Smooth Air PanelDuct Seismic Testing

Smooth Air PanelDuct Seismic Testing

Smooth Air Products Ltd is a market leader in the supply of heating and ventilation systems for buildings. Recognising that seismic performance of building services is becoming a topic of concern, Smooth Air proactively sought to validate their product’s performance. Smooth Air got in touch with the Holmes Solutions team, and together developed a testing regime that exceeded New Zealand’s regulatory requirements and matched international best practice. The tests were a success, and proved Smooth Air’s PanelDuct system could withstand the shaking associated with a severe seismic event.

Smooth Air PanelDuct Seismic Testing

Industry stakeholders are applying pressure for improved seismic performance of building services. However, in NZ the prescribed standard (NZS4219) for assessing operational continuity have not kept pace with international best practice. Smooth Air Products Ltd as a manufacturer, importer and distributor of proprietary heating and ventilation components in NZ, desired to be at the forefront of this trend. The objective was to demonstrate performance to the necessary standard and beyond, using internationally recognised best practice. Taking this approach was the only available option to Smooth Air for several reasons:

  • Testing proved performance and established their reputation as an innovator.
  • By undertaking more rigorous shake testing than required, suitability to other seismic regions was demonstrated.
  • Product performance provides confidence to clients, and peace of mind to Smooth-Air.

Holmes Solutions frequently offers technical leadership to a number of industries, encouraging the improvement of standards. In this instance a thorough review was undertaken of the seismic standards required in NZ, as well as wider international best practice. The uncertainty surrounding dynamic response of non-structural elements is of increasing concern to practising engineers. Many are agreeing that the prescribed static testing or calculation doesn’t provide them with “reasonable grounds” for acceptance. To bridge the gap we proposed a dynamic test regime based around the ICC-ES AC156 standard cited in the International Building Code and this was confirmed with practising engineers. This test regime coupled with suitable post-test functionality checks, would verify that the provided specimens met the requirements for operational continuity.

The testing subjected Smooth Air’s PanelDuct system to code level broad spectrum vibrations while suspended on an inverted shake-table. The PanelDuct outperformed client expectations. Assessments indicated no structural damage, and Smooth Air successfully gained confidence in the seismic performance of the product.

Without physical testing, understanding performance in a seismic environment is challenging. By working with us Smooth Air have gained a better understanding of the PanelDucts dynamic behaviour. Smooth Air now has confidence that their innovative product will perform as expected when the next shake happens.


If you would like more information regarding seismic test of non-structural elements, please contact Sam Adshead on +64 3 363 2180 or email

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