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.


How Food-Grade Curtains Can Help Facilities Maintain Regulatory Compliance

How Food-Grade Curtains Can Help Facilities Maintain Regulatory Compliance

When you buy the ingredients for a meal at the grocery store or pick up a prescription from the pharmacy,

you want to know that those products are safe to consume. That is why the facilities that make, handle, and distribute food and medication are overseen by regulatory bodies that help to ensure quality control and food-grade compliance. What regulatory agencies oversee food and drug safety and compliance? What kinds of facilities need to adhere to these regulations? How can industrial curtains play a role in maintaining a compliant environment?

Regulatory Oversight
Some of the major North American agencies in charge of food safety are the:

Food Processing Facilities and Pharmaceutical Plants
What kinds of facilities need to maintain compliance with these major regulatory agencies?

  • Food processing facilities. Many different types of food processing facilities are subject to regulatory requirements. For example, a facility that manages meat products must maintain USDA compliance under the agency’s food safety and inspection rules.
  • Food distribution warehouses. Once food has been processed and manufactured, it needs to be shipped to retail locations, which often means time spent in a distribution warehouse. These facilities, just like manufacturing and processing facilities, are required to maintain compliance with FDA rules on food safety.
  • Pharmaceutical plants. Compliance with FDA regulations is essential in pharmaceutical plants, whether they are making over-the-counter medications or prescription medications.

The Role of Food-Grade Curtains
Industrial curtains can be important part of a facility’s compliance strategy. They can serve as separation barriers between different areas of the facility, either installed as retractable or stationary. AmCraft’s curtains are fabricated to fit your space.

Benefits include:

  • Regulatory compliance support. AmCraft’s food-grade curtains are made to comply with specific FDA, USDA and CFIA requirements relating to physical facilities that handle food products. The curtains are also Fire Rated ASTM E-84 Class A or NFPA-701.
  • Stainless steel track system. AmCraft’s food-grade curtains are available with a stainless steel track system. Additionally, the welded construction of the curtain walls helps ensure bacteria is unable to grow.
  • Easy-to-clean. The curtains, made of PVC vinyl, are both durable and easy-to-clean.

Food processing and distribution facilities, and in some cases pharmaceutical plants, need to carefully maintain food-grade compliance. Learn more about AmCraft’s food-grade curtains and how they can help your business.


Brewing from Start to Finish: How Temperature Matters in the Beer Business

Brewing from Start to Finish: How Temperature Matters in the Beer Business

The beer market is valued at $114.2 billion, and there were more than 7,000 breweries operating in the United States in 2018, according to the Brewers Association. Each of these breweries carefully crafts their beers, starting with the raw ingredients and finishing with the branded bottling. Throughout this process, brewers need to pay careful attention to the temperature of the environment to ensure their beer captures the intended flavor and maintains that quality all the way until the end consumer takes that first sip.

Learn about the vast brewing industry, the process of making beer, and how temperature matters.

Brewery Types
Not all breweries are the same. Some offer only small batches of craft beer onsite, while others are large regional hubs that ship their beers to multiple different retail locations.

  • Microbreweries, as the name suggests, produce small batches of beer–typically 15,000 barrels or less per year, according to the Brewers Association. Microbreweries tend to sell the majority of their beer off-site.
  • Brewpub and taprooms. Brewpubs and taprooms both sell at least a quarter of the beer they produce onsite, according to the Brewers Association. Brewpubs offer food alongside their beer, while taprooms focus mainly on libations. These types of breweries often sell their products to-go as well.
  • Regional breweries. Regional breweries are large hubs that can produce millions of barrels per year, according to the Brewers Association. Regional breweries will ship their beer through multiple distribution channels.

The Brewing Process
Brewing beer is a multi-step process that takes time and precision. Here are the basic steps:

  • Milling and mashing. Grain is the base ingredient of any type of beer. Brewers begin the process of making beer by milling, or crushing, the grain. Then, grain is set in hot, but not boiling, water, according to Beeriety.
  • The product of these processes, called wort, is then boiled as the brewer adds other ingredients, such as hops.
  • As the brew cools, brewers will separate out any remaining particles to prepare the liquid for the next step in the process.
  • Brewers next add yeast and sugar to begin the fermentation process. Most beer will need a few weeks to complete this process. During that time, the temperature of the fermentation space is important. Though it may vary depending on the type of beer, 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit is typically the optimal room temperature for this step in the brewing process, according to Brew with Kits.
  • Once the beer is bottled, it will need time to age. Higher temperatures will mean faster aging, so brewers need to be cognizant of the temperature. Most beers should age in an environment at 55 to 65 degrees, according to Draft.

Given the different temperature requirements of the brewing process, breweries need discrete temperature zones. Some buildings may be effectively insulated and separated for each step, but many spaces are not. Industrial insulated curtains are a flexible, cost-effective solution for creating and maintaining separate temperature zones. The opaque curtains can also help control the light conditions, another vital factor that affects the quality of the final product.

Storage and Distribution
Once beer is aged and ready for sale, it will either be sold at the brewery or it will be shipped through various distribution channels. The ideal storage temperature for beer, whether it is being kept at the brewery or a third-party logistics warehouse, varies depending on the type of beer. For example, IPAs and lagers are best stored at 45 to 50 degrees, while sour beer is typically stored at 50 to 55 degrees, according to The Hop Review.

Breweries that create a wide variety of beers can create temperature-specific zones in their storage space; likewise, distribution warehouses can maintain ideal temperatures while beer waits for shipping to its final destination. For example, R-8 and R-9 2” Insulated Soft Walls are an effective tool for transportation facilities and warehouses with temperature sections. These insulated curtains can maintain a maximum temperature difference of 22 degrees.

If your brewery, large or small, needs help with temperature management, we have the solution. Contact us to speak with a knowledgeable Industrial Curtain Wall Specialist about the different types of insulated curtains and get a quote for your business.

Opportunities for Industrial Curtains in Material Handling

Opportunities for Industrial Curtains in Material Handling

The material handling industry is tasked with addressing some of the most complex needs of industrial businesses. Managing the storage and transportation of goods and products means material handling suppliers must have solutions that can cater to a wide range of storage requirements at warehouses and manufacturing plants. This has led to the rapid growth of industrial curtain products.

Industrial curtains offer alternatives to permanent walls, partitions or other enclosures. Advanced materials technology allow curtains to be customized for specific material handling needs.

Air-tight seals. Edge-sealing technology allows for air-tight curtain enclosures. This helps maintain temperature control and keep unwanted air particles, including dust, fumes, and odors from entering or exiting the storage area. These can be used to isolate materials that carry a high risk of foreign contamination. Conversely, they can be used for handling materials that are volatile, odorous, or which can potentially contaminate other materials. In addition to creating separate storage space, these curtains can be used to section-off specialized workspaces within a warehouse or production environment.

Anti-static materials. For facilities where electric discharge could result in an explosion or compromise of sensitive materials, anti-static and electrostatic dissipative (ESD) curtains are a critical solution. The same technology being applied in cleanrooms can also be used for handling and storage of electronic components. Beyond electronics, anti-static curtains can be used with volatile and combustible materials.

Food-grade materials. Food processing industries are subject to excruciating levels of regulation. Industrial curtains can be crafted to comply with the majority of U.S. and international food regulating agencies, including USDA, NSF, CFIA-ACIA and FDA. The handling and storage of certain food products requires environments that are temperature-controlled and bacteria-resistant, while others require substantial airflow. Industrial curtains can create safe dividers between food products within a freezer or cooler, as well as create temperature barriers between air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned storage areas.

Temperature control. Industrial curtains offer a more cost-effective solution to having multiple environmental and temperature zones within a warehouse or other storage and handling facility. Beyond the food industry, such capabilities are needed for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and many other industries. Different insulating materials and thicknesses can be utilized depending on the environmental requirements.

Sound barriers. Many kinds of industrial environments use retractable acoustic curtains to separate areas where sensitive work can be done without the noise, distraction, and vibration of production. For material handling, acoustic curtains can also be used when handling products that are vibration sensitive, such as glass, electronics, volatile chemicals, and more.

Fixed or retractable. Sometimes a material handling solution requires flexible spatial dimensions. Industrial curtain tracks allow many kinds of separated spaces to be increased or modified for variable material needs. Most curtain solutions can also be installed in a stationary position with a variety of entry options.

Work area dividers. Beyond material storage, industrial curtains can also be used to partition workspaces within material handling facilities and warehouses. These can be used for office work, painting or detailing, woodwork, chemical mixture, packaging, and more.

Learn more about industrial curtain wall options, how they can be used in material handling and storage, and request a quote to get started.

Acoustic Curtains and Industrial Applications

Acoustic Curtains and Industrial Applications

Industrial workplaces are inherently noisy. Machinery is running all day long to produce goods, and workers are using forklifts to move material. High levels of noise can lead to workplace accidents, distraction, and even hearing loss for the people working in these environments. Industrial workplaces of all kinds can manage noise levels with the help of acoustic curtains

Industrial Noise

Approximately 22 million people are exposed to dangerous levels of noise in the workplace each year, and nearly half of manufacturing workers have been exposed to dangerous noise levels. There are a number of ways to reduce exposure to high noise levels. Workers can wear ear plugs; employers can invest in quieter machinery; and workplaces can strategically place barriers between workers and the sources of high noise levels. The reduction of a few decibels can go a long way toward protecting employees in industrial settings.

Acoustic Solutions

Acoustic curtains can serve as that barrier between employees and high levels of noise.  Industrial acoustic curtains designed specifically for industrial applications are made of solid PVC coated polyester, which is durable and easy to clean.

Industrial workplaces can opt for different acoustic curtain solutions depending on their needs. Acoustic curtains with Single Barrier Technology and Double Barrier Technology can be mounted on a track system and configured to fit the needs of various industrial spaces. The curtains can create an enclosure for the noisiest equipment, or they can create an enclosed, quieter space for employees to take a break.

Acoustic curtain walls with single barrier technology have an average sound transmission coefficient (STC) of 34.5 and an average noise reduction coefficient (NRC) of 0.82. The acoustic curtain walls with double barrier technology offer an even higher decibel loss with an average STC of 47.5 and an average NRC or 0.64.

Industrial workplaces can also use acoustic baffles as a standalone solution or in conjunction with acoustic curtain walls. Baffles are designed to be mounted on walls and ceilings. Acoustic baffles absorb sound and minimize echoing within a space.

Putting Acoustic Curtains to Work

 How can acoustic curtains and baffles be used in various industrial settings?

  • Construction sites. Construction sites are full of the competing noise of tools and forklifts as material is torn down and various elements of the project are built. Acoustic curtain walls can be strategically placed around the work site to manage the sound of different tools. For example, a room that is undergoing demolition can be enclosed with an acoustic industrial curtain wall until the work is finished.Acoustic curtain walls can even have doorway panels and windows to make access to the enclosed space easy for members of the crew coming and going.
  • Warehouses. Warehouses may simply be used as industrial storage facilities, but that does not mean they are safe from noise. The warehouse goods need to be moved for storage and transport, which means heavy duty equipment and big teams of people. Acoustic curtain walls can effectively divide warehouses into different sections, reducing noise. Acoustic baffles can add another layer of sound management, particularly helpful in large warehouse spaces that are likely to have echoing sound.
  • Manufacturing facilities. The manufacture of goods is a major industrial process that involves noise all day long. Acoustic baffles can be hung from walls and ceilings to reduce echoes in large manufacturing facilities. Acoustic curtain walls can be used to create quieter spaces in the facility. For example, administrative areas and break areas could benefit from the sound barrier provided by acoustic curtain walls.

Learn more about industrial acoustic noise blocking and sound absorbing solutions and request a quote to get started on improved sound management.

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.