Volume 42, Issue 7 - July 2007

From the Fabricator
Fighting the System
Hurricane Impact Products are Winning Big 
by Max Perilstein 

Quick quiz: Name the greatest innovation (outside of low-E glass) in our industry.Tick, tick, tick … time’s up.If you guessed mirror, thanks for playing and let me know when you leave 1975. If you guessed straight tempered glass or insulating glass, those are noble, but not beefy enough. The hands-down winner of the biggest and best innovation in our industry, outside of low-E (which is the undisputed champ), is the hurricane impact system.

Now I know people reading this in Nebraska and Iowa are about to turn the page to see what else is in the issue, but seriously, to me this advancement is huge on many levels. Hurricane impact systems changed the way people live and work and, you know what? It’s just scratching the surface. There are still people designing buildings and homes without this amazing benefit, forcing the tenants to drag out horrible, heavy shutters every time the gang at the Weather Channel sees a multi-colored blurb floating around in the Atlantic. Now, while I am biased as I deal with these systems everyday, I think even an unbiased observer would find the same results.

Hurricane Systems 101
Think about it, before these systems, when hurricanes were approaching people had to deal with heavy, difficult-to-attach shuttering applications. Then, until after the threat had passed, those same people sat in darkness inside their dwellings. And, with some threats lasting several days—even weeks—it surely is not the way of life anyone wants. And, if that hurricane hit, shutters, if not applied correctly, could actually tear off and become a part of the problem. Our industry and its innovation changed all of that.

For those of you wondering what a hurricane impact system is, it’s basically laminated glass with a heavier-than-average interlayer (.090 or a specialty thicker hurricane-specific material) and fortified aluminum framing. The glass and the aluminum are glazed together to form a “system” and that detail helps provide the incredible safety that these systems offer. And yes, I know that was a very basic explanation, and I know that there are other options than aluminum (though aluminum is the best in my opinion) but again, the above is a very vanilla description. Then, when all is said and done, the system gets a true certification from a real governmental agency that doesn’t feature profiteering members. 

Performance Proof
With these systems, which came into play in full force after the devastating Hurricane Andrew of 1992 (though there was a push for it years before), life for people in hurricane-affected zones changed forever. While some people assume that hurricane material is just a “Florida” thing, it truly is everywhere. Firms from such hurricane “hotbeds” as Toronto and Las Vegas are producing and shipping material to hurricane-affected areas. Once again, no other product line has that reach. And the product has functioned to peak performance—just look at the details after each hurricane. 

Consider Hurricane Wilma. That hurricane hit South Florida pretty hard and destroyed a ton of the infrastructure including that for water, electricity and phones. The buildings that had the impact systems, however, looked as though nothing happened. Believe me, there are buildings in South Florida with hurricane impact systems that looked brand-new next to buildings that used shutters or nothing at all and truly looked as though a serious hurricane rolled through.

Name Game
On the fun side, hurricane systems also have cool names, such as Storm Max, Defender, Resistor, Pro Tek and Storm Front. You see, the products have to have cool names to take on the various hurricanes and their names. All that said, and as I mentioned earlier, buildings and homes in the affected areas are still being built without hurricane material. In some areas people fight the movement to put this material in place because of cost. But that angle is amazingly short-sided and dependent on Mother Nature being good. And you know what? I like Mother Nature’s odds a lot better than shutters. So at the end of the day, you can have your self-cleaning glass, your new silkscreen or spandrel application—they all have merit. But, it’s the hurricane impact system that truly takes the cake.  

the author: Max Perilstein serves as the vice president of marketing for Arch Aluminum and Glass. Mr. Perilstein’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine. His column appears bi-monthly. 

© Copyright 2007 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.