Ancon Lockable Dowel wins Queen’s Award for Innovation as Sheffield ingenuity revolutionises global concrete construction

Ancon Lockable Dowel wins Queen’s Award for Innovation as Sheffield ingenuity revolutionises global concrete construction

On Saturday 21st April, The Queen’s birthday, it was announced that Ancon Building Products had won the prestigious Queen’s Award for Innovation for its ground-breaking lockable dowel system used in post-tensioned concrete buildings.

This innovative component accelerates the speed of construction, reduces build costs, simplifies concrete design, improves aesthetics and enhances on-site safety.

Ancon is being recognised as one of the UK’s most inventive and successful businesses. The Queen's Awards for Enterprise are presented annually for outstanding achievements in the categories of Innovation, International Trade and Sustainable Development. Winning organisations must demonstrate the highest levels of corporate excellence combined with significant advances in performance and commercial success – making a Queen’s Award the ultimate business accolade.

Since Ancon developed the product in 2007, the lockable dowel has revolutionised post-tensioned concrete construction and achieved phenomenal sales across Europe, Australia and North America.

Ancon Marketing Manager, Annabelle Wilson, says: “Like all the best inventions, the lockable dowel is so simple and effective that you wonder why no-one ever thought of it before. The speed at which the product has been accepted on three continents is testament to the ingenuity and perfection of the design. The construction industry quickly recognised that the cost and time savings were substantial. Reducing a build programme by several months, combined with safety and sustainability benefits, makes for a compelling proposition.”

Post-tensioned concrete is used to create long column-free floor spans in multi-storey buildings. During construction, one-metre wide ‘pour strips’ were traditionally left between adjoining concrete slabs to allow for concrete shrinkage. Once the slabs had stabilised, the pour strips were filled with concrete to seal the gap – sometimes up to 12 weeks after the slabs were first poured. In the meantime, the gaping pour strips would present a trip hazard for workers and the two unconnected slabs must be supported from below, restricting further work on site.

The invention of the lockable dowel simply eliminated the need for pour strips overnight, eradicating sites of all associated delays and obstructions. The Ancon dowel is used to transfer load and accommodate concrete shrinkage at a temporary joint in the concrete floor. No additional supports are required, meaning the area is now safe, uncluttered and accessible to all construction trades. When the concrete movement has stabilised, the dowel bar is mechanically locked to prevent further movement, providing continuity in the structure without any construction delays.

Stuart Maxwell, Ancon Managing Director, says: “This is a fantastic innovation success story, originating in Sheffield and resonating worldwide. In the construction industry, new technologies usually take many years to be accepted, but the benefits of the lockable dowel are so evident, and so valuable to this recession-hit sector, that it has quickly become established both home and abroad. “

“We are absolutely delighted that our innovation and commercial success has been recognised with a Queen’s Award. We are especially honoured and proud to have been rewarded for our entrepreneurialism in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year. ”

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