A Guided Tour of JB Red’s Roofing Batten Production Site

Roofing Today visited Marley Eternit’s Gainsborough site this week to see first-hand the production of the company’s JB Red roofing batten and the quality assurance in place that guarantees the product is consistently graded to the BS5534 standard.

What is most striking about the site is its vast scale. Quality Manager, Jenni Forrest explained there are 62 personnel operating the complete production process, from the delivery of raw material timber to despatch of the finished batten.

Timber coming into the yard is sourced from a variety of northern European suppliers operating under the PEFC scheme to ensure sustainable forestry and supply chain traceability. Jenni explained that Red Spruce or White Pine is chosen for its slow growth and resulting density to give a strong batten. Each delivery is checked against its PEFC label so that users of the end product can track each batten right back to its forest source.

Once unloaded and cut to 50mm or 38mm widths, the battens are processed through the grading shed where the real magic happens. Each batten is passed under the unrelenting scrutiny of ‘Golden Eye’ – the high-speed camera which scans each length for imperfections such as knots or splits. Battens not up to standard are rejected, either re-cut to eliminate the deficient portion or recycled.

The Golden Eye
Stamped Batten

Next is the Treatment Plant where batches of 22m3 are pressure treated with preservative to ensure their longevity. The battens are put into a vacuum chamber and then flooded with a copper solution preservative. After soaking, the preservative is then drained away and another vacuum created to recover all loose liquid before it is recycled for the next batch. A sample of the battens is then tested to ensure it is adequately saturated.

Preservative Treatment

Jenni monitors the data from each stage of the production process, assessing the standard of raw timber from each supplier, the numbers of rejected battens, and the quality of the preservative treatment to make sure that every batten leaving the site meets the stringent quality standards expected.

“No two pieces of timber are ever the same,” says Jenni. “Wood is, of course, a natural product and is affected by the conditions prevailing during its growth, such as rainfall and temperature. That’s why we set up such stringent quality checks.”

It is only when satisfied the product meets these strict standards that the JB Red battens acquire their distinctive red appearance and are stamped with the BS5534 mark. JB Red is the only roofing batten to be UKAS third-party assessed by the BBA – a message Marley reinforces with its catchy strapline: ‘rely on red’.

Storage of this natural product is also important because too much moisture could weaken the batten. Marley has invested in a custom-designed racking system which allows the battens to remain in optimum conditions before despatch.

Judging by the enormous scale of the Marley Eternit site and the busy forklifts loading delivery lorries, the JB Red battens don’t stay in the sheds for long before they make their way to distributors ready for purchase by roofers who want to be sure of the quality and compliance of their roof installations.

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