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Quality: Metal Inspection Across Production Processes

Lou Blaiotta on Monday, December 11, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

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Huberney Rendon,  Bridgeport  Shop  Supervisor

Huberney Rendon, Bridgeport Shop Supervisor, inspects punched steel.

In my last blog post of the year, I wanted to take all this talk of Quality and manufacturing defect-free products down to a practical level with a concrete – or in this case steel – example. In the manufacture of our products, we use a lot of steel and other metals. When we are working with metals, metal inspection throughout the production process is key to manufacturing high quality products.

Before Production

As Columbia Elevator prides itself on building products without defects, we must be certain to use the best products for the job. A wide variety of defects, such as pinholes, inclusions, blowholes, scales, scratches, pimples, and roll mark, can be found in metal before we even start our work.

Quality Step #1: Metal Surface Inspection

  • Inspect sheet metal, laminate, or other materials you handle for surface defects before you begin to work with it.
  • If you encounter surface defects that look like they will be problematic in our production of a quality product, report the defects to your Lead Man or Foreman.
  • The Foreman will work with the Purchasing Agent to be certain that the quality of steel we receive from a vendor is of the quality we expect.

Metal Inspection During Production

As we work with metals, defects can occur in two other categories: Welds & Edges

  • A pre-weld inspection allows the welder an opportunity to prevent welding problems before they start instead of ‘fixing’ the problem while working by grinding out defects and reducing the mass of the steel or using excessive heat, both of which can reduce the quality of the product.
  • A post-weld visual inspection can help us determine defects in welding and edges before the metal goes to the paint shop.
  • Another post-weld check for defects such as welded joints, cuts, punctures, and scoring can be done by running a gloved hand over the potentially distressed areas; a glove will catch on any protrusions, showing that the weld is incomplete.

Quality Step #2: Weld Inspection

  • Conduct a post-weld inspection to verify the integrity of a completed weld.
  • Grinded defects should be inspected using a visual and glove test to ensure that sharp edges were not created in the process.

Metal Inspection During Transport through the Plant

Generally, a fabricated metal item moves through the production area until it is completed and then stored or shipped. As metal pieces move through the shop, damage to edges and surfaces can occur during handling. We take precautionary measures to maintain the surfaces and edges as we handle the materials, such as using appropriate techniques in the use of clamps, lifting devices, and movement of materials from one surface to the next. Additionally, it is important to wear all assigned Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) when moving fabricated metal items – especially clean gloves on newly painted surfaces!

Cleanliness is important throughout the fabrication process. Moreover, metal surface cleanliness is especially important in the painting process, which is why we always clean or wipe down metal before painting it to remove dust or metal debris that may have accumulated during cutting, welding, and handling.

After metal items have been painted and moved back to the shop floor, handling and crating are important to our being able to ship quality products. Painted parts can be handled only after the paint has cured to an acceptable level, and storage and handling of metal that is painted must be done carefully per our company procedures in order not to damage the painted finish and/or the metal itself.  

Quality Step #3: Production Department Inspection

Key to Columbia Elevator’s Quality Control standards, each production department is expected to inspect the quality of materials as they move through the factory. This ensures that we always deliver quality products to our customers.  

  • Happy Holidays to you and your family!
  • Columbia Elevator will be shut down from December 23 through January 2 so our team can enjoy holiday time with their families and friends.
  • I will be back with more Lessons in 2018!

Happy Holidays to You!

 Happy Holidays to You!


Quality Management System

Lou Blaiotta on Monday, November 27, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

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Columbia Elevator Hoistway and cab doors adHigh Quality Products
have always been a mainstay of Columbia Elevator Products. To provide our customers with the best products, we focus a spotlight on Quality!

Quality with a capital Q focuses on various factors in manufacturing according to ISO 9000:

  • Job management: defined processes and controls are followed so that products are made according to specified criteria
  • Personnel competence: knowledge, skills, experience, and qualifications of personnel are high so they can implement defined processes and controls
  • Assurance of Products: product testing is conducted to uncover defects as well as improve and stabilize processes and controls so that products go out to market per customers’ expectations

Columbia Elevator’s Quality Management Office, with help from a QMS Steering Committee made up of employees across all levels and departments, uses a Quality Management System (QMS) Manual to meet the overarching goals above. The QMS Manual documents all steps of our manufacturing process and provides evidence of our quality production steps. The manual, which is standard across all manufacturing fields, can be shared with our customers if they request to see it. 

A few of the many items that are documented in the QMS Manual:

  • History of Columbia Elevator and our product lines
  • Quality Objectives
  • QMS Planning System
  • Process Flow Charts for multiple processes across all company departments such as Engineering, Purchasing, Production, Human Resources

The QMS Committee follows our company’s commitment to continuous improvement across all departments and regularly updates our QMS Manual whenever there is a change in any of our processes. Keeping our manual up to date allows us to be a successful manufacturer with no questions asked!


Tall Stories in the Big Apple: Elevator Entrances reach New Heights! Part IV: Innovation is Standard at Columbia Elevator Products

Lou Blaiotta on Monday, November 13, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

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Columbia Elevator Entrance AdWe had a history lesson about transoms, and now it’s time to explain how we achieved the innovative design used for oversized lobby entrances like those Columbia Elevator Products supplied at WTC3, 10 Hudson Yards, and 35 Hudson Yards.

To achieve the outsized flush look in the lobby, Columbia’s solution was to overlap a 10-foot door behind a 12-foot transom. With 2 extra feet of transom extending down over the door, the desired appearance of a 12-foot transom and an 8-foot door is achieved.   As in all flush transom arrangements, the bottom part of the door was made thicker than the top, allowing the top of the door to "overlap" the transom, with the bottom of the door extending out enough to be flush with the face of the transom.

Another revolution in the design of these new entrances, with dramatic effect, was to equip them with top-to-bottom LED light fixtures within the depth or “throat” of the jamb which glow when the car arrives at the lobby. The challenge was that the architect did not want to see any of the elevator jamb. In modern masonry applications, it is common to have marble or steel plates extending directly up to the edge of the doors without any of the entrance frame in sight; but, in this situation – because the architect wanted a full 48” opening, and the maximum allowable opening width of the door frame was 48” – placing two 2-in lighting units in the left and right throats of the openings would make the opening 4” smaller.

Here, our solution was to design an unusual jamb profile, with a pocket in the entrance jambs to allow the insertion of the lights in a way that didn’t physically attach to our entrances at all because, if we made a mechanical connection to our frame, it would have violated the UL label. Instead, the frame was pocketed to allow installation of light fixtures in front of, but not touching, our frame. The trim of our jamb was made of the same material as the light fixture itself, creating the illusion that you’re looking at the frame of the light fixture, when in reality a piece of the light fixture trim is actually the elevator entrance jamb (a very skinny profile), and the rest of what you see is the light fixture itself. They’re so close together and perfectly aligned that the brain interprets it all as one big light fixture. This allowed us to create a masonry entrance with a 48-inch wide opening even though the light fixtures actually required 52 inch of width.

Another example of Columbia’s approach to architectural challenges can be found in a drywall environment just 30 blocks north of the World Trade Center at the Hudson Yards development project. Columbia received another OEM order for 10 Hudson Yards where the architect wanted the appearance of floor-to-ceiling openings in the 17-foot tall lobby, with a center-opening look that appeared as if the doors opened all the way to the top. Most often a transom is one large panel above the doors that open below, but in this case the appearance is of a 17-foot center-opening door from bottom to top.

According to code, fixed/non-operable fire-rated door panels can be used in place of a transom panel to create the illusion of a floor-to-ceiling door system. In actuality, there is one set of lower doors that open and another set of doors above it that do not open. In this situation, to satisfy requirements of the Department of Buildings under New York City code, Columbia engaged a professionally licensed engineer to conduct an analysis of design and construction as the basis for a variance. This resulted in the desired look, featuring 8 foot doors and 9 foot transoms with vertical and horizontal seams between.

Over the years, Columbia also tested and received a certificate for 48-inch wide single-speed doors, a very unusual alternative to the two-panel, center-opening doors commonly used for this width opening. At 35 Hudson Yards, for a job ordered by another major OEM that will be installed later in 2017, the requirement is for a one-panel, single-speed door in an opening 4-ft wide by 9-ft high. Since Columbia had previously successfully tested a 4-ft wide x 10-ft high opening, the doors ordered for this job will not require an oversize certificate, but instead they will simply receive a true, full UL label. In this case, the opening needed to be not only “super-tall” but also “super-wide,” to produce a service car using a single-speed door that, for several specific reasons, was being sought in this application.

Columbia Elevator has truly become a relied upon resource in the elevator industry whenever there’s a need to find solutions for innovative entrance designs. We are invited into the process early and we sit with architects and bidding elevator companies – even before the job is sold. This collaborative approach allows us to explore what’s possible, support the design of something that works in an elevator environment and can be fire-rated, while still fulfilling the architect’s far-reaching aesthetic dreams. For the World Trade Center job, we met with the architects years in advance in the conference rooms at WTC 7. At that time, with their offices overlooking that huge hole in the ground known as Ground Zero, we contemplated not only what could be possible, but also what would be a suitable tribute to and recognition of the past even though the new WTC complex buildings were going to look like nothing ever seen or built before.

I feel extremely proud of the work that every teammate at Columbia is contributing to the manufacture of the tall story jobs in NYC. Plus, we all feel a bit patriotic because the work we’ve done to contribute to the rebuild of the Ground Zero area in both WTC3 and 4. We want to build something meaningful so we don’t ever forget; moreover, Columbia is honored to be part of demonstrating America’s resolve that we are even stronger today!