TTF Panels Review & Plywood Standards Update April 2018
Ensuring that what we say ON the tin, is what is IN the tin
Further to the last NPPD meeting, and following extensive discussion at the Governing Board in mid-March, the TTF is issuing an update on the Panels Review and standards of plywood entering the market.
The TTF Does Not Approve
Firstly, as has been pointed out by numerous members, the TTF is not running an “approval scheme”. Therefore, all claims to the extent that products are “TTF Approved” are false. Members should not be making such claims, nor should goods be marked as such. We have written to and spoken with members marking packs in this manner informing them of this and have received assurance that this practice has now ended.
Members will be audited against the criteria laid out in the Panels Review for Chinese Plywood. This will be done via the amended Tool D in the RPP. All TTF Members acting as operators regarding Chinese Plywood (i.e. importing Chinese Plywood) will be required to submit this by the end of June 2018. A reminder will go out again in advance of this date.
EN636-1 with Bond Class 1 – Dry, Interior Use Only
Following the last NPPD meeting, several members raised concerns about product entering the market declared as Technical Class EN636-1. If a branch keeps this line of stock alongside EN.636-2 or EN.636-3 product, then untrained staff at merchant outlets may not fully appreciate the difference between Technical Class EN.636-1 and other products, again potentially allowing this EN.636-1 product to be used in more general construction purposes for which it is not fit for purpose.
The TTF would like to make clear to all members that, while EN636-1 is a legitimate Technical Class within the harmonised European Standard (EN.13986), it can & should be used for dry interior purposes only and must be marked accordingly. Best practice dictates that the marking of “Dry, Interior Use Only” should be visible on all pack markings and related paperwork, from website to DOP to Invoice.
If misused in application, as described above, it has the potential to undermine the good work achieved through the Panels Review.
Yet, we can turn to the Panels Review to see our response. The main objective of the review was to make sure we have correct and accurate labelling of products entering the market, to prevent mis-representation. That what we said ON the tin, was exactly what was IN the tin.
As our testing program showed, we clearly had numerous examples of product CLAIMING to be of one standard, but actually performing at a much lower standard.
We now have a system whereby members are clearly labelling their products, with third party test evidence to support their claims. This is great progress.
Now we must move forward with the other recommendations set out in the Panels Review.
Lack of product knowledge and specification training is a major problem throughout the timber supply chain. For our part, the TTF has developed and delivered training courses on Plywood specification across the country. We are repeating this process and developing an online version of the resource.
We are also making this available to deliver to Merchants via the BMF and via our own channels.
In addition, we have developed several other outlets for Merchant audiences.
First, we write and produce the newsletter for the Builders Merchant Federation (BMF) Timber Forum. Second, we contribute a monthly column to the Builders Merchant Journal and Builders Merchant News. Third, we are producing two large timber supplements for the Builders Merchant Journal containing advice guidance and promotion on range of TTF and timber issues.
In each of these outlets, the plywood guidance will be clearly spelt out.
We will also have this as downloadable information on our website, so that members can make their own customers aware of best practice. We believe our members are best placed to communicate with their own customers, not us.
In the interim, we would encourage all members to download this information sheet to share with Merchant customers.
Finally, as laid out in the Panels Review, we are engaging with the standards bodies to try and achieve better clarity over their wording. Many of you will know that the EN.636 standards are up for review. The UK committee, after encouragement from the TTF, has put in a proposal to simplify this in line with the outcomes of the Panels Review. In particular, to remove the “structural” Technical Class from plywood with Class 1 glue bond.
It remains the TTF view that the correct glue bond for structural products should be Class 2 or above. Merchants stocking just one line of product are advised to ensure that their product is fit for the purpose their customers require. In most cases, this will be Class 2 or above. Therefore, Merchants choosing to stock Plywood with a Class 1 glue bond should exercise extreme caution in staff training, stock handling and stock segregation.
This is the advice which we will continue to communicate to the Merchant audience through all of the channels described above.
Finally, I would remind Members that we have made great progress in this project, but still have a long way to go.
“In time of difficulties, we must not lose sight of our achievements.” Mao Zedong.
David Hopkins, Managing Director, Timber Trade Federation