Case study: How Britplas adjusted its testing regime to export Safevent windows to the US

How UK manufacturers are taking advantage of the burgeoning international healthcare market

The organisation

The Green Mountain Psychiatric Care Center (GMPCC) is an eight-bed Level I inpatient psychiatric unit located in Morrisville, Vermont.

It is under the control and supervision of the Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health and is a professionally-staffed facility providing care and treatment for individuals experiencing all levels of acute psychiatric illness. GMPCC also provides secure observation, care, and treatment of individuals sent by courts for determination of competency and sanity.

The challenge

Britplas chairman, Kevin Gorman, held initial talks with Francis Pitts from the New York-based architectural practice, Architecture+, back in 2012. Pitts visited the UK shortly afterwards to undertake a premises visit to Britplas. During this time Gorman introduced Pitts to the Design In Mental Health Networks’ ‘Better Bedroom’, based in the main showroom area at Britplas’ Warrington offices. Pitts was greatly impressed with the facilities and the design and integrity of the Safevent window. However, he did advise that the tests devised for the UK market would not be acceptable for inclusion onto the supply chain for the New York Office of Mental Health (NYOMH).

Product testing

Britplas proceeded to undertake the relevant rigorous testing required for the US markets before tendering for the Green Mountain project. Product testing was carried out at Architectural Testing based in York, Pennsylvania.

  • Air, water, structural testing (AAMA/WDMA/CSA101/I.S.2/A440) for an AW rating
  • ASTM F588 Forced Entry Resistance
  • Human Impact ‘Drop Test’

The Human Impact ‘Drop Test’/2000ft-lb test simulates the impact of a 200 pound person moving at 25 feet per second. The test uses an astonishing 200lb pendulum-style impactor raised to a height of 10ft and struck at numerous locations on the frame, glass and visomesh. The Safevent window has been tested many times in the UK, but no tests have involved such demanding impacts. The video of this test can be accessed via Britplas’ YouTube channel.

Scope

The project scope included:

  • Product(design specific for US requirements)
  • Testing(testing specific for US market)
  • Design drawings and product approvals
  • Manufacture, shipping & delivery
  • Site Supervision of local specialist installers

Project objectives

The objectives of the project were:

  • To provide a world-class fenestration solution for a pioneering, new-build hospital
  • To provide a safe and healthy environment and improved facilities for service users and staff
  • To create well designed products to a high architectural standard
  • To provide professional project management and site supervision to ensure a high standard of completion

Tendering

Britplas was invited to tender for the fenestration after a period of selective tendering. During this period the architects ascertained that Britplas was the only company that could fulfil all the required criteria within the tender package.

Andy Cunliffe, estimating manager at Britplas worked closely with commercial director, John Blackwell, and the client, Vermont DMH, to ensure a full and precise cost breakdown.

Following the successful bid and a series of consultations to ensure Britplas’ management systems and health, safety and quality procedures were US compliant, Britplas was formally appointed to the project.

Design, manufacture and installation

Britplas has its own qualified design team to handle all aspects of fenestration design work. The allocated design/approval period of four weeks was successfully completed and manufacture of products followed.

Manufactured products were batched in order of requirements from the main contractor. All items were transported to the shipping agent for protective packaging and subsequently loaded into containers and shipped via New York directly to site.

Localised experienced labour provided by the main contractor was predominantly used throughout the installation. However, Britplas did provide professional site supervision and fitting back-up when required to ensure that the high standard required by Britplas was always met.

Commercial director, John Blackwell, said: “This was a particularly intensive project, not only to manage, but actually bring to the point of tender. The completed project clearly demonstrates that Britplas is a world market leader in this demanding and specialist area of fenestration.”

The team

  • Client: Vermont Department of Mental Health
  • Architect: Architecture+
  • Main contractor: Engelberth Construction
  • US testing house: Architectural Testing
  • US specialist glazing partner: LTI Group Pittsfield USA

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