In recent years, the arrival of composite access covers to the market has delivered new advantages and a new level of choice for project managers of utilities and municipalities, specifiers and owners. A substantial revision of the performance standard from the EU in the shape of EN 124:2015 has provided a clear framework for composite manufacturers like EJ to adhere to and confirms that composites are here to stay.

The advantages of using composite access covers

Composite materials are used today for a wide range of applications from construction to the aerospace industry. Benefits of high-quality composite products: • Are easy to handle and install, due to their low weight; • Have no resale value to the scrap market, therefore eliminating theft; • Are corrosion-resistant by nature. Composite products will remain unchanged, even in the most aggressive environments. This can apply to areas with exposure to sewers, petrochemicals, diesel, de-icing solutions, and salt water; • Exhibit no signal interference with wireless communication devices which makes them particularly suitable for applications associated with water metering automation or electrical switching for smart grid technology; • Do not conduct stray voltage nor heat and can shield pedestrians from the underground environment; • Can be colour-customised to display a personalised logo or service identification. While composite products offer many advantages, how composite products are made and what standards they are produced to, can vary widely - and this is the primary reason why the European standard was expanded.

Meeting the new standards – the EJ approach

In 2013, EJ began the process of researching the manufacture of best-in-class composite access covers to meet the pending requirements of EN 124:2015. We took the step of partnering with the Irish Composites Research Centre (IComp) based at the University of Limerick. This gave us access to a pool of knowledge and expertise in the area which helped us establish our new production facility in Birr.

What the research tells us – EJ product compliance

At EJ, our primary manufacturing technology is closed mould resin transfer moulding (RTM) which incorporates continuous E-glass fibres as the reinforcement. EN 124:2015 specifies a comprehensive series of tests which must be passed to comply with the standard. The performance of EJ products in these tests is reported below: • EJ composite products meet the permanent set requirements and exceed the required ultimate load rating of EN 124. • The mean hardness of the EJ material far exceeds the specified Barcol hardness level, thus confirming a strong and durable surface. • When conditioned in diesel for 168 hours according to EN ISO 175 (resistance to fuels test), our EJ product scored significantly less than the 0.5 per cent limit which demonstrates a good resistance to vehicle fuels. • EJ composite products have a suitably coarse skid resistant upper surface featuring our trademarked 4L non-slip tread pattern, and have a high USRV value, making them safe to use in pedestrian areas. A complete set of test results is available on request.  

Leading the way forward with EJ

We understand that since the arrival of composite access solutions, supplier knowledge and expertise has never been more important. As a traditional cast iron specialist, our market knowledge and expertise is already in place and now we also design, produce, and deliver high quality composite products. To find out more about the EJ range of composite access covers or to arrange a tour of our manufacturing facility in Birr, Co Offaly, please contact Caroline O’Brien on 057 91 23100.