Include Installation Ease When Choosing Office Furniture Systems

By: Christopher Carter

Executives responsible for purchasing decisions involving new or expanded office furniture systems quite naturally get caught up in colors, styles and designs. And so they should, for these are the visual elements of the purchasing decision - what staff and visitors see when working in or visiting their organizations.

Yet one of the most important of the many buying criteria is what lies beneath - namely systems furniture construction details. From a simple workstation to an enterprise-wide new build or remake involving private offices, conference rooms and reception areas, construction details determine whether the initial installation, along with inevitable moves, adds and changes (MACs) will be a dream or nightmare.

Mark Bassil, Vice President of systems furniture manufacturer MAiSPACE, based in Mt. Olive NJ, puts it this way: "Buyers can be blinded by visual impressions and thereby be tempted to sacrifice quality construction for appearance in order to make the budget numbers. What they overlook is the fact that the very process of moving poorly constructed systems furniture into a building can cause their structural elements to distort. This poses an immediate challenge to the installers," he says. "Time spent trying to make things right - that is, make components fit together - can throw the project timetable out the window. Subsequent MACs become progressively difficult or perhaps impossible simply because components no longer fit together."

MAiSPACE has addressed installation ease since it was established in 1993 as a designer and manufacturer of superior quality systems furniture offered at prices as much as 40% below some of the world's best-known brands. "MAiSPACE is a name based on the contract furniture industry's term 'Modular Architectural Interiors,'" explains Bassil. "What sets us apart in addition to our attractive price points is our integrating plug-and-play voice, data and power cabling systems into the structural elements. This further facilitates installations and MACS, and simplifies processes to the point where company staff, after a minimum of training, can handle MACs moving forward."

Construction Quality Starts Behind the Panels

From a construction standpoint, the MAiSPACE product starts with a 3 ? inch wide frame constructed of 16-gauge cold-rolled steel to provide strength and rigidity, allowing it to remain distortion-free during installation and later MACs. To demonstrate this, a MAiSPACE panel configuration composed of 8-foot panel frames stacked 10 feet high and supported by two 24" return panels was rated to 2.5 tons on the work surface in a test conducted by Underwriters Laboratories.

"This is the highest load rating in the industry," Bassil comments. "That strength also means the load-bearing panel frames can be used to build walls from 30 inches to 14 feet in height. Panel height can be increased without removing existing panel frames or disturbing power, voice and data cabling, a pillar in the MAiSPACE value proposition in terms of installation ease as well as reduced product and labor costs."

Knockdown and ready-to-assemble (RTA) framing components equipped with self-leveling connections simplify moving elements into and throughout the building, reducing assembly costs and the number of framing components required. "For example," explains Bassil, "only two horizontal sub-assemblies plus two shared vertical uprights are required to support panel frames up to 8 feet wide. Frames can easily be added to or removed from runs without disturbing adjacent structures."

Panel segments are constructed from 24-gauge steel for exceptional durability and effective sound dampening. "This allows us to provide a .80 NRC and a 35 STC rating, the highest the industry," Bassil says.

Taking the Complexity out of Cabling Systems

"Many if not most systems furniture designs today treat vital voice, data and power cabling infrastructure as an afterthought," Bassil comments. "This is unfortunate, because bringing information to the workstation and supporting a collaborative work environment is what defines today's communications-intensive businesses. Indeed," he says, "with the only constant being change, complex or poorly designed cabling systems provide an unwanted and unnecessary impediment to new installations and reconfigurations. MAiSPACE addresses this head-on."

The company's patented zone distribution system includes plug-and-play connectors, lay-in cabling and the largest cable capacity in the industry. With a 4-Circuit, 8-Wire system, it supports any network or power requirements needed by customers today, but is designed to grow and change with business. "Managing voice, data, and power cabling is a snap with MAiSPACE because cable runs are laid in behind lift-off panel segments, not bundled and fished through structural elements," Bassil says. "Office reconfiguration time is reduced from days to hours without disrupting the entire network."

MAiSPACE conforms to telecommunications industry standards for horizontal cabling systems in open offices. Standard belt line access and easily accessible consolidation points provide an interconnection between work area outlets and telecommunications closets creating a zone distribution system. Unrestricted cable pathway access simplifies changes to the existing network. Factory-terminated and tested modular cable assembles in copper or fiber support plug and play office reconfigurations. A wide variety of cable types are available to meet specific customer needs. "This includes Category 7 cabling, which is available for data-intensive and video applications, surpassing all current industry standards," Bassil notes.

All This and Beauty Too

Another pillar in the MAiSPACE value proposition is its broad range of choices in colors, textures and finishes. Easily removable panel segment options include laminate, Coverseal, veneer, painted metal, embossed steel, brushed stainless steel, airflow, clear glass, frosted glass, or textured glass, fabric, tackable/acoustical, power/data, marker board and paper management. Segments are designed to facilitate access to the MAiSPACE lay-in cable management system and are available up to 6 feet in length.

"Our objective is to provide customers with beautiful and functional offices without sacrificing affordability or performance," Bassil concludes. "Moreover, we commit to meeting project time frames, quick turnarounds and fast resolutions to revisions. These services are free with a signed purchase order or order placement."

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