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Within the first 60 seconds and 60 steps of entering a building, first impressions are made, and a choice on entrance flooring could make all the difference.
There’s no doubt about it: appearance matters. Both facility managers and architects have a stake in their building’s integrity both inside and out. With a limited source of revenue and manpower, how do they preserve cleanliness and aesthetic appeal?
Employing a permanent entrance flooring system is the most effective way to help coordinate this effort. By controlling the amount of dirt and water entering the building, the need for additional staff and/or time to maintain interior flooring can be minimized. Available in both recessed and surface mounted applications, permanent entrance flooring systems are designed to allow dirt, water, and other particulates to fall between the rails to collect and retain debris underneath the mat. This is a better alternative to throw-down mats, which allow dirt and water to build within the nap of the carpet, causing the mat to become saturated. Once a carpet mat becomes saturated and/or soiled, the water and particulates are easily transferred to other flooring further inside the building, requiring more maintenance and quicker deterioration of floor surfaces.
Installing an entrance flooring system at least 10 feet long traps more than one half of all dirt and water entering a building. An entrance flooring system 15 to 18 feet long will collect over 98% of dirt and water, and these distances will allow enough footfalls to naturally pull the particulates from patron’s shoes. After all, it’s not home and no one entering a business stops to wipe their feet!
In addition to their high degree of effectiveness, permanent entrance flooring systems also add to the aesthetics of any interior. They can be custom made to fit any size or shape vestibule and are generally recessed within a multitude of surrounding materials, such as stone, ceramic tile, or carpet. Entrance flooring systems work well with all interior finishes due to the wide variety of aluminum finishes, insert materials and frame options for various conditions. Throw-down matting offers very limited aesthetic features and often appear to be an afterthought once the building is built or renovated, detracting from an interiors’ appearance.
Another positive feature of permanent entrance flooring is its ability to limit the amount of slips, trips, and falls. Throw-down matting, because of its lightweight composition, allows matting to slide, shift, and wrinkle with every footstep. To correct this issue, duct tape is often used to hold the carpet mat in place. As a comparison, a permanent recessed entrance flooring system allows for a smooth transition from the top surface of the entrance system to another flooring surface, making the slipping and tripping hazards non-existent.
Forget the day of one-size fits all. Each building is special and deserves products that are effective and add to the aesthetics that give a positive first impression. Why purchase less effective throw-down mats and create more work with potential added liability? A better solution is to install a permanent entrance flooring system that is more effective for dirt and water trapping; offers less slip, trip, and fall hazards; and is aesthetically pleasing for that first 60 seconds and 60 steps needed for a positive first impression.
By Renee Hite is a LEED Green Associate and facilities sales target account manager at Construction Specialties.
The growing threat of counterfeit electrical products has prompted manufacturers and trade associations to pay close attention to counterfeits in the industry marketplace. According to the Department of Homeland Security, in 2012 alone there were over 3,400 seizures of “Consumer Safety and Critical Technology” products, which accounted for more than $146 million.
Consumers run many risks when using counterfeit electrical products, including product malfunctions or failures, serious bodily injury, and even death. Product failures can cause unplanned outages or event significant property damage. The potential damages of counterfeit products create financial and legal liabilities that not only affect the customer, but also facility managers responsible for the code regulations of the building and the safety of its inhabitants.
In order to find out exactly what that means for facility managers, I reached out to Paul A. Kempf, senior director of utilities and maintenance at the University of Notre Dame, to share his experiences with counterfeit electrical products.
Have you ever encountered a suspect counterfeit or gray market product out in the field?
Use of such products is forbidden in the industries I have worked in, including in the university setting. Their use would not only be a dangerous violation of specifications, but would be damaging to my professional reputation. I am not willing to take that kind of risk for any savings in cost. Working the last quarter of a century at an institution that emphasizes safety, reliability and uptime, along with my own convictions, has led me to only use products in which I have a high degree of confidence. This has spared me from the drawbacks and risks of using counterfeit products. I have heard of other facilities that have not been so lucky and dared to chance the use of gray market, used, or counterfeit electrical components.
Committing to only using authentic products in which you have a high degree of confidence is a great first step. How do you avoid purchasing counterfeit products?
We deal directly with manufacturers and authorized distributors. Knowing with whom you are dealing, and that they are connected to a proper supply chain is a strong assurance of genuine products.
We also are an active customer that participates in specification, direct purchase, and project management, including the commissioning of our equipment and systems. By maintaining active participation in all phases of a project, we are able to keep a close watch on the quality of labor and material used to construct our projects. Testing products prior to relying on them for service also helps to find any lower level counterfeit products. For critical assemblies and components, factory visits and acceptance testing also provides a higher degree of confidence.
There are a number of ways counterfeit products could end up in a facility, but it is typically due to poor specification of acceptable products, poor oversight by the owner, or suppliers who lack the integrity to ensure they are providing quality materials.
From speaking with industry professionals across the country, it is often the promise of a great deal or discount that attracts purchasers to products that end up being counterfeit. Why are you, as a facility manager, committed to avoiding these products, despite these discounts?
Counterfeit products expose their users to safety risks; they are unreliable and can result in loss of revenue. The lack of product quality assurance, testing, and standards certification make their use a gamble at best. In a time where downtime, reliability, and worker safety are of paramount importance, the threat from inferior products is not a risk worth taking. It is also worth noting that if there are any issues with a product, chances are there is no warranty or recourse once you discover it is counterfeit.
Any savings that gray market or counterfeit products may offer are far outweighed by the risks. If the pricing is too good to be true, then more often than not something is wrong. Facility managers need to be cautious and know whom they are dealing with when purchasing products and ensure they have the ability to support the products both financially and technically.
Stopping the sale of counterfeit products is everyone’s responsibility – manufacturers, distributors, resellers, contractors, facility managers, and customers alike. You should always purchase products from an authorized representative or distributor of the manufacturer. There is a higher risk of receiving a counterfeit product if you cannot trace the path of commerce to the original manufacturer.
By Tom Grace, brand protection manager at Eaton’s Electrical Sector Americas. For more information about counterfeit materials, visit www.eaton.com/counterfeit.
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