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INTERVIEW - Dr. Elisabeth Bata

In a nutshell: What is the Austrian Institute of Construction Engineering (OIB)?
The OIB is a non-profit association with its headquarters in Vienna, to which all federal provinces belong as members. It works at the interface between construction technology and construction law and fulfils five specific tasks as the coordination platform of the federal states for construction products and construction technology (see left)

You work in the “Structural Engineering” unit. What are your tasks?
The structural engineering focal points in the “Structural Engineering” section focus on the Eurocodes as well as matters concerning accredited and notified bodies. Apart from that, “European Technical Assessments” (ETA) as well as “Building Approvals” (BTZ) are issued. My area of responsibility primarily includes the preparation of these assessments and approvals in the following areas: Structural timber products and wood fasteners, chipboard and wood elements, building adhesives and gypsum products.

Can you elaborate on the preparation of a “European Technical Assessment” in relation to timber construction and joining techniques?
“European Technical Assessments” can be issued for construction products that are not covered or not fully covered by a harmonised standard on the basis of a European Assessment Document (EAD). A number of assessment documents are already available for structural timber products and wood fasteners. If one does not exist, it must be worked out in advance.

A specific example?
An example for the assessment of wood fasteners is EAD 130186-00-0603 (“Three-dimensional nailing plates”). To this end, we check the manufacturer’s technical documentation in advance. Provided the scope of application and the intended use are in accordance with the EAD, the application can be submitted. We then establish a test programme for the essential features requested by the applicant. This specifies, among other things, the number of test samples, the load directions as well as the dimensions of the connectors and the timber components. The applicant has to carry out the tests and prepare a test report and, if necessary, an expert opinion. Upon submitting the complete documentation to the OIB, an assessment report, an ETA draft and a factory production control test plan are prepared and the relevant consultations at European and national level are initiated.

SHERPA ETA-12/0067 is presently being extended to include fire resistance R90 and R120 (120 minutes). What is the big challenge here?
Based on an FFG project on the optimisation of main and secondary beam connections in timber construction using innovative fire protection measures, the fire resistance R30/R60 already included in the ETA is extended to include R90 and R120. This requires that the extensive test reports and calculation models are presented in a clear form in the assessment report and that the results are integrated into the ETA draft in a way that is as practical as possible. In addition, provisions must be made in the test plan that include innovative fire protection measures and thus start at the interface between manufacturer and user.

The OIB, as the product information centre for the construction industry, provides information on the technical requirements applicable to construction products in Austria. Where do the current challenges lie for products made of construction timber for load-bearing purposes and wood fasteners?
The product information point provides information on CE marking and the declaration of performance for construction products, as well as on the obligations of manufacturers, distributors or importers, among other things. Regardless of the products made of structural timber and wood fasteners,
there is always the question of which construction products must be CE-marked - and the responsibilities of the individual players.