Every business has its terminology, jargon and slang. Sometimes, there are differences in terms’ definitions that are obvious to the “insiders” of the business, but the “outsiders” (most likely customers) either don’t recognize the difference, or “fill in the blanks” so the terminology makes sense to them. Two terms in the commercial furniture industry that are often misunderstood by both the insiders and customers are chairs designed for “heavy duty” and ‘24/7” uses.
Intuitively, you would think that a chair designed as “heavy duty” would be appropriate for use around the clock, and vice versa. Nothing could be farther from reality. “Big and tall”, or “heavy duty”chairs are essentially designed for bariatric applications. Most task chairs today are typically rated for 8 Hr./day use with a maximum weight rating of 250 pounds. Almost every domestic manufacturer, now has a Big and Tall chair that resembles a standard task chair but is rated to accommodate 350 pounds, 500 pounds and even 700 pound individuals for a typical 8 Hr. shift. The weight limit is determined by the manufacturer, and will vary by model. The buyer will need to determine the weight rating that they need and ensure that the chair they are considering is appropriate for their need. These are usually wider, with extremely strong seat pans, mechanical components, bases etc. Virtually, every component from the casters to the upholstery are designed to support 2 to 5 times the weight load of a standard office chair. They are intended for a very narrow segment of our working population.
Chairs designed for “24/7” have a completely different purpose. These are typically designed for a multi-shift operation like 911 centers, power plant operation centers and nursing stations. It’s assumed that a “normal” weight load will be placed in the chair for up to 24 hours in a day. This chair is designed for constant use, not heavy use. The 24/7 chair is designed to withstand repetitive motions over an extended period of time. Additionally, it typically allows a significant amount of adjustments to accommodate a wide range of body types, within the “normal” range of body weights. Adjustments must be able to safely and comfortably support a thinly built woman on the first shift as well as a large man on the third shift.
There are heavy duty, 24/7 chairs that combine the two features allowing for increased weight capacity and constant use. Generally, these should only be used by larger people only on each shift that it is used. Smaller individuals may not fit comfortably in these hybrid chairs due to the fact that it can’t be adjusted properly to accommodate a smaller person.
Good communication between the buyer and the seller is essential to get the proper chair for the application. Don’t rely on broad descriptions like, “I need a heavy duty chair for our Ops Center.” Ask “Why?”. The first questions should be directed toward the need for “heavy duty”. Is it for weight, or duration? Once this line of communication is open, it will allow both buyer and seller to home in on the optimal product to meet the customer’s need. Like most purchasing decisions, time spent up-front to search for the right product will eventually result in a more cost effective purchase. Special application seating is generally much more expensive than a “normal” task chair.
Determining the customer’s exact application will allow you to buy only the features needed. Additionally, the warranty will be protected. Due to the nature of these products, most manufacturers’ warranties have very strict limits for claims. Buying the right product will protect any future warranty claims by keeping your actual use within the limits of the product’s intended use. There are many wonderful products on the commercial seating market designed to respond to consumer’s particular needs. These needa can only be met by clear ommunication and understanding by both seller and buyer.