Smoke evacuation solutions
Since 2016, David Schenk has worked as an on-site consultant at Verhaert Consulting Masters in Innovation. He’s currently working at Rf-technologies located in Oosterzele.
Rf-technologies (Rf stands for “Resistance au Feu”) makes, as the name suggests, products for fire safety in large buildings, more specifically for the so-called ‘passive’ fire protection. These products make a huge difference in overall fire safety. They don’t extinguish fire itself, but prevent the fire from spreading over the entire building and provide the people inside enough time to evacuate safely.
The two most common product categories of Rf-t are fire dampers and smoke evacuation dampers. In short, every large building, for example a hotel or office building has to be divided into fire compartments. Whenever a fire occurs, it must be contained in one compartment by blocking the flames on the boundaries of these compartments with fire dampers. Smoke evacuation solutions are designed to evacuate smoke and heat in case of fire. They create a smoke-free zone to facilitate the evacuation of people under good visibility conditions.
Rf-technologies’ smoke evacuation shutters and dampers are normally closed, and open locally in the event of fire. All these products and their requirements are, as you might expect, strictly regulated in all countries by legislation and test and product standards. David is currently working on the development of a smoke evacuation damper.
Back in 2016, Rf-technologies had a project for which they needed competences that they did not have in their team. They came in contact with the Masters in Innovation group and David started his assignment in March 2016. The first weeks were relatively calm and David got the chance to really get to know the colleagues, company and relevant standards and regulations.
As time passed by, the team slowly realized that they had to take a few steps back and reconsider the project from scratch. After David completed some research, he got the opportunity to completely redefine the design of the product. He became the project manager, supported by Laurent Houtsaeger, his coordinator.
Right now David is really happy to inform you that the company has almost come to a final design. The product successfully passed the first tests in an official test lab and the team is now working at the final adjustments. If all goes well, the design and tests will be completed by early 2019. The result will be a rather revolutionary concept for the market.
“After 2 years of balancing on a thin line between a realistic and pioneering design, I clearly understand this is revolutionary. I hopes this product will make a huge difference for Rf-t, because they certainly put a lot of effort in it.”
To end this story, he would like to tell you about the experience itself rather than the final product.
“For me it was the first time I worked on location and it was (and still is) an enrichment in every possible way. I learned a huge amount in a very short period. I was never this close to the actual manufacturing of products. I assembled a lot of design iterations myself and it was fantastic to be able to get a new prototype almost every week. I also improved my technical and soft skills since I was often pulled out of my comfort zone. So to me it was a fantastic experience in which there were, and still are, a lot of challenges, which I enjoy.”
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