Servicing Moveable Walls in Schools
Recognising the advantages of adaptable space within schools, colleges and universities, many education facilities now benefit from multiple moveable wall systems. Aside from helping deliver socially distanced learning, modern moveable walls allow staff to respond to daily demands, quickly creating break-out rooms for small group study or to open-up an area for teaching of larger classes. This flexibility encourages more creative teaching solutions, delivering an enhanced learning environment.
However, as the majority of moveable wall installed today are either fully or semi-automatic, it is more important than ever to safeguard your capital investment with regular servicing of the system. Carried out by a suitably trained service engineer, routine maintenance not only protects the acoustic performance and smooth operation of the wall but also ensures it is functioning within health and safety regulations.
UK market leader and partitioning experts Style, has recently undertaken service and maintenance work in a number of education establishments across Scotland, quickly rectifying small areas of wear and tear that could otherwise have led to larger repair costs in the long term.
Schools Prioritise Maintenance
The management of Scotland’s school estate has never been more important. Style’s aftercare team provides maintenance and repairs across multiple sites with annual service contracts. Recently Style secured the contact to look after the movable walls in three schools. Two were existing Style installations the third was an older product from another manufacturer.
During the first visit at the third school, Style’s technical team noticed that the moveable wall’s pass door had dropped, putting pressure on the operating mechanism and negatively impacting acoustic integrity.
Having spotted the issue as part of a detailed audit, Style’s technicians were able to resolve it quickly and efficiently while on site, preventing further damage.
“Planned maintenance through routine servicing and repair is a crucial part of managing moveable wall assets,” said Angela McGowan, Style Scotland’s sales and service manager.
“The small gap and slight misalignment of this pass door had gone unnoticed by school staff but was picked up immediately by our technicians. It’s one of those minor things that doesn’t hinder daily use of the system but can result in far greater costs if left unresolved.
“It’s for this reason we are seeing demand for service contracts grow dramatically within the education sector which relies heavily on flexible space, particularly in areas where social distancing measures may be required.”
University Maintains Acoustics Integrity
In 2016, Style installed four DORMA Hüppe Variflex moveable walls and a Skyfold, vertically rising, fully automatic moveable wall at The University of Strathclyde.
All five walls offer outstanding acoustic integrity making them integral to the effective functioning of the building, ensuring spaces can be quickly sub-divided to meet teaching/lecturing needs.
Since their installation, Style has provided routine servicing of the walls as part of a service agreement. During a recent visit it was clear that the rubber gasket on one of the Dorma walls had been damaged.
While not especially hindering the use of the wall, over time damage to a seal like this would certainly reduce acoustic performance, interfering with privacy between divided areas.
“This is another example of the sort of small, yet important repair that our technicians can carry out while on site for a service visit,” comments McGowan.
“A nominal investment in scheduled visits to carry out operational, health and safety, and acoustic checks can save thousands in the long run and in some cases, moveable walls can last in excess of 25 years if properly maintained.”
Tips for Choosing an Aftercare Provider
It is important to check that whoever is servicing your moveable walls has the authority to maintain your system and is competent to do so. Style, for example, is the sole UK supplier for both Dorma Hüppe and Skyfold moveable walls and our engineers are the only ones in the UK currently qualified to maintain these systems.
Check for an appropriate level of competence, with in-house training being CITB approved for example. Ideally engineers will hold an NVQ level two Operable wall installer certificate and have all the necessary training for access equipment such as PASMA and IPAF.
Engineers who are directly employed, rather than sub-contract engineers, helps maintain quality management systems, ensuring continuity of care over a period of years.
Geographic location of the service team will obviously determine how quickly you can expect a response to a breakdown and an engineer who arrives promptly, in a well-stocked vehicle, will cut down-time and expense. If the moveable wall is integral to smooth operations, then an emergency call-out arrangement is essential.
Contracts offering a ‘due diligence’ visual inspection may not satisfy PUWER health and safety obligations. A comprehensive examination should include checking all seals are intact and fully operational, cleaning and lubrication of track and fixings, alignment of panels and tracking system as well as a full check of any electrical components including motor and key switches, push buttons, panel contacts and controls.
“We are very proud of our UK-wide network of in-house trained engineers,” said McGowan, “and have just introduced Engineer ID cards. Offering reassurance that the technician is of the highest calibre, the cards detail all relevant personal information as well as qualifications held including current DBS status and health and safety training.