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Choosing Hardware for Project Applications Key Aspects to Consider
Tony J Perayil, Kinlong Hardware India Pvt Ltd
Every building carries a unique feature that creates its own identity. This identity makes the building stand out in the world of contemporary architecture’s infinite iterations. The architecture hardware used in the building creates that unique identity, it matches the aesthetic vision of the architect with the functional parameters demanded by the project and end user. The selection of hardware depends on the application purpose, the end user experience, safety, the specific function, performance, aesthetics, endurance, customisation and quality.
Safety is of paramount importance when it comes to selecting any hardware The performance of a building and the experience that it delivers to the end users depends majorly on the hardware used even though architectural hardware cost comes to a meagre 2 to 7% of the total project value.
A typical project might be from the following sector: health care, retail, commercial, residential, or institutional. Choosing the right hardware is key to the overall successful completion of the project. Shortcuts and compromises on quality, safety and performance parameters will adversely affect the installation, long-term maintenance and safety. The key to a properly functioning building with aesthetic appeal is the right selection of hardware used in façades, aluminium/ uPVC doors & windows, door controls, railings, canopies, etc.
Automatic sliding doors, D&W hardware, lock hardware, bathroom hardware, flooring hardware, internal railings, door control hardware, etc., give the touch and feel experience to the end user and any failure of the above-mentioned shall result in loss of customer satisfaction. Over the years, the technological gains that our industry has acquired have enabled the manufacturers to design and manufacture high-performance hardware at an affordable cost all the while ensuring safety and quality.
The Current Global Trend
The current global trend is to adopt a one-stop solution provider for all architectural needs. A one-stop solution provider is banking on the ease of business brought in by them by giving all the products ranging from anchor bolts, sealants, shower cubicles, SS & Alu railings, façade hardware, uPVC and ALU D&W hardware, flooring hardware, door controls, automatic sliding doors, safety products, SPC flooring hardware, screws, cast-in-channels, etc., in one single package.
It helps the project owner to easily procure all the required materials under one roof hence easing the process and thereby cost-effectively saving time. This is in trend because it eases the concept to reality by efficiently channelling the design stage, procurement process, maintenance process, installation, etc. Currently, in India, only a few hardware manufacturers are capable of this business model since it involves high investment, technical prowess and manufacturing capability.
The Key Aspects in Selecting the Right Architectural Hardware
This article shall cover the key aspects of selecting the right architectural hardware in health care, retail, commercial, residential and institutional projects. What factors should be kept in consideration right from the concept stage, design stage to installation and maintenance?
In the healthcare sector, function follows form. The main idea is to have hardware that works without fail, give high performance, and is sustainable. Healthcare sector projects are often in high footfall zones and it is of utmost importance that the hardware used is capable to take a beating and still perform without a hiccup. It is always recommended to use hardware with anti-microbial properties. The selected hardware should meet the specific needs (dimensional & operational parameters) of each section/department of the hospital.
Staff restrooms and patient restrooms have two types of doors. A patient restroom requires emergency rescue hardware, and the door has to swing out into the patient room. Staff restrooms do not have the same requirements.
Hermetically sealed doors are specially designed for use in operating theatres, laboratories and other clean room environments where air pressure control and hygiene are of the utmost importance.
When selecting the flooring material in healthcare projects, it should be antislip and durable, monolithic, or has minimum joints. This minimises bacteria growth and helps fight hospital-acquired infections. Stringent adherence to the industry standard certifications for each product – ISI certification, etc. is mandatory. Always choose hardware with a smooth surface finish to enable easy cleaning and sanitation. The material should be able to withstand any reaction from the cleaning agents. Fire resistance for selected departments – 2.5 Hrs. should be considered while choosing the hardware.
In commercial projects, for example, IT office buildings or malls, equal importance is given to the safety and aesthetic appeal of the hardware selected. A good example can be given from the recent ‘Midnight Sale Shopping Festival’ at one of Asia’s largest shopping malls, “Lulu Mall” in Kerala. The recently opened mall saw an unprecedented crowd of ten thousand storming the Mall together. The multi-level building’s SS-Railings System was put to the test on that day when the huge crowd was packed in the mall and pressed against the railings on all the floors. The safety considerations that went into the designing of the railings play an important role here.
Practices like using cut-length “Aluminium U-Channel” seamless railings concealed under the cover plate in high-rise buildings should be avoided and only full-length Aluminium U-Channels must be used. These shortcuts to save a few hundred rupees per running meter could result in catastrophic failures. It is up to the hardware suppliers to choose not to supply in such projects and convince the end clients of the importance of safety. It is indeed a good sign in our industry that the majority of the railings manufacturers refuse such requests.
Façades form an integral part of the characteristic of the building. The hardware selected should go hand in hand with the vision of the architect and the safety consideration of the consultant. Most complex buildings would need heavy customisation and high levels of engineering for the hardware to bring out the concept design to reality. For Example, the façade in “Port Blair Airport” in Andaman Nicobar Islands has a double curvature façade, and to achieve that the use of heavily customised SS cables and SS clamps were used. Each clamp has 5 cables passing through them – two horizontal, two vertical, and one diagonal. When selecting hardware for such projects, always consider the manufacturer who has the technical prowess and manufacturing capability to design, manufacture and support in a cost-efficient manner.
The hardware in commercial buildings should be aesthetically pleasing yet safe, with proper calculation reports to substantiate the hardware performance claims. Select complies are that comply with certifications from consultants and architects’ requirements as per industry standards and the end client.
It is good to observe that few premium residential builders have started adopting the use of SS2205 in SS pillars, particularly in the Kochi-Kerala market, this is a customer-centric approach and increases the premium value of the overall project. Always choose SS316 for architectural hardware in coastal areas. SS304 is prone to rust in such conditions. Material grade, quality as per specific requirements of usage, service, and maintenance availability are key aspects while choosing the right hardware. Choose hardware with a clear product warranty and test certificates with a long life cycle.
Sofitel Hotel Mumbai, BKC Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Kochi – Hardware installations Do not compromise on quality but at the same time project budget might be a constraint. Hence always look out for different hardware suppliers who can give you a better cost-effective solution without compromising the quality and performance. It is always the right practice to check with multiple vendors before making a purchase decision for hardware.
For institutional projects, availability of certifications as per market standards – UL, CE, etc., and approval from state or central government authorities for a respective government project. E.g., KIIFB is required for the hardware selected. Fire safety, product warranty, long life cycle, service & maintenance, etc will ensure peace in the post-installation and maintenance time. Hardware should be chosen by analysing the current market trend and its requirements. Prediction of any change in the trend with a futuristic view is mandatory. New problem-solving or unique hardware can be a game changer but has its own risk – proper analysis of the impact it can have on the market and the consumer can help to act wisely and avoid risk. Always consider the post-sales support and serviceability of the hardware selected, provided by its manufacturer.
Tony J Perayil, Kinlong Hardware India Pvt Ltd
Dy. General Manager
Tony J Perayil is one of the senior most employees of Kinlong Hardware India Pvt Ltd and has played a pivotal role in the establishment and growth of the brand in South India. He is an expert in mega project handling and a key force in airport projects undertaken by Kinlong India.