom LeatherCraft (which is more commonly known as CLC in the USA, and as the Kuny’s Leather brand in Canada) prides itself on developing high quality ‘work gear’ that combines innovative design and functionality as well as great value for money.
Peter Dumigan, managing director of the Hultafors Group UK said: “We are delighted with this acquisition given that the CLC ‘work gear’ range complements the Snickers Workwear, Hellberg Safety, Hultafors Tools, Solid Gear and Toe Guard safety footwear product portfolios perfectly."
"We will now be able to offer the discerning tradesman and woman an even more extensive range of top quality premium brand products, ideally suited to the work they do on site."
THE new construction minister Nadhim Zahawi MP is set to make his first industry appearance at UK Construction Week (UKCW), the UK’s largest built environment event, at the NEC in Birmingham on Wednesday, 9 October.
A survey of over 900 construction professionals conducted by UKCW asked respondents what their one request to the Construction Minister and the Government would be.
The results of the survey revealed an increasingly impatient industry still focused on Brexit, but split between those who want the Government to ‘Get Brexit completed’ (37%, with the vast majority of those favouring a “no ifs or buts” approach), and those who want to ‘Cancel Brexit altogether’ (32%).
Within the industry itself, the research reveals that it’s mostly architects who are Remainers, with 57% of those respondents choosing to make ‘Cancel Brexit’ their number one request, compared to 15% choosing ‘Get Brexit completed’.
This swaps over when it comes to contractors, with 44% of those respondents choosing ‘Get Brexit completed’ compared to 20% choosing ‘Cancel Brexit’.
Other political and policy issues came much further down the list. The alternative number one requests from respondents were for the Government to speed up initiatives in construction to tackle climate change (9%), the cancellation of HS2 (a surprising 4%, mostly from consultants), and reform to planning laws and policies to make it easier to build (3%).
Nathan Garnett, UKCW event director, said: “The splits in the construction industry’s views simply reflect what’s happening in society generally. But it is a really difficult time for this sector at the moment, a sector that absolutely hates uncertainty.
"The Minister will hear this very clearly when he attends this year’s event – whether it’s deal or no deal, or cancelling it altogether, we just want to know how to prepare for the future.”
Despite the uncertainties, and to help the 30,000 or more industry delegates expected at the show, UK Construction Week is hosting a wide range of CPDs and keynote speeches to explain what can be done to prepare for the post-Brexit future.
For example, a major debate on the UKCW main stage will take place on Wednesday 9 October, on Brexit Boom or Bust? Industry Economic Forecast 2020. This features Professor Noble Francis, economics director at the CPA, Tom Hall, chief economist at Barbour ABI, and Lord Digby Jones, cross bench peer and businessman.
The Office for Product Safety and Standards will be holding workshops on timber regulations and the impact of a no-deal exit on timber importers.
The Department for Work and Pensions will be advising construction professionals in the UKCW Careers Centre and HMRC is in the Civils area of the show (stand C21). In addition, the Department for Education will be promoting apprenticeships and talking about educational options in the UK for EU nationals post-Brexit.
Nadhim Zahawi MP was appointed in July as the third Construction Minister so far this year. He will be giving a keynote address on the UKCW Main Stage on day two of the event, at 2:15pm. Pre-booking is strongly advised.
UKCW is one event with many sections, including Build sponsored by Easy-Trim, Building Tech, Civils, Energy and HVAC, Surface and Materials, and Timber. It also features Concrete Expo (8-9 October only) and Grand Designs Live (9-10 October only). Single registration gives free access to all areas of the show. Pre-booking is also strongly recommended for the extensive seminars and CPD programme.
I HESITATE to say this again because it makes me sound positively ancient, but in the world of screws (as in tools generally) we have never had it so good, writes PETER BRETT.
I can still remember the days in my youth when putting in a simple woodscrew involved using a hand-powered drill to drill a pilot hole – sometimes two – for the shank and the thread, then drilling a countersink for the head and then screwing in the screw with a wooden-handled screwdriver that really tested how much torque you could apply with your hands. Some old timers even recommended putting a dab of fat onto the screw thread to ease its passage into the wood. It was also said that, when using brass screws, that a steel screw should be inserted and then removed to make a track for brass screw because of the potential danger of breaking a brittle brass screw.
Some years later (1980s/1990s?) saw the widespread use of the cordless drill driver in the trades. In retrospect, their peculiar banana shapes and 1.3Ah battery packs don’t seem so great, but it was the start of an explosion of innovations that came with the extra torque available at the press of a trigger.
Soon the slotted screwdriver head became old-fashioned and even Phillips head screws were outdone by the invention of the Pozi. More recently the Torx, hex and square drives have hit the market, giving end users a wide range to choose from.
Making the old conically shaped woodscrews was difficult, even for machines – in England, woodscrews were still being made by hand in the early 1900s! Modern screws are all machine-made in their millions with straight shanks, sharp points, parallel threads, etc, and are so easy to use that modern trades think nothing of using several hundred screws a day on a job. Progress? I would say so.
The Optimaxx design
Unsurprisingly, not all the screws we buy are the same. Although they may look superficially similar in shape there are many subtle variations and I have found that I do choose certain brands of screws for certain circumstances. For example, some manufacturers use slimmer designs with sharp teeth on the threads that work better to prevent splitting when used near the edges of boards.
The Optimaxx screws I was sent follow a strong general purpose design that can be used on timber, man-made boards and other materials like plastic and insulation. My use tests found them to be very strong screws – I tried often to break the heads off by overdriving into the timber but I didn’t succeed once. More often, they would just drive through the timber – especially if it was softwood. I think they must be case hardened because I tried cutting off a screwhead with a multi-tool but it was hard job because even the TCT blade struggled to make inroads into the steel.
The strength and driveability of these screws are clearly plus points so time for a closer look at the basics to see why.
The first thing that I noticed is that there are some differences between the screws of different lengths. For example, the 50mm long screws have a thread that goes pretty well all the way to the countersunk head. The longer screws at around 80-100mm long have the thread finishing about two thirds of the way up the shank. This makes sense because the sharp thread has done its work after the first third or so of the job and having a thread all the way to the top would just increase friction, heat generation and the torque needed to drive the screw. It also helps to reduce ‘jacking’ – where timbers being screwed together tend to separate as the screw is being driven through rather than being pulled together.
To appreciate the subtle thread designs of modern screws it is actually necessary to examine them with a magnifying glass.
Under magnification it is clear that the points of Optimaxx screws are VERY sharp. The points are as low an angle as 20 degrees; your fingers may have noticed this when getting them out of the box…
The sharp point helps the user to push the point into the timber to get a good straight start, and the second feature of a cut-out on the point acts a razor edge for speed of cutting and clearing of material.
With the magnifying glass, it is clear that the next section of thread has what seems like mini saw teeth cut into it. It is self-explanatory that these cut into the timber making for a speedy drive of the screws. The thread finishes with a simple deep and wide formation that is quick to drive and also has a lubricant added as part of the coating. It is clear when using the screws that the design actually does what it says it should do – the screws are easy to start and drive quickly, sometimes too quickly if you are being ham-fisted and overdoing the torque setting on the drill driver.
I am a fan of the next bit of the design – the built-in countersink ridges that make possible a good, neat setting of the screw just flush or slightly below the surface of the substrate. (I can never understand why some people drive the screws deeper into the timber leaving a hole – unless you are going to fill them.) The deep countersink also makes possible a deeper - and therefore more secure - Pozi drive slot and a stronger head that will resist snapping off.
The marketing bits
Optimaxx screws have the benefit of being highly visible with the blue, black and white boxes that stand out in a retail environment. The Optomaxx logo is clear as are the sizings - they are big enough for me to read without my glasses, so job done.
In the retail environment, despite the clarity of the sizing on the box, unfortunately, customers still open the boxes to check them against the screw they brought in to match. Under these conditions strong boxes are an advantage since they will be tough enough to withstand the treatment. On site too, strong boxes that are easy to seal up again and do not split or come undone are a necessity for me. Optimaxx boxes are actually good in these respects but I have noticed that the screw companies are looking more closely at packaging to solve some of the issues. So maybe we can look forward to a redesign in the future?
WITH our dull, short winter days, work lights are a necessity on most work sites. Over the years I have used a variety of corded and cordless ones so I have come to appreciate their virtues as well as their downsides, writes PETER BRETT.
Modern corded LED lights are often bright, come with an adjustable stand and run cool. They are perfect for flooding big areas with light when painting, for example. But they often have clumsy fittings for adjusting the angle of the lighting heads. I hated the now defunct (maybe not everywhere!) halogen lights that generated so much heat that you had to watch how you handled them. And they also needed cooling-off-time at the end of the working day before being packed away.
Smaller cordless lights using main brand cordless tool batteries cast a good controllable light and usually have more features, like Bluetooth, decent tripods and phone charging USBs, but more features equals a bigger price.
But the ones I have seen the most of cost £12 - £35 from the ‘sheds’ under an own brand. They usually are quite compact and will last a whole working day provided you slow charge them overnight. The light quality is good enough, but my quibble is that they are a bit bulky and sometimes hard to place for maximum effect if you don’t have a handy flat surface or joist on which to hang them because of the way that the frames are made.
My ideal light would be fully featured with Bluetooth etc, compact, powerful, easily adjustable, easy to place or hang for optimum lighting and quick charging.
Quite by coincidence I had just picked up a small job laying some flooring and building some shelves in a loft. Since the Ledlenser iF8R had just arrived I slipped it into my toolbox (still in its packaging), hoping that it would help me out, because surely the loft would have a mains light in it…? It turned out that the loft had no such thing, and I was forced to rely on the iF8R for the whole job. Fortunately, the Ledlenser didn’t let me down and I came to quickly appreciate its virtues.
It doesn’t look like a site light – and that’s good
It is hard to describe the Ledlenser iF8R – the closest I can get to it is: like a mini-briefcase, but longer rather than wider, with a briefcase-type handle. It is just over 30cm long, 14cm wide and just 4cm thick – so it can easily be described as very compact. It does weigh in at about 1.74kg, including the battery, so it feels like a quality piece of kit. The matte black case is made of a strong nylon/plastic material and there is a large finned alloy casting behind the big LED light that helps to dissipate any heat that may be generated.
Switching and controls are on the opposite face to the light and operating it is simplicity itself. A big yellow button invites the forefinger to switch the light on and it is done with a single push.
The on/off button is surrounded by four other controls. A plus and minus sign on either side can be pushed to increase or reduce the brightness of the LED in five steps from 100%, to 75%, 50%, 25% and 10%. These are indicated by small red lights. The third control selects Bluetooth mode, which enables the user to remotely control the switch via a smartphone. A small blue light tells you it is on. Finally, a control marked with a battery enables the user to check the battery levels. If all is well, the lights light up as green, but when 10% battery level is reached, a recharge is going to be necessary sooner rather than later.
The simplicity of the controls is a good feature making for quick and easy information, and even with gloved hands they are easy to use.
For charging, a simple hinged rubber flap needs to be lifted to insert the jack plug. Initially, I charged the battery overnight so I didn’t take note of how long it took to fully charge, but to ensure a steady supply of light it will be necessary to recharge whenever the 10% battery capacity light shows up. Even a fill-up charge while you eat a sandwich and have a cup of tea will give a good run time.
The specs say that at full 4500 lumens power the battery will last about 75 minutes, while selecting the lowest setting of 400 lumens, it will last up to 12 hours. My experience of the 1F8R confirms this, but to ensure a full day’s work it is a good idea to get the Bluetooth operational so that it is easy to switch on and off and adjust the lumens when necessary.
Behind the jack plug is a USB slot into which the universal onsite smartphone could be charged from the i8R’s battery pack. Weather sealing is up to IP54 standard so occasional damp and rain on site should not be a problem.
Ways to set up
Despite being slimline and compact I did manage to stand the i8R on its side and base on the floor and beams of the loft where it seemed reasonably stable. But for more stability the robust carry handle folds back to form a supportive leg that is very stable even on a not-so-flat surface. It can also be held from a nail or screw driven into a joist via the handle. Six powerful magnets in the handle enable it to be stuck on a scaffolding pole or radiator as well – versatile non?
The shape and size of this Ledlenser light are the clinchers for me. It is so compact that I was able to slip it easily into my toolbox ready to take on site – something no other sitelight (to my knowledge) is capable of at the moment. Add to this the powerful and adjustable LED light that floods the workspace and the ease of use either via the switches or Bluetooth, which makes it a pretty perfect light for many users. Registering the product soon after purchase will get you a seven-year warranty too.
Ledlenser clearly has oodles of confidence in the product and I am not really surprised. I anticipate my sample will get hours and hours more use especially as winter draws in.
AS if summer doesn’t descend so quickly into autumn anyway, the recent spate of wet and windy weather has reminded us all that colder and darker days are inevitably on their way, writes PETER BRETT.
Time for all torch users - be they dog walkers, tradespeople or professionals - to make sure that they have a good torch on hand for when it will be needed! And just to make our choices that little bit more sophisticated, Coast has snuck a couple of interesting new torches into its comprehensive range.
Never a company to stand still - it is always developing new ideas - Coast has identified a couple of niches where product development and changes in the market have coincided, creating a couple of new products that really hit the spot.
Rechargeable is the New Green Dynamic for a Head Torch
The Coast FL13R comes in the familiar clam pack that is easy to hang and display in a retail environment. Potential purchasers are given comprehensive - but easy to see and understand - information on the front and back of the packaging. Of course, it also helps a purchaser that there is the ‘try me’ option to test the light output, light options and switch operation. This is enough to kill any doubts at the point of sale about how bright the beam is or how easy it is to cycle through the switch options.
Brass tacks time now, so let me deal with the rechargeable part of the spec. I live in a house in the country where there is no street lighting and relatively frequent power cuts. When the sun goes down it is DARK. Consequently, I have at least six torches in various locations in the house for emergencies, but twice this year I have been caught out on the battery front.
The simple solution is to have a recharging point with a torch nearby so that it is always recharged ready for use. The fact that the FL13R uses a USB connection for charging makes it much more flexible than standard three pin plug chargers. USB charging is an option on many power tool batteries now, as well as laptops, desktops, cars and, increasingly, on adapted mains plug sockets. Users will probably never be far away from a charging point.
Selecting the light options is done via the red switch on top of the torch body. The switch is sensitive and very positive in action so it is easy and quick to cycle through for the option wanted.
A full recharge will give a runtime of 10 hours at the low light setting of 85 lumens. In practice, most head torches are used at the low power setting because the high setting is simply too bright and reflective for the typical close-up work that head torches are used for. 10 hours amounts to a long shift at work or a long night’s angling, so running out of charge should not be an issue.
At the high setting of 270 lumens, the light is so intense that users have to be careful not to flash it into their own, or others’, eyes. Even at this intensity, users can expect a decent run time of five hours. The red light options are much less power hungry, so longer run times can be expected. Many outdoor users like campers and anglers, prefer using a red light because the eyes do not need to get accustomed to it.
The LED on this torch is wide and consequently the beam is a wide flooded light suitable for general purpose vision. Working, as a plumber might do, in a confined space, the beam on low setting provides a white flood beam that does not reflect harshly and provides enough light over the whole work area in front. It is hard to put a number on it but at about a metre distance the lit area is over a metre wide.
Other important features are the IPX4 weather rating, the included safety helmet clips, the comfortably wide and nicely elasticated (not too elasticky!) head strap and the five-year guarantee.
Good news for retailers and end users alike is that the pricing is very competitive: it will be hard (or impossible) to find a rechargeable head torch of similar quality with all of the features, for the price. All excellent reasons for stocking the FL13R.
The classic style hand torch, re-imagined
Think of the standard hand torch used by law enforcement and around the home and you can easily see the HP7XDL. It is a very popular style because it combines a compact body, light weight and a powerful beam that is adjustable for spot and flood light patterns. But this design is expensive – users have to pay for Enforcement-type specs. In some ways, it may seem foolish to fiddle about with a classic but (as ever) new technology, better LEDs and better manufacturing have created an opportunity for Coast to look again at the design and tweak it to suit a slightly different niche.
The plastic clam packaging does its usual job of protecting the product as well as making it easy to display and provide key information for potential purchasers. Not to mention the ‘Try Me’ switch, which is often the deciding factor for many purchasers.
As ever, the key specs are the lumen count and range of the beam. At high setting with 240 lumens on tap and in spot mode, the beam will reach 270 metres. A much lower lumen output of 70 still gives a beam reach of 147m but a runtime of 17 hours on fresh batteries compared to five hours on full beam.
Selecting the beam is simple via the rubber-protected button on the rear of the casing. The straightforward system of simply sliding the head of the torch forward and back between finger and thumb enables focus control from spot to flood.
What users might notice when they shine the light against a flat surface is the quality and clarity of the beam pattern that shows that the lens is a good one.
Once again the HP7XDL has a five-year warranty and an IPX4 weather rating and comes with 3 AAA batteries as standard. If you want an enforcement/emergency services style torch at a lighter weight and a competitive price-point then it’s a very good choice.
GLOBAL workwear brand Dickies has launched a campaign celebrating the passion and skills of tradespeople who inspire others with their dedication and ingenuity.
Whether it’s the creativity of those who make a living with their hands or the dedication of tradespeople who are always looking for new ways to do what they do best, the initiative includes a series of videos featuring tradespeople from a range of disciplines. This includes a stonemason, carpenter, brewer, sign painter and vehicle painter and explores their work and what they love about it.
“Ever since Dickies was first established in 1922, we’ve been making clothing and footwear to support people who work in a wide variety of trades – creating goods as hard-working as they are,” said James Whitaker, Marketing Director for Dickies.
“We know that across the trades we support, there are many people who are really passionate about their jobs and this campaign is a way to celebrate that. The people in our videos have an independent spirit, a strong focus and a love for their work that shines through. They feel privileged to do what they love every day and can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Dickies’ series of videos will be featured on the blog at: www.dickiesworkwear.com/uk/blog/
CITY Hire, the London-based hirer of a wide range of tools and equipment, are expanding their supply of power generation machinery following their recent investment of a line of 45kVA sets from MHM Plant.
Caspar Douglass, City Hire’s Marketing Executive explained: “We currently offer our clients a range of power generators from 3.0kVA to 20.0kVA. However, we were receiving a number of enquiries for larger sets, which prompted this latest investment.”
Caspar continued: “We chose the MHM sets over another leading brand principally because of their excellent service and past experience of MHM going the extra mile whenever there’s an issue.
“The MHM generators are good value for money and we’re pleased to strengthen our generator fleet through MHM."
The MHM ‘Ready to Rent’ 45.0kVA generators have a host of features and benefits that make them ideally suited for use on UK wide construction sites. These include; an engine protection shutdown system for guarding against low fuel, low oil pressure, high engine temperature and battery charge failure. The sets are also fitted with a three-way fuel valve that allows easy connection to an external fuel tank for longer operation. The emergency stop button is a requirement on any UK site and its’ fully bunded base is built to retain all spilt fluids, helping to eliminate the possibility of any ground contamination.
Caspar summed up by saying: “These sets have proven to be easy to maintain and operate. Their robust construction makes them a perfect fit for our hire fleet.”
DESPITE reporting a growth in demand for fire safety products and devices in the last year, a new poll by online ironmongery supplier IronmongeryDirect has revealed that over half (54%) of tradespeople do not know how to check that a fire door is operating correctly and complies with regulations.
The poll also found that 84% of respondents don’t believe there is enough fire door safety information readily available to tradespeople, despite extensive media coverage about the dangers of inadequate fire protection following the Grenfell disaster in 2017.
The results are published in support of the seventh annual Fire Door Safety Week (23 September – 29 September), which aims to highlight the importance of fire doors and increase good fire safety practice across the trade industries.
The online poll follows a national survey of 2,000 adults which was carried out by IronmongeryDirect. The results show a disturbing lack of general awareness on the life-saving role that fire doors play, with almost six in ten (59%) of the general public admitting they do not know how to identify a fire door.
Ian Moore, CEO at the Fire Industry Association, said: “Fire door-sets are a critical fire safety measure, designed, tested, manufactured and third party certified to exacting standards. For that reason, they need to be maintained in line with the door-set manufacturer’s instructions with the correct replacement parts.“
The research emphasises the need for tradespeople and the wider public to be more aware of the essential role that fire doors play in keeping them safe. Fire doors are designed to withstand fire for between 30 and 240 minutes and, when maintained correctly, they can make a remarkable difference in saving lives and reducing spread during a fire.
Managing Director of IronmongeryDirect, Wayne Lysaght-Mason, commented: “We are pleased to see an increase in the sale of fire safety products across the industry. However, it is worrying that a large proportion of tradespeople still seem to lack basic fire door safety knowledge.
“A well installed and maintained fire door can really be the difference between life and death for building occupants. We urge all tradespeople to use our new online fire door checklist to help assess whether fire doors they are responsible for are safe and legally compliant.”
HAE EHA has revealed the full, exciting line-up of guest speakers adding their insight and take on events affecting the hire industry at the third annual Conference at Loughborough on 1 October, which is themed around 'collaborate, innovate and inspire'.
The comprehensive timetable now features presentations by Dr Léa Cléret, CEO of The Leadership Trust, Frank Elkins Chief Operating Officer Trade Merchanting Travis Perkins, Sue Brandrick and Chris Lucas from HSE, Detective Superintendent Neil Austin from the West Mercia Police, while discussing mental health issues will be Phil Hemsworth (HSS), Brian Parker (AFI), Hans Fairley (Stihl) and HAE’s own Jim Maccall and Paul Gaze.
Dr Léa Cléret will explain the science behind leadership development programmes, and Frank Elkins is to offer up a CEO's perspective on dumper and digger safety. Kicking off the afternoon session will be HSE duo Sue Brandrick and Chris Lucas of the Construction Health Policy Team, followed by an overview of the UK construction industry and the country’s economic performance by Tom Hall, Chief Economist, Barbour-ABI and AMA Research.
Crime prevention in the hire industry will be the topic of Detective Superintendent Neil Austin’s presentation, while last but not least the final five will round off the conference with guidance on mental health policy at work before the closing address by James Dickson.
The latest announcement comes hot on the heels of the first round of speakers, which includes Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, a British computing, mathematics and language genius who founded Stemettes in 2013, a social enterprise promoting women in Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) careers. Taking up the theme of collaboration with no gender barriers will be a representative of the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).
HAE EHA Chairman, Brian Sherlock, will open the event before Commercial Manager Paul Gaze and Scott Ball from HireTrain join forces to give the low down on the steps the industry is taking to encourage a constant learning environment for new starters. The comprehensive list of speakers reflects the importance of the Hire Industry to the UK economy and the construction sector – Brexit and recruitment issues are also certain to be major talking points dominating the conference.
EHA members will have the chance to address the unique challenges event hire businesses face, giving them a glimpse into the future and enabling them to find out what opportunities could lie ahead for the industry to grow.
HAE EHA Chief Executive Officer, Graham Arundell, said: “We have a comprehensive line-up of speakers giving their insight and expertise on all the important issues facing our members and these are sure to inspire debate on the direction of travel for our industry.”
The HAE EHA Conference is open to all members but people wishing to attend need to register online on the website hireconference.org.uk
If you would like further information on exhibitor spaces and sponsorship options, please contact the team on 44 (0)121 380 4605 or e-mail [email protected].
THE Preparation Group has introduced easy-to-read ‘How to Use’ cards onto its range of shotblasters, grinders, planers, scrapers, dust extractors and tools.
The cards have clear, step by step pictorial instructions and include QR codes that, when scanned with a mobile phone or tablet camera, take people directly to a video that shows switching the machine on, changing components and fitting accessories.
The company has spent the last few months producing a series of videos for its youtube channel that aim to simplify using its machines and highlight important Health and Safety features.
Said Tracey Glew, Group Managing Director: ‘The company has recently attained its SafeHire Certification for the third year running and Kate Walshaw, Group Hire Manager, re-elected as an HAE Supply Chain board member. Our marketing and technical personnel have been committed to leading the way in innovation and Health & Safety.
"The launch of our ‘How to’ initiative for The Preparation Group’s 110v equipment in the hire market has been a huge success and we have now rolled it out to all of our three-phase machines. As part of our commitment to provide quality surface and floor preparation products, we will continue to address key issues to ensure user confidence in a clean, safe operation and the health and safety of others where operations are being conducted.’
The full range of videos can be found on The Preparation Group’s youtube channel.
Below is an example video for the 265 Shotblaster.