Creating a Safe Outdoor Dining Experience This Winter

Creating a Safe Outdoor Dining Experience This Winter

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed a serious threat to the bar and restaurant industry. Normally a hub of social interaction, these businesses have had to shut their doors and adopt creative solutions to keep their staff and customers safe. Curbside pick-up, delivery, and outdoor seating have become the norm for the dining industry during the pandemic. But, the approach of winter makes dining outside a challenge. How can bars and restaurants create an outdoor dining experience that works during the coldest months of the year?

Safety Recommendations
First and foremost, eateries need to ensure they are maintaining an environment that is as safe as possible. Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as local regulations, serve as an important point of reference for restaurants and bars.

  • Social distancing. However a restaurant or bar is able to operate, inside dining or outside, social distancing is an important safety measure. Tables should have at least six feet of space between them.
  • Limited capacity. Social distancing can also be supported by limiting capacity. Smaller groups of people are easier to adequately space out within a restaurant or on its patio.
  • Masking. The CDC recommends the employees of bars and restaurants wear facemasks and recommends customers wear masks when they are not eating or drinking.
  • Outdoor seating. Adequate ventilation and air flow help to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, which makes outdoor seating a safer option.

Outdoor Challenges

While eating and drinking outdoors was an easy solution in the balmy months of summer, winter brings a new set of challenges.

  • Temperature. In areas with mild winters, customers might be able to wear a few extra layers and still enjoy outdoor seating. In other areas with harsher winters, restaurants are faced with the question of creating an outdoor environment warm enough to attract customers.
  • Layout. Outdoor tents may be a potential option for restaurants, but the same considerations for safe dining apply. Does the tent allow for adequate ventilation? Can tables be placed far enough apart within the tent? Enclosed tents with poor air flow and large groups are likely not a safe solution.

Outdoor Solutions

What potential solutions do restaurants have to chilly weather and layout concerns?

  • Heaters. Many restaurants and bars are adding heaters to their outdoor spaces in an effort to create a warm enough environment. Some businesses are offering blankets or suggesting customers bring their own.
  • Physical barriers. In addition to temperature control, restaurants and bars need to keep in mind proper distancing protocols. Physical barriers can be installed in outdoor spaces to divide the airspace and maintain separate, safe areas for customers. For example, Sneeze Buddy™ Social Distance Separation Panels can be used to create separate dining enclosures outdoors. Freestanding modular frames or clear or suspended panels from above with chain or cables allow restaurants to configure the panels in whatever way works best for their outdoor space.

Thermal insulated curtains can serve as a multipurpose solution: creating both separate spaces and helping to maintain a warmer temperature for customers sitting outside.
Learn more about how AmCraft’s Sneeze Buddy™ panels and insulated curtains can help the food service industry weather the winter season.

Sources:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/business-employers/bars-restaurants.html
  2. https://www.chicagobusiness.com/restaurants/outdoor-dining-tents-raise-questions-virus-safety-winter-nears
  3. https://www.amcraftindustrialcurtainwall.com/products/industrial-curtain-walls/sneeze-buddy-social-distance-separation-panels/
  4. https://www.amcraftindustrialcurtainwall.com/products/insulated-curtains/
Maintaining Social Distancing Protocols at School

Maintaining Social Distancing Protocols at School

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the term “social distancing” a regular part of our daily lexicon. Large gatherings, like sporting events and concerts, are largely postponed as we fight the spread of the virus, but many group activities remain an essential part of our lives. We need to go to the store to pick up our groceries, and kids need to get an education.

During the pandemic, the approach to schooling has been largely determined by the number of cases in an area and local restrictions. Some schools are maintaining remote learning, while others are cautiously reopening their doors and figuring out how to best maintain socially distanced learning.

Social Distance Challenges

Effective social distancing requires structure and compliance. Historically, in-person schooling has been a very social activity. Students and teachers gather together and move from classroom to classroom and then to the lunchroom and the gym throughout the day.

Disrupting entrenched behavioral patterns is a major challenge. The school administration and teachers can implement health checks, require facemasks, introduce staggered schedules, and create smaller classroom pods, but kids are still learning how to focus and control their behavior.

While it is going to take time and trial and error to learn the best way to maintain social distancing in schools, introducing physical barriers is a powerful first step.

Solutions for the Academic Setting

The threat of virus transmission has forced a radical shift in the way schools approach group learning. Recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other regulatory agencies help guide schools through this challenging environment.

What kind of solutions can be put to work in different parts of a school?

  • Classrooms. Classroom safety has always been paramount to schools. In the age of COVID-19, safety measures include maintaining adequate distance between teachers and students. For example, schools can use Sneeze Buddy social distance separation panels between desks to help keep students and teachers safe while facilitating group learning. These panels are reconfigurable, allowing schools to move them and adjust them to meet their needs.
  • Gymnasiums. School gymnasiums are large, open spaces that normally pack in hundreds of students and staff for assemblies and sporting events. Now, these spaces need to be approached differently. Industrial curtains can be used to create separate enclosures, allowing smaller groups to still use the space.
  • Cafeterias. Cafeterias are also large gathering spots for schools. Industrial curtains can be used here as they are in gymnasiums, creating smaller, enclosed areas to adhere to maximum capacity requirements.
  • Hallways. The hallway environment has always been less structured than the classroom. Students are rushing to their next classes, stopping at their lockers, and catching up with friends. But, schools still need to think about hallway safety. Industrial curtains can be set up as hallway dividers, keeping foot traffic moving in one direction. Entrances to designated areas off of hallways can also be sectioned off with curtains.
  • Buses. Bus protocols developed by Education Weekly recommend limited capacity, distanced seating, a barrier around the driver, mandatory facemasks, regular disinfection, and open windows to maintain the circulation of fresh air.

AmCraft has completed a project for a South Barrington, Illinois high school, providing curtains for the school’s cafeteria and gym. Learn more about how we can help your school follow the necessary safety precautions as the world continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sources:

  1. https://edufinance.org/content/edufinance/latest/COVID-19%20Response%20Toolkit/Edu%20-%20How%20to%20Practice%20Social%20Distancing%20in%20a%20School.pdf
  2. https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/choosing-starting-school/back-to-school/social-distancing-challenges-tips
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/schools.html
  4. https://www.amcraftindustrialcurtainwall.com/products/industrial-curtain-walls/sneeze-buddy-social-distance-separation-panels/
  5. https://www.amcraftindustrialcurtainwall.com/products/industrial-curtain-walls/
  6. https://www.edweek.org/ew/section/multimedia/school-buses-and-social-distancing-downloadable-guide.html
  7. https://www.amcraftindustrialcurtainwall.com/contact/request-a-quote/
Industrial Curtains Can Be an Effective Solution in the Highly Regulated Cannabis Business

Industrial Curtains Can Be an Effective Solution in the Highly Regulated Cannabis Business

Cannabis may not be federally legal at this point, but that hasn’t stopped the “green rush” from flourishing in states with medical and recreational programs. Still a relatively new business emerging from years of prohibition, cannabis regulations are stringent and evolving. Everyone who participates in the industry–from growers to retailers and everything in between– needs to stay abreast of local and state requirements while learning how to establish and expand their business. Learn how industrial curtain walls can play a role in making cannabis business operations run smoothly.

Challenges in the Cannabis Industry

Licensed cannabis cultivators create the raw product that is used to create consumer products, including dried flower, edibles, oils, and more. Growers face a number of challenges including pests, humidity control, and temperature control. Once cannabis is successfully harvested it has to be processed, which may occur at the same site of cultivation. Or, it might be shipped to an extraction laboratory or manufacturing facility. These licensed facilities are challenged to create consistent products at scale, which means their interiors are carefully designed and equipped. Finished products are then packaged and sent to retail locations, like dispensaries. Dispensaries need to have a welcoming atmosphere for their clients, but they also need to be able to store their products.

How Industrial Curtain Walls Can Help

Industrial curtain walls are a versatile solution that can be used in multiple different industries, including agriculture, consumer packaged goods, and retail–all of which play a role in the cannabis business. These industrial curtains can help control temperature and humidity and create effective barriers between work spaces.

Solutions for Different Cannabis Business Environments

Different environments within the cannabis business necessitate different industrial curtain solutions. See how these curtains can be effective in four major areas of the industry:

  • Cultivation facilities and greenhouses. Cannabis is grown in both indoor cultivation facilities and outdoor greenhouses. Both of these environments require exact temperature and humidity control. Industrial curtains can come in insulated variations, which can help facilities manage temperature and humidity control. Industrial curtains can even have airtight edge sealing, which can help to reduce the risk of pests.
  • Extraction laboratories. Extraction laboratories require precise conditions for the processing and extraction of cannabis. Floor-to-ceiling industrial curtain enclosures can be a cost effective way to create separate areas within a laboratory. These industrial curtains can help with air flow management, temperature control, fume and dust control, and more. The curtain walls can also be used to help create spaces for sterile testing and quality control.
  • Manufacturing facilities. Cannabis manufacturing facilities make a number of different types of products, including edibles. There are industrial curtains, both stationary and retractable, that are specifically designed for food processing facilities. These food grade industrial curtains, designed to meet FDA and USDA requirements, can be configured to create separate spaces in manufacturing facilities that make the baked goods and gummies so popular with consumers.
  • Dispensaries. Dispensaries are the retail outlets of the cannabis business. The customer-facing portion of a dispensary will typically feature educational material and information on the products available for sale, but these stores also need separate storage areas. Industrial curtain walls can be used to create separate areas for products in the back of the retail store. Dispensaries can opt for custom curtain walls with printed logos, which can maintain an aesthetic consistent with the location’s branding.

If you have a cannabis business or you are in the process of ramping up operations, you know the importance of detail. Learn more about industrial curtain wall options, how they can be used in the cannabis business, and request a quote to get started.

5 Technologies to Watch in the Manufacturing and Logistics Space

5 Technologies to Watch in the Manufacturing and Logistics Space

Human talent will remain core to the manufacturing and logistics space, but the adoption of new technology is inevitable. Whether it is to safeguard operations or improve efficiency, a variety of new technologies are well on their way to becoming commonplace in the industry. Here are five technologies to watch in the manufacturing and logistics space: 

Transportation Management Systems

Customer expectations are higher than ever, and the details of manufacturing and logistics are becoming even more complex. Transportation management systems (TMS), arising out of that challenge, are designed to manage the ins and outs of moving goods, according to TechTarget. Today, these systems are mostly cloud-based and integrated into larger enterprise resource planning and supply chain management platforms.

As the market for this technology grows at a rapid pace, users are finding significant return on investment. For example, a survey conducted by ARC Advisory Group found that companies using a TMS reported approximately 8 percent freight savings.

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a vast system of technologies that enable the transfer of data. Things like wearable smart watches and smart home appliances are examples of how people use the IoT in everyday life. The IoT is already taking on a specific application in the manufacturing and logistics industry through the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The IIoT is made up of devices specifically designed to improve processes in the industrial space. For example, smart sensors can help capture and analyze data that be used to improve efficiency and quality control, according to IoT Agenda.

The global market value for the IIoT is expected to reach $933.62 billion by 2025, according to a report from Million Insights.

Blockchain

Blockchain is a major buzzword in nearly every industry. This shared digital ledger technology offers a secure way to track and record transactions, according to IBM.  Its potential applications in the manufacturing and logistics space are many. For example, blockchain could provide more transparency in the supply chain by providing a record of every single time an asset is moved all the way from manufacture to sale, according to Supply Chain 24/7. The technology is already being used in the space and it will only become more prominent going forward.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) adds virtual elements to an existing environment. While it has multiple applications in entertainment – think about the Pokémon Go app craze – AR is also making headway into the manufacturing and logistics industry. This technology has the potential to improve employee training and drive more efficiencies. For example, AR devices could show employees information on package contents and weight, cutting down the time it takes to find this information manually, according to Venture Beat.

Already large companies are integrating AR devices into their manufacturing processes. Boeing is using AR headsets in its wire assembly process, which has resulted in a 25% reduction in assembly time and reduced errors to approximately 0 percent, according to Transparency Market Research.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) sounds like a futuristic concept, but this technology is making huge strides today. Machine learning, a type of AI, could streamline the entire supply chain process by offering real-time insight into process management and productivity. The introduction of autonomous vehicles, an iteration of AI-driven technology, could be a game changer for transportation and delivery in the manufacturing and logistics industry, according to Supply Chain 24/7.

AmCraft Manufacturing is a leading supplier of Industrial Curtain Walls for the manufacturing and logistics industry. Contact us today and speak with one of our curtain specialists regarding your space separation, temperature control or noise reduction needs.

How to Recognize the Key Features of a Quality Industrial Curtain Wall

High Quality Industrial Curtain Wall

In this day and age, a consumer is faced with many different purchasing options. For every product that you may want to buy, you can likely find a healthy amount of companies that offer it. Often times, deciding which company to purchase a product from can be just as big of a decision as deciding what product to purchase. Industrial curtain wall products are no exception to that rule. Like many other products, there are a variety of factors that impact the quality of an industrial curtain wall, and will likely play a part in your decision of which to purchase.

When spending money, usually a consumer wants to know how far their dollar will take them. In other words, how long can I expect this product to last? And are there certain brands that are expected to last longer than others? For industrial curtain systems, it is important to consider the quality of the material that a curtain is made with and how well the curtain is constructed. Different thicknesses of vinyl provide additional strength. For instance, a 14 oz. thick vinyl is going to be stronger than a 10 oz. thick vinyl.

In addition to considering the strength of the base material, you should also look at how the industrial curtain is put together and reinforced. Important factors here include, but are not limited to:

  • Is the top edge of the industrial curtain reinforced? This is where all the weight of the system will hang from, so it is important that this is a strong finished edge. Reinforcing can be done with webbing, additional vinyl material, dive belt, or many other strong fabric reinforcement agents.
  • What type of stitching is used? For example, a lock stitch is far more secure than a chain stitch. With a chain stitch, if you pull out one loop, the entire row of stitching can unravel and come undone. With a lock stich, you can break a few loops of the stitching without it impacting the rest of the row.
  • How many rows of stitching reinforce each edge? If an edge is sewn shut with two lines of stitching, as opposed to one, it will be a more secure edge.
  • Are joints between pieces of vinyl material welded together or sewn together? A welded edge is typically stronger and has the added benefit of being waterproof.

All of these items can give you a clue as to the quality of the industrial curtain that you are considering purchasing.

One of the best, and most easily attainable, gauges of quality is the warranty that a company offers on its industrial curtain systems. The amount of time that a manufacturer stands behind the craftsmanship of its product is a testament to how long they feel it should last, and should be a huge clue to the consumer as to the quality and expected life span of your investment. If the manufacturer that makes the industrial curtain will not stand behind a long warranty, why would you consider purchasing it and expect it to last?

Overall, when considering purchasing an industrial curtain solution for your facility, there may be different companies in the marketplace that sell similar curtain products. However, as with any other purchase, if you take the time to compare the quality of your options, you should feel confident in selecting one that best fits your needs and can span the test of time for you.

At AmCraft manufacturing, we make sure to incorporate all of the above listed aspects of a quality industrial curtain into the production of our products. The top edges of our curtains are reinforced with heavy weight webbing, clear visual panels are welded into the curtains, Velcro is sewn onto the curtain with four lines of stitching, and we use a lock stitch to sew all edges of the curtain. We also offer a 6 year warranty on manufacturer defects of our products, which is one of the longest warranties offered in the industrial curtain industry.

For additional information on our products, and to obtain pricing and samples, contact one of our industrial curtain specialists today!

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The Benefits of Industrial Curtains for Your Dock

Many industrial facilities have interior loading docks, but when the overhead door is open and a truck is in the dock, all the outside weather comes into the facility. This can increase your heating and cooling costs; let in dirt and debris that can damage your products; create unsafe conditions; and make your team miserable and less productive. Fortunately, there is a better way to stay productive and protect your dock from the outdoors.

Loading Dock Industrial Curtains

The Better Way: Industrial Curtains for Your Dock

You can use an industrial curtain wall to protect your facility when the dock door is open and the dock is in use. Industrial curtains come in a full range of sizes to meet the needs of any company. You can choose from a variety of options to get exactly the industrial curtain you need to meet your requirements. For example, industrial curtain walls are available in a variety of materials designed to stand up to various weather conditions. For instance, we usually recommend a PVC coated curtain of 18 ounces per yard or more to protect from snow, rain or other inclement weather.

Industrial curtain systems have an insulating factor rating that ranges from R-4 to R-27 depending on their thickness and other features. This enables insulated curtain wall to create a temperature differential of plus or minus 15 degrees, making them ideal for products that require refrigeration or cooling.

By keeping the cold air where it’s needed, you reduce the costs of refrigeration. The thermal barrier also keeps areas outside the refrigerated area more comfortable, improving the comfort and safety of your staff. Depending on the degree of insulation you select, industrial curtain walls can be either stationary or retractable.

Customize Your Options

Every company’s needs are different, so we offer a full range of mounting and visibility options for our curtains. You can select from several mounting options for your loading dock enclosures. They can be permanently mounted for use all year, or they can be removable so you can move them away from the dock area when you choose. It’s a simple matter to put them back in place at the change of seasons or during unexpected changes in weather conditions.

While industrial curtain wall systems can have retractable or stationary mounts, many companies choose to have a combination mounting. When one half of the curtain has a stationary mount and the other half is retractable, you have the best of both worlds for your dock enclosure system.

In areas where the dock is open to weather, you can choose to have a strip door built into loading dock enclosures to enable your team to load or unload trucks without having to move the curtain. This helps protect your inventory from the ravages of inclement weather. Protecting your inventory from outdoor weather conditions can reduce damage and spoilage, and it can save money on your HVAC spend by helping to stabilize inside temperature and humidity levels. In addition, by keeping the floor clean and dry, your team doesn’t have to worry about slips and falls on wet or slippery floors, enhancing operational safety.

If wind is an issue around your dock, an industrial curtain wall will help keep dirt and grime out while reducing noise and distractions. The curtains can be attached to the side of the dock or the floor to keep them from blowing around, helping to keep the area more comfortable, safer and cleaner than an open dock that is exposed to wind and weather conditions.

Industrial curtains for your dock can be equipped with vision panels for viewing the outside. These panels improve visibility to traffic and increase the safety of your team.

Industrial Curtains: An Ideal Solution for Every Dock

Industrial curtain walls and loading dock enclosures buffer indoor areas that are exposed or partially exposed to outside conditions. Curtains help create a barrier between environmental conditions such as wind, rain or dirt that can damage your products, hamper your business processes and even potentially endanger your staff.

Almost every company can benefit from adding an industrial curtain or loading dock enclosure. Curtains are available in many materials and with a variety of options, so you can have exactly the right curtain for your needs. We have experts on staff that can advise you on the right combination of features that meet your needs as well as your budget.

If you would like a free, no obligation quote or if you would just like to learn more about industrial curtains and loading dock enclosures–or any other AmCraft curtain wall system – Contact us today!