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Trending Technologies and Specifications in Architectural Hardware Industry
Architectural hardware like hinges, locks, catches, knobs, and handles are especially included within the basis of any house. They are known to serve very important and practical functions in your doors and windows but also help in achieving decorative motives and improving the aesthetics of your room, home, or building.
Architectural hardware is required for opening, closing, and locking the doors and windows. Besides these functions, they also play a very important role in keeping the occupants safe. Every infrastructure, whether it is a residential or commercial building, is incomplete without hardware products. There are lots of things that should be considered while choosing hardware products for your doors and windows. In this cover story, we interviewed the architectural hardware industry experts to bring you in-depth knowledge of the industry and to keep you updated with the norms and specifications that play a key role in the selection of the hardware for your projects.
Selection Criteria Of Architectural Hardware For Facades & Fenestrations
Architectural hardware is becoming increasingly design-oriented. Any architectural hardware selected needs to provide the highest level of performance, security, and safety without compromising on the aesthetics, says Mohammed Salim, Specifications Team Leader, Middle East & Africa, Allegion International AG.
Hardware used for façades and fenestrations can influence the overall look of any project and Dubai Airport is one such example. According to him, architectural hardware for façades & fenestrations needs to be selected based on their aesthetic value, with the least structural interference. A façade being the exterior face of a building makes it crucial to select visually appealing hardware that also compliments the overall character and nature of the building. Façade designs are also based on contextual climatic conditions and need supporting hardware. Each of the hardware selected must meet access requirements, and fire ratings for rated paths of egress, sight, and sound separation.
Tabish Khan, Sales Director, EuroArt (Middle East) FZCO, believes that the selection criteria of architectural hardware should be based on a level of performance which means satisfactory operations and durability. Secondly, the visual appeal of hardware. The transparent building trend has taken over in metropolitan areas over the past few decades.
The designer’s interests continue to push the boundaries of what is possible with lighter support structures, taller unsupported façades, and fewer hardware/connection points. This has necessitated the push towards less hardware and automation as far as possible. Ideally, hardware product manufacturers should aim for products to perform, be durable, and have an aesthetic finish, all balanced together. The overall quality of hardware matters because whether concealed or visible, sub-standard hardware fittings provide poor functionality and look cheap as well.
To summarise, the standard criteria include project location, project type, the finish of the product, type and location of the door, budget, general climatic conditions in the country, security level required, occupancy, client preference, and availability. Daniel May, Director, Consort Middle East LLC, says, it is important that design intent and atmospheric conditions are considered, whilst also taking into account operational requirements, to ensure that the opening is fit for purpose and code compliant.
Rolf Manuel, Project Sales Manager, Al Marafi Architectural Products FZCO believes that the selection of architectural hardware depends on its design along with its finishes that match the background to what it would be fixed against, fire ratings if the object being fixed to be fire-rated, the number of cycles it has been tested to or passed to withstand that many opening and closing cycles, the finish of the product to withstand any harsh climate or surrounding effects that may deter the finish of the product and the warranty of the product.
Latest Technologies In Hardware Products
Salim says that the UAE continues to adopt technologies at a fast pace, driven by the government’s vision. It is expected that keyless technologies will eventually become standard rather than the exception. At a regional level, research states that the homeland and commercial security market in the Middle East, estimated at $12.2 billion, will more than double in four years to hit $25.3 billion. The pace of urbanisation globally is unprecedented, and this trend is expected to continue in the future. The United Nations predicted that nearly 66 per cent of the world’s population would be living in urban areas by 2050. As the world is becoming far more urbanised and more digitally connected, the concept of smart cities has evolved to meet the demands and challenges of denser and more active city life.
In recent years, building owners and contractors have preferred using electronic hardware in the building, including electronic exit devices and biometric security solutions. It is also noted that the hardware is ADA (American Disability Act) compliant. Salim adds technologies such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, cloud, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and miniaturisation are supporting enhanced security and seamless mobility. Being a global business that is focused on security and seamless access in places where people live, work, and visit, we at Allegion are witnessing the fast adoption of these trends.
Khan says that building technology is changing rapidly necessitating changes to be introduced by manufacturers supplying finished building materials. Brands are committed to investing in continuous design innovations and upgrading product technology to suit changing construction requirements. According to May, architectural hardware is always evolving in both electrified and mechanical solutions, striving to make each product as user-friendly as possible. Various options of concealed hinges, door closers, and minimalistic furniture are just a few of the products that are continually being engineered to provide a simpler cleaner-looking opening.
With regards to electromechanical hardware which has been gaining momentum recently is the remote opening of the main door by the owner without the owner being physically present at the premises and may be away in another country and yet has all the information of who entered the property or provide permissions to enter all on his mobile phone via an application, says Rolf. He adds that matt black finishes of the complete range of hardware are the current trending finish. Designer lever handles in brass, gold 24k and PVD with sleek designs are currently being asked for.
Key Safety Parameters While Selecting Hardware
The late 19th century was more towards a beautiful look contemporary, classical look and gradually over the years moved to the modern outlook
Most building owners and contractors only look at the functionality and minimum code requirements during the selection phase, notes Salim. Owners should consider safety requirements for building occupants and also take into consideration the costs associated with maintaining what has been installed. Default or improperly functioning doors and door hardware can easily compromise building security and the safety of the occupants and also negatively impact a building’s energy use.
For most applications, these include fire safety, life safety, emergency egress, loss prevention, and security for building occupants. Each of these factors should be examined for each application to determine the door’s performance level. In the Middle East, it is also important to consider the installation of automatic doors to ease the entry and exit process for people of determination. In the selection of hardware, safety and security are interchangeable which creates some confusion in the selection process. Khan adds it is important to note that security is of utmost importance and many times, a balance must be made between safety and security.
May says it is paramount that fire legislation is adhered to and that all hardware is independently third-party tested and certified to the appropriate number of minutes as well as being tested on the correct door and frame material, finally using a company with visible online certification ensures more clarity as PDF documents can be altered or out of date. This is one of the key issues within the industry at the moment and it has to be taken more seriously by both manufacturers and clients, too often people use cost as an excuse to cut corners.
The Key Safety Factors for Choosing Architectural Hardware
• No sharp edges.
• No Tripping hazards
• Ease of operation for children and elderly persons
• ADA-compliant hardware for specially-abled persons
• Speed of closing in case of automated doors
• Vision panels in doors that are operated by people using it in both directions.
• Atmospheric pressure also plays an important role as variable pressures affect the proper operation of the doors.
Tabish Khan, Sales Director, EuroArt (Middle East) FZCO
Test Methods For Deciding The Quality Of Door & Window Hardware
Various options of concealed hinges, door closers, and minimalistic furniture are just a few of the products that are continually being engineered to provide a simpler cleaner looking opening
Salim notes that the Middle East follows the ANSI/BHMA/NFPA & EN/BS standards in which the hardware products must undergo a series of rigorous tests to determine if they comply with the appropriate standards. The ANSI/BHMA test methods are very stringent and have become a gateway for market access to the Middle East and some other countries such as the U.S. and Canada. Retailers and wholesalers will not be able to sell their products if they cannot get BHMA recognition.
Salim adds that Grade-1 hardware represents the highest level of performance and, according to BHMA, provides the highest level of durability and security with commercial hardware designed for repeated applications. Grade-1 hardware products are expected to meet the cycle test requirement a certain number of times, having been tested under the most stringent requirements, they are good for commercial and institutional projects. The lower grades 2 and 3 have lesser cycle test requirements and are good for light commercial and residential applications.
Khan says, generally, under the BS EN standards the quality of the hardware is tested for the following
• Performance • Fire resistance • Standardisation of similar products through CE marking
Khan explains that under-performance tests are conducted to classify products according to the category of use, several test cycles, test door size, fire ratings, safety, and corrosion resistance. Under fire resistance, products are assembled on a door and tested to certify them to X minutes of fire rating. All products that meet certain performance criteria are standardised under a CE mark.
The Underwriters Laboratory from the US also conducts performance and fire tests and issues what is called as UL labels on products. BSEN standards and UL listing are the two standards commonly adopted throughout the Middle East. However, each country has its own standards that are not as universally accepted as the BSEN standards and UL listing. It is important to mention here that almost all buildings in the Middle East adopt NFPA80 building standard code and therefore all ironmongery has to suit the requirements of NFPA80.
May believes that the hardware shall be tested and listed/certified to the relevant national standards, depending on whether the project specification is North American or European (ANSI/BHMA – EN). Talking about the fire tests, Rolf observes that hardware is usually tested on a door by a fire-testing third party where a fire is lit and the door is made to burn under certain high temperatures and withstands the same durations for the number of hours the certification is requested for.
The other certificate is issued by a third-party testing firm that checks if the specific hardware is as per the standard requirements and sizes and also tested on several cycles where the hardware is made to do its normal movement, it has been required since then there has been a load-bearing test where the hardware is made to bear a load it is mentioned to hold up for. These are the usual methods but then again it would depend on hardware to hardware and the required function it is said to perform so there may be more or other test methods added.
Rolf suggests the following points that should be considered while choosing architectural hardware:
• If the door is fire-rated, the hardware would need to be fire-tested and certified by a third-party testing body is from a recognised fire testing firm and a certificate to comply with the same should be produced.
• If the specific hardware is tested as per the regulatory standard it falls under BS EN or ANSI.
• Whether the specific hardware being fixed is complying with the fire and life safety regulations in terms of fire or safe exits.
• If the hardware is not a threat to the elderly and children in terms of safely entering and exiting an opening to and from a door.
Challenges Faced By The Hardware Industry
According to Salim, the distribution networks are filled with cheap hardware material that is often of poor quality, and from a long-term perspective do not meet the protection and safety standards mandated today.
Contractors, on the other hand, often select cheap materials to save on overall costs for building owners. This can pose a significant risk to the safety of individuals, as these products often do not withstand the fire and life safety standards required.
Khan notes that the construction methods have been constantly evolving and with that, all trades are also expected to keep pace. Safety, security, climate change, sustainability, price, and finishes are given a lot of credence along with aesthetics and traditional forms of operating doors and windows.
The hardware industry has been keeping abreast of all these challenges with constant improvements being made.
Hardware specification for doors and windows is now a much-specialised subject and we have multiple educational qualifications to train aspiring professionals on the nuances of the specification. GAI and AHC for European and American norms respectively have more than three-year courses to get a professional certification that helps them aid consultants and contractors on the specification, installation, and compliance with various statutes that exist.
According to May, there are two major issues, one is a certification and the lack of understanding and respect people have for it, it really does ensure products are up to the mark and therefore saves lives. That said, all certification is not equal and some are far harder to pass and maintain. The second is people must understand that they get what they pay for. There is a difference between value engineering and blatant cost-cutting, and the latter will cost you money in the long term or something even worse. Rolf believes that as the outsourcing of manufacturing takes place out from its source of origin, there could be a sharp decline in prices, which co-relates to quality, and this could lead to life safety aspects of hardware being vulnerable.
Role Of Automation In The Hardware Industry
The rising adoption of smart grid technology is a key driving growth factor for the hardware industry.
The deadbolt lock, along with its matching brass key, was the gold standard of access control for many years, but now it has gone far beyond old-fashioned locks and keys and is embracing cloud-based access control, Wi-Fi smart locks, BIM adoption and ZigBee network-enabled digital technology that offers a myriad of benefits to make our home or building smart and secure, says Salim.
According to the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) Worldwide Semi-annual Public Cloud Services Spending Guide, global spending on public cloud services and infrastructure in general, is expected to reach $210 billion in 2021, an increase of 23.8 per cent over 2018. In an increasingly digital age, there is a growing need to protect a facility physically and electronically paired with the benefits that cloud-based solutions offer.
He adds that the usage of technology-enabled security systems is beneficial to remotely control and monitor the access to a building and immediately notify about any threat providing enterprises or homeowners with the peace of mind that their systems are being monitored and managed around the clock, leaving them to focus on their core business.
Khan says the Middle East is well known for experimenting with all technological advancements. “We have the first 3D printed villa already constructed. The use of cameras and mobiles to keep homes secure has become a way of life in the Middle East for more than a decade”, he adds. Contactless operation of doors with the aid of automation has not only been useful, but a great relief for older people, children, and differentlyabled persons.
A few of the technology now available includes automatic door operators, hold-open door holders, and sensor door operators, RFID has driven card readers to provide access. In fact, we now require mandatory maintenance of an electronic database of access points in public buildings. May says “at the moment very little automation in production is seen compared to some industries, I am sure that will change as companies start to look at productivity savings. At our factories around the world, the productivity per person increases every year as more automation comes into the production and assembly lines. Huge steps have been made in this area over the last 5 years.”
Automation is playing a major role in changing the complete dynamics of mechanical hardware. It is not new to the hardware industry, but the requirements have become more in this ever-changing time and we could see a huge surge in automation as we are moving forward in the coming years, says Rolf.
Testing Methods To Check Air Filtration And Water Penetration
Khan says, “We would assume this has got more relevance to the structure of the façade or fenestrations rather than the hardware used on doors and windows. The only hardware components that can be discussed in response to this would be seals which would include perimeter seals, acoustic seals, teardrop seals, and intumescent packs.” “We offer a large range of weather–energy sealing systems tested and certified to meet building code regulations, designed to prevent draughts, severe weather condition infiltration, and energy loss through external doors which can significantly improve the thermal efficiency of a building by preventing energy loss by up to 50 per cent”, says May.
The usage of a technology-enabled security system is beneficial to remotely control and monitor the access to a building
According to Rolf, water on hardware should not be allowed and if so, the hardware should be of 316 marine-grade stainless steel to bear any water on the surface preventing it from rusts. If there is penetration of water or air filtration then the door should have a proper door closer that is adjusted properly after fixing. To take note of the closing speed and latching force, the door should have a proper lock case with the latch to hold the door in place. The automatic drop-down seals and weather seals should be checked for all of the items mentioned here and should have certificates issued by a third-party renowned testing agency proving that all the requirements are met.
Fire-Safety Aspect In The Architectural Hardware Industry
Salim opines that fire doors are a crucial component of a building’s compartmentalisation, providing the necessary breaks and barriers to prevent the spread of fire and combustion in buildings and the exterior environment. Passive fire protection systems in a building are vitally important and, in many cases, are the silent unsung heroes protecting people and the built environment. The maintenance and compliance schedule of fire and smoke doors, as part of passive protection in buildings, should be considered crucial to ensure the passive protection built into them remains effective for their entire life. Any alterations to the building’s active or passive fire protection must be done under building consent.
Salim adds, that if a fire door is propped open or does not close securely, it cannot prevent the spread of fire leading to extensive damage and more importantly, raising the possibility of injury and even loss of life. This is an all too common occurrence, with studies showing that over 70 per cent of decision-makers in education facilities and 72 per cent of health experts have seen fire doors propped open in their respective facilities.
Doors act as barriers to the spread of smoke and fire. Ironmongery on doors is an important component to ensure the effectiveness of the operation of the barrier, says Khan. Self-closing mechanisms, positive latching intumescent packs behind mechanical items on timber doors to limit the spread of fire and seals to prevent the spread of smoke. There are third-party certification bodies that test the products on doors and guidelines issued by international bodies to ensure conformity to the guidelines.
Fire life safety is critical when it comes to doors and hardware. Correctly specified fire-rated openings reduce the spread of fire and smoke and provide a protected pathway out of the building, says May. Rolf believes fire safety is the most important aspect in the hardware industry today and even more in the Middle East as the higher the towers rise the more the importance of fire safety has adhered. During a fire, most causalities are due to the smoke that rises from the fire rather than fire by itself, hence besides the door and hardware being fire-rated, they should be able to keep out smoke from moving from one area to another.
Future Of The Architectural Hardware Industry
Self-closing mechanisms, positive latching intumescent pack behind mechanical items on timber doors limit the spread of fire and seals to prevent the spread of smoke
The global architectural hardware market size was valued at $15,960 million in 2018 and is projected to reach $23,271 million by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 6.8 per cent from 2019 to 2026. Salim believes that the global architectural hardware market is projected to gain high momentum in the near future supported by the economic growth of various developing nations and the rise in infrastructural investments. Increased investment in the real estate sector boosts the demand for door and window accessories and other architectural components.
Subsequently, the government initiative toward the development of airports, educational buildings, hospitals, parks, and other public spaces, is anticipated to create substantial lucrative business opportunities for the market players in the architectural hardware market. According to Khan, the future is bright with a lot of exciting changes to the traditional ways of operating doors and windows.
The late 19th century was more towards a beautiful contemporary, classical look and gradually over the years moved to the modern outlook. The current generation of architects is looking for more concealed and minimalistic options. The finish preference has moved from an initial aluminium finish, followed by a brass look, to two tone finish, and then stainless steel finish. The current trend is more of colours – black, rose gold, copper, and so on. A lot of attention is being given to concepts like anti-microbial coated hardware and using this as a method to prevent the spread of the virus.
A lot of attention is being given to concepts like anti-microbial coated hardware and using this as a method to prevent the spread of the virus
Mechanical keys followed by master keyed groups were the norm until early 2000. Mechanical keys are now giving way to access control and contactless systems. “I think we all will see a huge move towards electronic hardware over the next ten years but it will take time. Software such as BIM and others will play a huge role in how information flows through the project, including the decisions on what to use in the first place”, quotes May. Rolf believes that the future of the architectural hardware industry is promising and a lot of electromechanical hardware will be introduced as we move into the digitalised segment of the century.
The role of hardware for façade and fenestration is not limited to giving aesthetics or help in closing and opening the doors only, but they also play an important role in fire-safety aspects. The firerated door window hardware products play their role in reducing the spread of fire and smoke in the buildings. In this era when everything is going digital, architectural hardware products have been also touched by digital technologies that make them smarter and more efficient. There is a huge trend of digital locks and handles that give an extra sense of security to its occupants. The future of architectural hardware is growing on the right path with the industry adopting new technologies that are expanding the roles of the hardware making it more efficient for the buildings.