What Does Your Makeup Say About You?
There’s a lot of talk about durability in the dispatch furniture industry, and we get asked a ton of questions. Is steel stronger? Is wood stronger? Is 12-gauge steel really better than 14-gauge steel? What is the lifetime of the furniture? 10 years? 15 years? 20 years? The truth is, a dispatch console could be made of bulletproof glass and hurricane-rated I-beams, but if the integrity of the completed product isn’t tested, it couldn’t withstand a Donald Trump temper tantrum, let alone the amount of abuse a console takes in a comm center!
Make Sure You Got the BIF…MA!
No, we’re not talking about Biff from Back to the Future. We’re talking about the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association, also referred to as BIFMA.
In a nutshell, BIFMA is the trade association for furniture manufacturers, which develops, maintains, and publishes safety and performance standards for furniture products. They provide test procedures for performance in order to say that your furniture can withstand the demands of 24/7, 365 environments. A quality vendor will comply with these tests (because a dispatch console really IS furniture) and be able to show the tests’ results when asked.
I can tell you that there’s only one vendor in the industry that has actually undergone this rigorous testing and continues to improve the integrity and strength of their products. I’ll give you two guesses, but you’ll only need one. ☺
Let’s Talk About the Birds and the…Trees?
For the science geeks out there, most manufacturers use industrial-grade particleboard for their work surfaces and cabinetry. It is comprised of small portions of various tree families in the form of discrete pieces or particles bonded together with a bonding agent.
The board that most vendors use is also commonly referred to as “M-3.” It typically weighs in at 42 lbs per cubic foot and meets the “M-3” classification of particleboard in both weight (40-50 lbs per cubic foot) and strength (“3” classification refers to the board’s strength). This board is about 20% stronger than others of lower classification. Basically, this board is not your run-of-the-mill medium-density fiberboard or DIY project wood!
If you want to learn more about particleboard grade classes and test criteria, visit the link below. It’s a real snoozer!
What About the Testing?
Once you have a final product, including the table base, work surface, and/or additional work surface areas, the dispatch console is tested by BIFMA. The console undergoes several load stresses, including (but not limited to) functional load testing. This evaluates the durability/longevity of the products under hard use and proof loads, meaning it examines the performance of the product with excessive heavy use. Only these tests define acceptable performance in terms of operational reliability.
It’s not just about how the equipment looks; the real measure of quality should be based on how well the furniture performs. Without the tests, the best anyone can do is just supply you with a good guess: 10 years? 15 years? 20 years? Think of BIFMA standards in the same way you would a crash test for a car you’re considering purchasing. Would you buy a car that doesn’t pass? Wood for thought…