Volume 16, Issue 5 - September/October 2012

feature

London Calling
Recent Film Installations in London Offer Added Protection
by Katie O'Mara

The city of London and surrounding areas have been undergoing major renovations this summer and the city has been brimming with activity. Arguably, one of the more important additions to the city’s buildings included large-scale installations of 7-mil security film, as well as some minor sun control film. These security films, installed in select buildings in and around London Stratford, will aid in the protection of both people and property in the event of a terrorist attack or possible bombing.

“3M took part in a major tender process to help protect key city center sites and hotels across the United Kingdom such as in London, Glasgow Cardiff, Manchester, Newcastle and Coventry,” says Tim Thornton, business director of energy conservation for 3M. “As part of this tender process 3M won 100 percent of the contract to both manufacture and fit anti-shatter window film to all relevant sites across the U.K. within tight time frames. 3M worked in conjunction with a number of their approved U.K. installation partners in order to meet the demanding time lines associated with this project.”

Why Film?
Every situation and location is different, but when it comes to security film the reasons tend to revolve around protection from storms, outsiders and explosions. For the U.K., the main concern was protection from outsiders intending to harm others.

“The prime purpose was to enhance safety and security of key city sites and associated buildings in key cities across the U.K.,” says Thornton.

“There is a greater awareness of the terrorist threat here so security film use and application is more common than it is in the States,” says a dealer who worked on the project. “It is an accepted method to minimize injuries from bomb blasts to people and property and to provide safety glazing. Security film is a lot more common here in the United Kingdom and Ireland because there have been more frequent bombings over the years, especially in Northern Ireland and London. Also, government regulation [Reg. 14] requires safety film on glass in public buildings and venues that do not have laminated glass installed, so there is a lot of work from that angle. Sun control is less common here and, unlike the States, it does not have government approval as an energy saving technology. There are no rebates or incentives to have it installed. Combine that with the cooler climate, especially this summer, and the widespread lack of air conditioning and it’s a slower grind for solar control.”

Installation and Challenges
Installations on the multi-city and multi-building project were completed by a handful of dealers in the U.K. area. Among them were Applied Products, Deans Group, Filmshield, GP Systems Ltd., Guardian Glazing Films, National Window Films, Pabro Film Ltd, Pentagon Protection Plc and Solarshield.

“The main challenge was related to time pressures and also gaining access to busy sites and locations. However 3M and its installation partners successfully completed this project, drawing on their collective experience of managing and installing films on similar projects,” says Thornton.

For the many dealers involved, the challenges included adjusting to new regulations for safety, as well as being processed through security check-points.

“You can’t work on a ladder over three meters so we had to erect scaffolding or use lifts. They have a whole division here called public health and safety. We all had to wear PPE, hard hats, steel toed boots, safety glasses. Anytime you are on the site you have to wear all of this equipment,” says one of the project’s dealers. “Since it was such a high-profile event everyone had to go through several security inductions. In addition to the main security indoctrination, which included a photo ID, finger print recognition and pink badge, each site has a separate induction. Each venue’s induction would take from 10 minutes to three hours. In addition to all that, we had to do a risk analysis for each site and a method statement. It had to be in writing and include an overview of the whole project. ” Despite the challenges, the dealer says the team made it work in the time that they had.

“We were responsible for approximately 80,000 square feet and used six to eight installers,” says the dealer. “Because everything started a month later than originally planned, we were really spread out. They wanted someone working at each site, which isn’t the most productive and efficient way to tackle large scale projects. I wanted to concentrate all my forces at one site—knock it out—then on to the next one. They were panicking and worried we wouldn’t be able to finish in time. We eventually finished Earl’s Court and the Plaza Hotel doing it their way and then I was able to pool all my installers to focus on the other venues. We had only six days left to finish [more than] 20,000 square feet and 95 percent of it required lifts and booms. I thought, ‘stand back and watch how it’s supposed to work.’ It looked like an ant farm and we knocked it out in time. We finished on Friday the 13th—who says that’s an unlucky day?”

Global Recognition
The recognition of window film as a retrofit solution gives the industry additional legitimacy and spreads the word about window film. “This has helped to increase the visibility and understanding of the benefits that window films can offer to a range of commercial buildings including both safety and security as well as for solar control to help address energy cost and occupant comfort,” says Thornton. “This is especially important as many of these companies have multiple sites and locations globally.”


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