June is National Safety Month – Blog Series #2 of 4: Jobsite Safety

June is National Safety Month Blog Series 2 of 4 Jobsite SafetyHere at LaForce, we pride ourselves in providing a safe, supportive working culture. We maintain an active Safe & Well program for our team. In addition, we encourage employees to report potential safety concerns through our ongoing Safety Ideas in Action Program.

Taking a step back to view the construction industry as a whole reveals jobsite safety as an ongoing concern. According to the National Safety Council, construction is one of the top occupations that results in workplace injuries requiring days away from work. But there are many resources available for contractors and workers. Check out this useful infographic from our friends at Granger Construction!

Safety continues to be a top concern at LaForce, and we do everything we can to contribute to safe jobsite experience! For more information on our close relationships with general contractors, check out this blog.

 

 

LaForce’s Continuous Improvement Team: Mid-Year Update

 Continuous Improvement Team Mid Year Update LaForce has always valued continuous improvement as a core business value. A key hallmark of our founder’s personality was his philosophy: “It can always be better!” Joe LaForce encouraged people to challenge the status quo, and this value is baked into the culture of LaForce. We strive to be fast, efficient, and productive for our customers, and recognize that improving our processes is an ongoing journey. We also invest in people and promote from within, as evidenced with Lean Six Sigma Training and on-site business analysts.

All three Continuous Improvement Business Analysts recently completed Lean Six Sigma training, earning their Green Belt certifications. This dedicated team focuses on internal projects that prioritize lean education and process improvement. Recently, we completed several initiatives that further streamline LaForce’s processes and provide the utmost in quality control.

  • We helped our Hardware Purchasing team eliminate unnecessary steps in order fulfillment. The new process is electronic instead of paper-based, which not only saves time, but speaks to our commitment to sustainability.
  • The Engineering team received advanced training on existing software (Bluebeam) to increase efficiency and expand their knowledge and comfort with the program. In addition, Engineering’s “Prelims” team changed its process to clarify communication with the Engineering team, which increased efficiency as projects are engineered.
  • We improved the process for tracking Shop drawings, leading to a more accurate assessment of lead times. This allows us to successfully assess our workload and allocate work among members of the Engineering team.
  • Our manufacturing team is currently aligning three press brakes to provide a “one piece flow” work cell, which will almost double the velocity of parts moving through those operations.

Our Continuous Improvement team will continue to identify opportunities for further development. These analysts will also spend time training others in the company to recognize areas that need improvement and address processes on their own. Stay tuned for future updates on our lean improvements!

We want to answer your door industry-related questions! Our wide range of expertise includes Doors, Frames, Hardware, Keying, Security Integration, Building Specialties, Architectural Services, Fire Door Inspections, Pre-Installation, Installation, and Custom Pre-Finishing. Submit a question by commenting on this blog or on our social media posts, or email us.

June is National Safety Month – Blog Series #1 of 4: Life Safety

“Your door opening specialist for life safety and security.” – LaForce tagline

 June is National Safety Month Blog Series 1 of 4 Life Safety“Life Safety” is a familiar concept to those within the building industry. But the phrase may not carry as much weight without an understanding of the history behind Life Safety Code. Today, “life safety” represents a commitment to protecting human life through building standards and codes.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is the most well-known organization that develops building standards and codes to minimize danger from fire-related hazards. The NFPA developed its first standard (for the installation of sprinkler systems) in 1896, and started publishing materials that lead to the current Life Safety Code in 1913. Over the subsequent 100+ years, this publication has updated to reflect the latest developments in construction and lessons learned from fire catastrophes.

Unfortunately, it took several tragic incidents to solidify the urgent need for such standards. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York, NY (1911)

A fire in a clothing factory, located on the top three floors of the 10-story Asch Building, lead to 146 deaths on March 25, 1911. Business owners locked the exit and stairwell doors during the workday to minimize worker theft and unauthorized breaks, which exacerbated the victims’ inability to escape the flames. The doors themselves opened inward, making it harder to escape in an emergency situation. In addition, aisles to building exits were narrow and obstructed. Finally, the building was constructed with one fewer staircase than required, since the architect insisted an outdoor fire escape was sufficient. During the fire, people crowded onto this fire escape, which quickly collapsed.

Cocoanut Grove Nightclub Fire in Boston, MA (1942)

A fire in a nightclub caused 492 deaths on November 28, 1942. The space was designed to hold 460 people but over 1,000 were crowded into Cocoanut Grove that night. Once the fire began, it was difficult for victims to escape, since nearly all of the exits were hidden or non-functioning. Some side doors were bolted shut to prevent people from leaving without payment, and others opened inward. The main entrance was only accessible via a single revolving door, which quickly became obstructed. In addition, the establishment’s décor featured highly combustible materials such as cloth wall coverings and faux palm fronds, which intensified the fire’s spread.

Our Lady of the Angels School Fire in Chicago, IL (1958)

A fire in a K-8 Catholic school resulted in 95 deaths (92 of these were students) on December 1, 1958. The school did not have fire alarms, heat detectors, second-floor stairwell fire doors, or fire sprinklers since state and city fire codes (at that time) did not require existing buildings to comply with new construction standards. The fire alarm within the building did not automatically connect to the fire department. In addition, there was only one fire escape and fire extinguishers were stored seven feet off the ground. Classrooms were overcrowded and the floors were highly combustible due to flammable varnish and petroleum-based waxes. Glass transoms above classroom doors allowed flames and smoke to quickly permeate the rooms. Stairwell doors that were meant to be kept closed were chained open by staff, causing the fire to spread quickly.

Cook County Administration Building Fire in Chicago, IL (2003)

A fire on the 12th floor of an office building lead to six deaths on October 17, 2003. The victims were trapped in a stairwell a few floors above the fire and died of smoke inhalation. They entered the stairwell to escape the fire, but because the stairwell doors were locked due to building protocol, they could not re-enter on another floor and escape the smoke. Codes require such stairwell doors to be connected with the fire command center so that they automatically unlock when activated by fire alarm or emergency personnel in an emergency situation. In addition, the 12th floor did not have a fire sprinkler system installed at the time of the fire, which could have drastically minimized the destruction.

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As a result of these tragedies, life safety codes now address building features that decrease the chances of death by fire. LaForce is committed to providing building materials that meet building codes and standards. We provide continuous training for staff members, to keep them apprised of the latest developments and technical requirements. Our certified fire door inspectors can confirm that a building’s fire doors have been properly installed and maintained to help building owners increase safety, limit liability and avoid fines. In addition, our Architectural Services team is knowledgeable in building requirements and can provide personalized specification writing services.

“Life Safety” is a vital concept that LaForce takes very seriously. Let’s learn from yesterday’s lessons to create a safer future!

Quick Tips & Tricks: Security Integration

WATCH: Latch Retraction Exit Devices: Solenoid Driven vs. Motorized 

We are pleased to release this quick video from our Security Integration team. Tony Warren, Security Integration Field Project Manager, talks about two types of latch retraction exit devices – solenoid driven and motorized. Check it out!

Road Trip 2017: LaForce Projects Across the Country

Road Trip 2017, Stop 8: Stoughton Hospital in Wisconsin

LaForce handles construction projects across the country!
In this special series, we’re exploring 12 such projects.

Stoughton Hospital in Stoughton, WI needed to expand its Emergency Department, but the addition had to complement existing hardware and keying standards, enhance security, and meet usage requirements. LaForce partnered with architect Kahler Slater and contractor JP Cullen to write hardware specifications, expand and install an access control system, and supply new doors, frames, and hardware.

The finished project is a state-of-the-art Emergency Department. The building now boasts a new ambulance bay, additional patient privacy in all patient rooms, and expanded registration space.

Due to LaForce’s unique capabilities, our involvement ran from beginning to end, through all phases of the project. We are proud to contribute to this beautiful, finished building, which positively impacts the Stoughton community! For information and pictures on more LaForce projects, visit this link or follow us on LinkedIn.

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Locker Material Types: What are the Differences?

Lockers are available in a multitude of colors, materials, and finishes. At LaForce, we can supply lockers for schools, hospitals, recreation facilities, and more. But when it comes to determining your facility’s need, the options can be overwhelming. Let’s break down one common question: What are the differences between metal lockers, solid plastic lockers, and phenolic plastic lockers?

Contact LaForce with further questions or a customized quote.

Locker Material Types

Industry Trends: LaForce Responds to the Construction Labor Shortage

Responding to the Construction Labor ShortageAccording to a May 5, 2017 report from Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), the construction labor shortage is improving but is still a challenge in many parts of the country. Since the end of the Great Recession, the construction market has picked up significantly but not all qualified craftsmen and women have returned to the industry. In addition, many states and communities have cut funding to technical training for young workers.

As a result, the construction industry is short about half a million workers, according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal. The newspaper goes on to report that insufficient labor for construction demand drives up the cost of some construction projects.

LaForce can help alleviate some of the labor shortfalls experienced by general contractors. For example, our door hardware pre-installation* capabilities can greatly reduce the time needed for hanging doors on-site. We recently completed a project where the general contractor compared pre-installed and traditionally installed doors. The customer found that when LaForce pre-installed hardware, it reduced on-site door installation labor costs by 60%. In conjunction with this service, many customers opt to have LaForce provide pre-finished** doors. This alleviates on-site labor that can slow job progress. Combining both of these services results in pre-finished doors with pre-installed hardware, reducing on-site labor needs.

Can the construction labor shortage be solved? There is no easy answer. But through innovations like LaForce’s door hardware pre-installation and door pre-finishing services, there is hope on the horizon.

*Pre-installation is the process in which hardware such as hinges, door closers, exit devices, locks, electrified hardware, and flat goods are installed onto the doors prior to shipping to the jobsite. Watch our video to see how the entire process can save time, help meet deadlines, and provide a hassle-free jobsite installation.

**Pre-finishing is when doors are painted in a controlled environment prior to shipping to the jobsite, which is advantageous from both quality and efficiency standpoints.