Design shadow on Installation problems/crisis management

Today I met on site of a recent installation project where one of the chair types that was selected was having some problems; the back legs keep coming loose. Because of the  large amount of these chairs, our first plan is to find a remedy to fix the chairs instead of just replacing them. But to do that, we need to understand the situation better.

All the key players are meeting today: Owner and users, designer/purchaser, lead installation crew and chair manufacturer. We evaluated the situation and made a plan. These are the notes from the meeting.

  • We inspected a number of chairs on floors on multiple levels of the buildings.
  • There is an internal bolt and external hex screw that is required to be tightened to secure the legs to the chair back. We have conditions were the internal bolt is coming loose, the external hex is coming loose, or both are happening on the same leg.
  • Each bolt and screw has liquid thread lock (lock-tite) applied to the screw. Normally this would keep the screws from coming loose.
  • We reviewed chairs that have never been tightened and chairs that were tightened already by individuals in housekeeping 3 weeks ago. Of the chairs we reviewed, many of those that were tightened 3 weeks ago were loose again.
  • It was confirmed by our installation crew that they installed the chair legs per manufacturer guidelines, however the chair manufacturer feels that the chairs would not be coming loose if they were tightened appropriately the first time.
  • Architectural designer and Installation crew feel that it is reasonable to believe that with so many chairs to be put together there may have been some bolts/screws not completely tightened, but not to the large scale that we are seeing.
  • The consensus for those in the meeting was that those using the facility could be leaning back in the chairs (even though our all our mothers told us never to do that.) Because of the way the chair is built, when that is done with this chair style you can also “wobble” or “wiggle” on the chair as it is leaned back on 2 legs. This could add to bolts/screws loosening. There is a high amount of use.
  • The manufacturer has tested chairs in their warehouse that came from the same batch of chairs as those on site, and they aren’t finding any loosening of the bolt/screws.

What do we do now? After everyone shared their opinions, the Owner (because he is the one that holds the purchase contract and warranty on the chairs) decided that we should replace all the screws/bolts for one level of chairs. This would require a retooling/sharpening of the internal threads. Two of the same lead installers that did these chairs the first time will come back to the site on Thursday of this week and spend the day reinstalling the legs on these chairs. A manufacturer’s representative will be onsite to video the installation to ensure the manufacturer feels comfortable with how these are re-installed. The architectural designer will also be in attendance. Once this work is complete, we will take the next couple weeks to watch these chairs to see if they become loose again.

The day was filled with debate, and commitment from all parties to resolve this to the Owners satisfaction.


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