Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Ventilation System Testing Methods

Carrying out regular ventilation system testing to keep air supplies clean and safe is a vital task which requires specialist knowledge and experience. Tecomak regularly tests the ventilation systems used in many different environments. These range from medical and educational facilities to research laboratories and industrial plants.

We use different testing methods to suit the particular type of ventilation system, including those used for clean processes and those used to control hazardous substances  such as fume cupboards and LEV systems. Our fully qualified, professional engineers carry out tests in accordance with all relevant regulatory standards, and can also issue certificates. Here is a look at some of the methods used.

Ventilation System Testing  – Click here to find out about our specialist services

Air Change Rate Measurements

Air change rates are a key measurement of airflow performance of a controlled space. Higher air change rates will dilute airborne contaminants more quickly ensuring protection of the occupants or process being performed in the space. In cleanroom facilities this is one of the tests used to validate rooms licensed by the MHRA for pharmaceutical production. It is also used to test hospital ventilation systems to ensure bacteriogical contaminants are kept below a safe level. In laboroatires and chemical storage areas  minimum air change rates are recommended to ensure background levels of hazardous fumes and vapours are controlled well below the statutory exposure limits.

Air change rate measurements require the room volume to be determined and the volume flow rate of air entering (via ceiling grilles for example) or being extracted from the room (via fume cupboards) the room to be measured. 

The air change rate is simply the flow rate, often recorded in cubic metres an hour  divided by the volume of the room.

Differential Pressure Testing
Differential pressures between rooms within a facility ensures clean spaces remain clean and dirty or contaminated spaces do not spread contamination to surrounding areas.  A cleanroom will be maintained at positive pressure to surrounding areas whilst a containment laboratory will be maintained at a negative pressure.

It is essential that in any clean room the air moves in the right direction with the air pressure pushing out from the clean room to non-sterile areas outside, rather than in the opposite direction, which could risk bringing in contamination.

A containment laboratory however works in reverse having a relative pressure below surrounding areas to ensure any air leakage is into the lab and not out which could result in the escape of a hazardous substance.

Differential pressure measurements are taken using a micromanometer and the unit of measurement is a Pascal.

Biological Sampling
Medical facilities such as operating theatres are among the premises where biological sampling is vital. It is often  carried out as part of the annual HTM 03-01 verification of ventilation systems in these settings. Sampling can be carried out remotely while the operating theatre is empty and again when it is in use. One of the methods used is active air sampling, which monitors levels of micro-organisms in the air, while another is settle plate sampling. Biological sampling is also needed in pharmaceutical research laboratories and clean rooms

Filter Testing

HEPA filters are used within a  ventilation system to remove airbourne particulate (fine dust) and particules that maybe be harbouring microbilogical contaminants. They are fitted to both air supply systems  to ensure air quality entering a cleanroom for example but also of extract systems fitted to safety cabinets and containment laboroatroes.HEPA filters are fragile and can be easiliy damaged or disturbed susch that air quality is not maintained at its intended level. Reguare integrity testing is therefore required for compliance.  HEPA filters are scan tested with a photometer or particle counter to ensure there are no local leaks across the face of the filter caused by media damage or around the perimeter due to a damaged seal or incorrect fitment within its housing.  The most common test standard being ISO 14644-3:2005.

Carbon filters are used to remove hazardous gases and vapours usually on exhaust systems from fume cupboards. They also require regular testing to ensure they have adequate efficiency. The type of test conducted will depend on the substance(s) being controlled. In the case of re-circulating fume cupboards BS7989:2001 provides suitable test procedures.

Airflow Pattern Testing / Airflow Visualisation
Airflow pattern testing or visualisation is an important qualitative means of assessing the effectiveness of a ventilation system in a local area of controlled zone. For example, Local exhaust ventilation (LEV) systems need to be checked that they fully capture the hazardous emission being controlled. Often air velocities measurements will not detect eddies, turbulence and reverse flow that can be readily identified by means of visualisation.

Airflow Velocity Measurements
Airflow velocities are a quantitative means of determining ventilation performance and often acceptance critiera will be specified by the relevant standard. The HSE for example recommend minimum airflow veloicities for LEV systems in their guidance document HSG 258.

Airflow velocities are measured in the ductwork of a system to accurately determine flow rate.

Inspection of Physical Components
Visual examination of the various components is an important part of the ventilation system appraisal process. LEV systems (this includes fume cupboards and safety cabinets) must be thoroughly examined atleast every 14 months for compliance with the COSHH regulations.  Other test standards will make specific reference to the scope of the inspection with fume cupboards used in schools, under Building Bulletin 88, we need to visually inspect both the cupboard structure, sash system,  services and the complete extract system. In the case of ducted industrial fume cupboards BS EN 14175 Part 4 defines the inspection and maintenance requirements. 

Inspection and Calibration of Alarm Systems

Airflow monitoring alarm systems within ducted industrial fume cupboards  and other LEV systems need to be regularly checked for correct operation and calibrated when required. The same applies to room pressure alarms installed to microbiological containment laboratories, and any other facility where monitoring alarms have been fitted to warn of potentially hazardous low airflow or room pressures. As well as carrying out calibration of n alarm systems, Tecomak can also carry out upgrades and install new systems  where necessary.

Consistent and accurate ventilation system testing is crucial to the safe and reliable operation of all systems that protect occupants, the environment or quality assured products and research.

System owners need to be confident that the people carrying out the testing are competent and have sufficient expertise to provide the best advice and guidance. Tecomak have highly trained, experienced and fully qualified staff who can test all your systems, so there is no need to call in a number of different contractors. We are also able to combine testing with ventilation system maintenance and certification, thus minimising any downtime.

Ventilation System Maintenance – Contact Tecomak to find out how we can help your organisation.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Points to Consider When Choosing Boarding House Furniture

Tecomak Furniture Solutions are experts at designing and installing boarding house furniture, as well as furnishings for hotels, B&Bs, guest houses and hostels of all kinds. We combine industry knowledge with appealing design to produce solutions providing customers with comfort and reliability. Our range is contemporary, cost-effective and built to last.

Boarding House Furniture – Click the link to find out more about our service.

Boarding House Furniture Requirements
There are various requirements to consider when choosing furniture for guesthouses, school boarding houses and university or college halls of residence. Here we will look at some of the key points to consider.

Durability – Boarding houses may be working on lower margins than other types of hotel and owners need to know their investment will last, perhaps for decades. This means quality is an essential consideration. Buying cheaply made furniture might seem to save money in the very short term, but is a poor investment, as such items will quickly wear out and need to be replaced.

Space – Careful space planning is often needed to get in all required fittings into a room, for instance in the case of dormitory furniture, or with a small student bedroom which needs to include a desk and other equipment as well as a bed. The same space considerations are likely to apply elsewhere in the building, for instance in the reception area, sitting and eating areas and kitchen facilities.

Regulations – There are various rules affecting furniture in public spaces, including fire safety regulations. Even where there are no specific legal requirements, it is important that all kinds of boarding house furniture comply with the highest safety standards, to provide peace of mind to all concerned.

Design Appeal – Furniture in a hostel or similar establishment is likely to be in constant use and so needs to be functional, but that does not have to mean that it should be boring or depressing. Combining practicality with simple but great design is key to creating hotel furniture which will have a wide appeal. This is obviously important for boarding houses intended for occupation by students; but it is also commercially essential for guesthouses, to attract better rates and make visitors feel comfortable and welcomed.

Not Just Furniture – As well as beds, chairs and tables, more is needed to make a space work in a boarding house. Other elements which need thinking about include utilities such as power and lighting. The layout of these needs to be carefully considered, for instance to ensure that everyone using the space can have access to technology and networking as required.

How Tecomak Furniture Solutions can Help
Tecomak Furniture Solutions addresses all these points, and provides an all-encompassing service. We pride ourselves on manufacturing and supplying quality hotel and school bedroom furniture which is built to give great service for many years to come, and meets all the specific requirements for these sectors.

Lasting Qualities – Our furniture is all manufactured from modern materials and created to stand up to daily use. It will obviously be necessary to replace mattresses more quickly in boarding houses than in some other types of establishment. However, other items, such as desks, chairs and tables, can be expected to last for much longer.

Layout – To help you to make the most of the space you have available, we will take time to visualise how each room and area should best be laid out, using all our expertise in space planning. After an initial briefing meeting, we will create both 2D and 3D designs of how the finished area will look. We can also provide space-saving hotel bedroom furniture which combines a number of functions, for instance with a unit combining a desk, wardrobe and bed.

Compliance – Tecomak have many years of experience of designing and manufacturing boarding house furniture. All our work is fully compliant with relevant regulations, including CRIB 5 for upholstery, and not forgetting any electrical installations, which will be carried out to NECEIC standards. We can advise on choice of furniture and equipment which is suitable from a health and safety standpoint.

Style – Choice of modern materials and colours can give an up to date and cheerful, attractive result, while still keeping within budget. For instance, Tecomak's range of school bedroom furniture features bright colours and clean lines which can be shaped to fit the specific room and make the most of any particular features, such as alcoves.

One Stop Supplier – Tecomak can project manage the whole installation, including stripping out old fittings and materials. Our service also includes space planning, designing and installing the new boarding house furniture and carrying out all utilities work. This means you will have a single contractor to deal with and will simplify the whole process of refitting your boarding house, since you will not have to deal with different trades and arrange when they need to be on site.

Boarding House Furniture – Get in touch for details of our expert service

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Choosing School Science Lab Furniture

There are many different types of school science lab furniture to choose from and it can be difficult for schools, colleges and universities to decide between the different designs and products on the market to meet needs of specific students and curriculum areas.

Here we will focus on some of the different requirements we come across at Tecomak Furniture Solutions, and describe what types of design would be appropriate.

School Science Lab Furniture  – Click here for more information.

The Importance of Requirements-Led Design
A new school lab might look good from a surface point of view, but if it doesn't support the needs of your students and your curriculum, then it won't produce the educational results you are hoping for and won't be good value for money. An efficient school lab design needs to be tailored to suit both the types and ages of students and the subjects being taught. 

Many schools will have a good idea of the layout they require, but others may need help in understanding what is possible in modern educational lab design, especially if they currently have an older-style laboratory in need of a complete rethink. Tecomak Furniture Solutions are experts, not just in installing chosen school science lab furniture, but in taking time to discuss clients' needs and understand what advantages different design options can give them.

Is the Lab used for Different Subjects and/or Age Groups?
Often a school lab has multiple functions, for instance, serving for both chemistry and biology sessions, or for both older and younger pupils. In this situation, there will be a need for school lab furniture giving greater flexibility. Where the room often has to be changed around, there is likely to be a greater need for storage facilities. There may also be a call for mobile furniture – either styles of lab benching which can be rearranged easily, or carts which can be used for transporting text books and equipment.

We offer different types of standard educational laboratory furniture, including cantilever furniture, which is particularly flexible in terms of storage and so may be a good choice for a lab with multiple uses. Island benches can be used for a mix of practical and theoretical work, while pod designs can also help to make the lab adaptable. Tables can either be arranged around a pod, providing services such as gas and power, or moved to face the teacher when needed, for instance during theory sessions.

What Storage and Preparation Areas Are Needed?

All school labs will need storage built in, but how much depends on the type and size of items to be stored. Another question is whether secure storage is required and, if so, who needs to be able to access it. Tecomak's pedestal furniture is the most economical of our laboratory benching designs, and offers under-bench storage in the cupboard units which support worktops.

Other facilities to consider include store rooms for chemicals and equipment, together with areas where preparation can be carried out for a demo, away from the main teaching area. If no dedicated space is available, a good solution may be for part of the classroom area to be used, with lockable storage or partitioned areas being included in the laboratory design.

What are the Numbers of Students and Styles of Lessons?
Knowing the maximum number of students to fit into a lab will often dictate the type and arrangement of benching and seating. Before designing a lab, it is also important to look at whether this number is likely to expand at all in the future. If so, it may be necessary for the lab design to factor that in. This could potentially save on the costs of a future lab refurbishment.

If science lessons are shorter and mostly based around practical work, students may not be sitting down in the same place for any length of time, so basic stools could be a suitable choice for seating. However, if there are longer and theory based lessons within the lab setting, where students are sitting most of the time, the seating needs to be more comfortable and provide greater support.

What are the Requirements for Power, IT and Ventilation?
Services are a vital part of any school lab design, and in the modern world these include IT as well as traditional utilities like electricity, gas and water. To get power and networking services throughout room, peninsular benching is often ideal, with a design which starts at the walls and works inwards.

Another question to consider is whether the curriculum requires a fume cupboard and, if so, how intensively it will be used. Tecomak can advise you on this and factor in finding a suitable site for fume cupboards and associated ventilation routes, taking into account visibility for the class as well as safety and airflow.

Tecomak's school science lab furniture is all built to last, with quality standards which mean it will prove cost-effective. We have more than 35 years of experience and will project manage your installation, ensuring that your new lab design offers high performance for staff and students alike. 

Tecomak Lab Furniture –  Find out more about our service.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Improving Student Performance Through School Lab Refurbishment

At Tecomak Furniture Solutions, we strongly believe that a school's educational results can be influenced by the quality of the physical environment – and carrying out a school lab refurbishment can contribute to this. Good teaching is obviously vital, but so is having the facilities which allow both teachers and pupils to demonstrate their skills to the full.

Here we will explore the link between a good school science lab design and educational performance.
School Lab Refurbishment – click here to get started.

Setting Expectations
Psychology experiments carried out in educational settings have repeatedly shown that students tend to live up, or down, to the expectations of teachers. Tatty, broken or poorly laid-out school science furniture can send out a message that expectations are low – something that students will pick up on subconsciously.

Poor working conditions may also have an effect on teaching staff, who could feel less than motivated by their environment. There could even be a risk that some might decide to move to another school with better-equipped laboratories. With a shortage of teachers in science subjects, heads will be keen to hang on to key staff, and a school lab refurbishment could help to do this.

Presenting a Cool Image

Many governments have identified the need to switch children on to science at a young age, and experts say that having an image of science as "cool" and exciting is an important factor in achieving this. A school lab is most young people's first direct encounter with science – so it needs to engage and excite in a way which is meaningful to them.

Modern designs, sleek surfaces, injections of colour and innovative workstation design and layout all say "this is a cool place to be", and can help to inspire students with enthusiasm for their work.

Minimising Distractions
Teachers know that half the battle in education is in acquiring and then maintaining student focus on the salient points of a lesson. Any source of distraction undermines this focus and for some students will prevent material being properly taken in.

This could result from apparently trivial matters such as wobbly seating, being jammed too close together with other students or being too hot or too cold. We can discuss with you how to create an educational lab where all these problems are removed and students are able to concentrate on their work.

Maximising Durability
Broken school science lab benches, seating, taps or power sockets give a bad image, but can also create other problems beyond those of appearance. Inadequate equipment will have a damaging impact on the educational experience, with students having to share facilities or even not being able to carry out specific experiments within the curriculum.

Enhancing Visibility

If a student cannot easily see what is being shown or written about a subject, then this limits their ability to engage with the material and understand it. An older school lab in need of refurbishment may have a layout making it hard for pupils at the back to see demos carried out by teaching staff and  technicians. However, a new lab design can include elements such as demo stations or a raised platform making it easier for experiments to be visible to everyone.

A modern school laboratory design will also include provision for visual aids such as slides and overhead projectors, together with the correct lighting to enable material to be seen. The room layout needs to be designed with a specific curriculum in mind. Our teams will discuss this fully with school staff to make sure your laboratory is tailored to your requirements and to the subject  – or subjects – being taught.

Enhancing Interaction
Where students need to work together in groups, it is very helpful if there is a flexible room layout allows them to do this easily, for instance with tables arranged around pods carrying services, which can be moved to face the front as and when required. Tecomak's modular school science furniture can be configured as needed, taking into account different styles of teaching and working.

Supporting IT
Most school subjects of today involve the use of computers or tablets in some form, and science teaching is no exception to this rule. This means an up-to-date educational lab needs not just water and gas taps, but enough electrical sockets to easily accommodate individual computers. Equally vital are data connections to allow group networking and internet access, so that technology can easily be incorporated into science lessons.

Whether you are looking for a general school laboratory refurbishment or a chemistry, physics or biology lab design, Tecomak can deliver and manage the project throughout. We are also able to include specialist items such as laboratory fume cupboards if required.

School Laboratory Refurbishment –  follow the link to find out more.

Monday, 3 March 2014

School Science Lab Furniture – Not Just Benches and Seating

Lab benching and stools are perhaps the most obvious aspects of school science lab furniture, along with associated facilities such as sinks, water and gas taps and power sockets. But a well-equipped school science laboratory will benefit from a wide range of other types of furniture to help the lab support learning more effectively. As part of the design process, Tecomak Furniture Solutions can help you to find the right combination of items to ensure your laboratory gives top performance and learning flexibility.

School Science Lab Furniture –  follow the link to find out about our service.

Provision of adequate storage is essential for a well-organised, clutter-free and safe learning environment. This includes under-bench storage, which can be provided as part of our pedestal furniture, one of Tecomak's three modular designs for school science lab benching. It comprises worktops supported by cupboard units. Alternatively, if you choose our cantilever or suspended benching, you could have separate storage units sited in the space underneath.

Wall storage is another option, and using wall-mounted cabinets may be a good way of making the best use of your available space, leaving more floor space free and helping to enable easier cleaning. You may also want to consider lockable cabinets for greater security, in particular if there is a need to store valuable or sensitive items of equipment.

Mobile furniture

Mobile furniture items can greatly add to the flexibility of a lab and how it operates. Including mobile items is especially important when labs are used for different science subjects, or when they also have to be used for other purposes or for multiple age ranges within a school.

Items to consider include mobile workstations, which allow space to be reconfigured and can, if necessary, be put aside for other uses. Book carts allow text books to be easily moved around to different classrooms, which can help when various different classes need to be accommodated in same lab. The same applies to mobile tray storage cabinets, which can be useful to transport school science equipment and other items.

Demo carts are another valuable item, which allow a science demo to be set up independently, in a prep room away from the main teaching area and brought in when needed. This means less disruption to classes.

Fume management
A vital consideration in laying out school science labs is the management of fumes. Including a fume cupboard in your school lab will mean that a wider range of science experiments can be safely carried out. There are several different models available, including fixed and semi-mobile ducted fume cupboards, as well as mobile cupboards which can be used to serve more than one lab. Another useful piece of school science lab furniture is the Etchflo cabinet, which is designed to allow the whole etching process to be carried out in safety. As an expert contractor, Tecomak can advise you on which of these cupboards to choose and arrange the fitting for you.


Lighting is not just an afterthought, but should be considered part of the furniture, as it can significantly affect the way a lab is used. A dimly-lit lab is a recipe for disaster, since students will not be able to see their work properly and there could even be resulting accidents. Full control over lighting in a lab is essential, for instance with lights which can be turned up or down and independently switchable lighting zones. Blackout window blinds are also important to ensure optimum conditions for lighting experiments.

Flooring materials used in a lab setting need to be chemical resistant and heavy-duty. There are strict specifications for hygienic flooring which is also slip-resistant, and lab design experts can advise you on the choice of suitable materials for your particular requirements.

Audio Visual Furniture
With the growth of technology, many school science labs will need to allow space for TVs, whiteboards and projection screens, computers, projectors and printers. Suitable furniture must be included in the design to support all this hi-tech equipment. This could include wall or ceiling mountings, or fixed or mobile stands. The exact location for each item must be carefully chosen to ensure maximum visibility. Storage for supplies also needs to be remembered, to avoid the clutter of printer paper, storage media,  pens for whiteboards and remote controls, for example.

About Tecomak Furniture Solutions

When you are seeking school science furniture, Tecomak Furniture Solutions can provide a full range of fixtures and fittings, down to the last detail. Our wealth of experience means we can plan the space to include all the facilities you want, logically arranged in a way to ensure your laboratory can support a full range of lessons and activities.

School Science Furniture – get in touch for information on our products and services.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

8 Signs Your School Needs Science Lab Refurbishment

A myriad of factors are involved in a successful school science lab refurbishment. Getting these wrong can result in a lab which is not fit for purpose or may even potentially be unsafe, so it is important to choose an expert contractor. Tecomak Furniture Solutions have decades of experience in designing and installing science labs in educational establishments, from simple refurbishments to completely new installations. This means we've seen it all before and can guard against any pitfalls.

Here are just a few common design mistakes we have come across over the years, and can help you avoid. Any of these is a sign that an existing science lab needs refurbishment to give optimum performance.

Science Lab Refurbishment – click here for information.

1. Insufficient space for storage and preparation
A school science lab can be seen as a type of theatre where only some of the props, including equipment and chemicals, are needed at any one time. This means that, without adequate storage space, the lab can become unduly cluttered with equipment that has no proper home, taking up valuable space needed by students and teachers.

Having to prepare experiments within a classroom may mean the lab cannot be used for other lessons. To avoid this, technicians need space to prepare materials and demonstrations away from the main teaching area. Sometimes, materials are hazardous or fragile and need to be locked away safely. Space planning can help to create a prep area and/or locked storage space, meaning that your science laboratory refurbishment meets all these storage needs.

2. No storage for coats and bags

This may be a mundane issue, but can significantly affect the running of a science classroom. Coats and bags left on benches or chairs create clutter and can be dangerous if there are chemicals, Bunsen burners or other equipment in use. A tidy lab is essential for the safety of all students.

3. No lighting control

Some experiments require blackout conditions, for instance light experiments during physics lessons, while many others benefit from dimmed lighting. Lack of adequate window blinds can therefore limit the number of experiments and their impact. It is also essential to be able to darken the room if you intend to use projectors for teaching. Existing window blackouts can become torn or tatty, but this issue is easily solved with the installation of properly designed blackout blinds.

4. Broken furniture
Daily use by students can put ordinary benching and seating under great strain. Wobbly stools and chipped worktops can be a safety issue, as well as generally giving a poor impression. Educational establishments are always under pressure to save costs, so it can be tempting to choose the cheapest furnishings, but this may end up costing more if such items wear out quickly. Tecomak uses quality materials, while at the same time bearing in mind your need to stick to a budget.

5. Broken utilities
Broken power or gas outlets pose a safety risk and can have severe impact on teaching, meaning that students have to share the remaining stations. This limits involvement and engagement in lessons. Leaking taps can also damage the effectiveness of a lab. Of course, breakage can be down to misuse, but selection of appropriately rugged materials should mean they will be able to withstand everyday use.

6. Layout problems

In some labs laid out like traditional classrooms, only students at the front are able to see properly when the teacher demonstrates an experiment. This can create problems with engagement and potentially with discipline, as well as making it hard for all students to gain a full understanding of curriculum. This type of layout can also make collaborative working in small groups difficult to achieve.

Changing the room's layout to suit the subject being taught and the number of students can solve the problem. We will consult with you over space planning at the outset of the lab design, and look at the range of options available. Horseshoe or circular arrangements of laboratory benching are becoming increasingly popular, while a raised area at the front of a class can aid visibility.

7. No IT facilities

Computers and laptops are now frequently included in science lessons, but some older labs do not have the space and power or data connections needed. Power connections in the room may be adequate for actual science kit, such as oscilloscopes, but not for additional computers used by both staff and students. Upgrading power and data connections can easily be achieved as part of a wider science laboratory refurbishment and can transform what is possible within the classroom.

8. Design flaws

Sometimes design flaws only become clear once a lab is in use and problems start to arise. This could include siting overhead storage cabinets over a lab bench, but placing them too low, meaning Bunsen burners cannot be safely used on that bench. Putting services in the wrong place, where they cannot easily be accessed by all students, is another design problem. Proper initial consultation over a lab redesign can avoid this type of problem arising.

With many years of experience of carrying out lab design and refurbishment projects, Tecomak can work with you to ensure your lab will perform well for many years to come. We have a professional in-house team who will help you to avoid any potential problems and ensure satisfaction.

Science Laboratory Refurbishment – get in touch now to find out more.