Innovation based on experience: developing the DonoBrace system

At Donovan Group, we’re driven to create sustainable innovation that helps improve construction processes. In 2019, we developed DonoBrace to offer a more efficient option for bracing – helping streamline the process of planning, manufacturing, and installation.  

The patented DonoBrace is the tension-only rod system that combines clever engineering with usability, resulting in a lighter, more cost-effective bracing solution. 

Innovation starts with collaboration – which is why we’re peeling back the curtain to share our DonoBrace development process, and what we’ve learned about the bracing industry along the way. 

Understanding the need for bracing efficiency 

Through the process of designing and engineering our Coresteel Buildings, our team identified the need for a better bracing solution for metal buildings. 

“The genesis of DonoBrace was recognising the pain points in this industry, and wanting a more productive way to brace our own buildings,” says Brett Donovan, Director and Co-founder of Donovan Group. “We found that traditional bracing methods relied on inherent inefficiencies – both onsite and in the manufacturing process.” 

Long delays and costly processes spurred on the DonoBrace development team to design a more streamlined system to brace metal structures. We also wanted to see a more robust product that didn’t employ cast ends. 

With waste reduction in mind, the initial DonoBrace product was designed using high quality steel plate offcuts, which at the time were a by-product of our Coresteel Building structures.  

“A spark came one day from a mechanical engineer on our team,” says Kerry McCollum, Donovan Group’s Head Engineer. “The design was relatively simple, but I think that’s what made it so effective. From there, we knew we wanted to undergo testing to fully understand the product’s capabilities.” 

Testing the product 

Before releasing DonoBrace to the market, the team wanted to test far beyond just the standard requirements. Working with Holmes Solutions, DonoBrace underwent extensive dynamic, cold temperature performance, and hydrogen embrittlement testing to ensure that the system could perform under a variety of high load conditions. 

“DonoBrace had a significant amount of R&D and a lot of experimental evaluation. They really set a new standard for construction bracing ” according to Sam Adshead, Holmes Solutions Senior Engineer.  

At this point in the process, we realised just how capable the DonoBrace system was – especially in high load environments. Brett Donovan reflects on the testing process as an incredibly exciting moment for the DonoBrace team. “Although we knew that there was wide potential for the DonoBrace system, the incredible outcomes from the Holmes Solutions testing showed us just how efficient and strong this product really is.” 

Optimising the design for quicker installation 

The next phase for the DonoBrace team was to make DonoBrace as easy to use as possible. John Lawson, Business Development Manager for DonoBrace, gathered extensive feedback from construction professionals using the product onsite, and identified solutions to the time-intensive challenges of installing bracing. 

“We took a lot of time to work out how to make the process onsite as efficient as possible for installers,” says John. “We made sure that the system could be tensioned in place, without needing to get the portal legs perfectly plumb. That flexibility, combined with the lightweight design of the system means that DonoBrace can be installed with just one or two people.” 

Builders using DonoBrace have reported dramatic time and cost-savings onsite compared with traditional bracing methods. Dave Olsen, General Manager of Acto Steel Developments NZ, says, “DonoBrace provides an easier and simpler way to do things, and the product has saved us around 60% in project bracing costs.” 

With efficiency and standardisation at the forefront of construction developments, DonoBrace is offering professionals a faster, more streamlined process for specifying, fabricating and installing a necessary structural component for metal buildings. 

What’s next for DonoBrace 

With the DonoBrace system expanding into international markets, the team continues to collect and implement feedback from industry professionals. Working closely in partnership with Shearform, for example, is helping spread cost-efficient bracing innovation across Australia.

“We’re excited to bring the innovative bracing system from Donovan Group into Australia. The feedback we’re getting says just how much easier this product is to work with.” 

- Sean Rumler, Managing Director of Shearform 

“DonoBrace is a streamlined solution to the complex and often time-consuming challenge of bracing metal buildings,” says Kerry. “We’re proud to be offering an exceptional product that helps construction companies take advantage of better, quicker, more efficient bracing.” 

For more details about how the DonoBrace system works, explore the Technical Guide or check out some of our earlier posts. 

Get in touch