Architectural Woodwork Manufacturers Association of Canada's (AWMAC BC) British Columbia chapter president Martin Berryman was the speaker for the "Architectural Millwork" session at the Wood Design and Construction Solutions Conference held March 1 in downtown Vancouver.
Quality, Berryman said, is measured in more than just dollars. It's fundamentally the customer's perception of the value of supplier's work. It's also conformance to valid requirements, a fulfillment of expectation and in the end it's "when the customer returns and the product doesn't."
AWMAC BC has its own set of quality standards, Berryman said, involving a 12 step system for woodworkers contained within a manual. Half the manual is for informational purposes, he said, but any section with a green column across the top is binding to manufacturers.
There are three AWMAC grades: economy, custom and premium grade. Economy grade work can have grains that can run either vertically or horizontally and are allowed to be mismatched. Custom has to have a grain which matches vertically in each cabinet unit. At premium grade, all grades have to match vertically and are sequenced horizontally within each cabinet unit.
Economy grade is showing up more in short-term occupancies, and where a tenant is installing the cabinetry themselves. Custom grade, he said, gives a wide variety of options and tolerances. Fit and finish is what differentiates such work from premium grade.
Custom grade isn't restricted to cabinets, Berryman said. He pointed to a wood roof installation that was classified custom grade, based less on the material and more on workmanship.
The AWMAC manual, Berryman said, gives designers guidelines for what needs to be submitted in terms of shop drawings.
"I can tell you there's a one to one connection between projects that went off the rails and those that had really bad shop drawings," Berryman said.
Care and storage is covered by the manual, and says that temperature and humidity has to be checked at the worksite before delivery of woodwork, and then on a daily basis once the woodwork is on site.
The manual covers casegoods, which are exposed exterior surfaces. Areas like the back of a cabinet have fairly wide leeway, Berryman said, but requirements are stricter for visible components. The casegoods section also covers assembly rules and shelf spans.
AWMAC is about to write a new manual, and there are several changes to come, Berryman said. Amongst the changes are formatting improvements, a free PDF download, coverage of sustainability and non-traditional sourcing, seismic installation guidelines, and material on glass shelf spans.
The manual will also cover cabinet lighting and electronic locks, lab casework and countertops, and will have fabrication specs which meet or exceed ANSI A161.1. It will also have information on Canadian fire ratings (CAN/ULC S102) and will feature a breakout of product subsets into annexes within their sections.
The manual is a set of prescriptive standards, but it also contains alternate methods such as SEFA testing (an American furniture testing standard). The aesthetic requirements are the same, but SEFA testing could be used instead of AWMAC.
There is also an AWAMC Guarantee and Inspection Service (GIS) program, which consists of pre-tender review, shop drawing review, plant and site inspection, deficiency reporting and follow-up.