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24th March 2017
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Drawers, doors and lifting systems - a study into the real usage of kitchens
FIRA Project Manager, Sue Calver, presented the findings of a study into the real usage of kitchens at kbb 2012 on Monday.
The FIRA funded study for Blum, has looked into how real-life kitchens are used and the impact this has on the design, manufacture and installation of furniture fittings. The project aimed to review data relating to the usage of drawers, doors and lifting systems within real kitchens. The study compared how kitchens within the UK are used in comparison to kitchen usage in Europe - particularly Austria.
The study has involved FIRA technicians, trained by Blum, fitting the designated kitchens with monitoring equipment, including sensors and 6-digit counters to determine:
- Loads applied to doors and drawers
- Cycles of doors, drawers and lift systems throughout a kitchen lifetime
- Changes in use over time (i.e. moves towards full extension, changing storage options etc)
FIRA technicians have returned to the households to gather results which are focused primarily on the following cabinet areas of the kitchens:
1. Cutlery - main
2. Daily used crockery
3. Daily used glassware
4. Daily used mugs/cups
5. Pots and pans
7. Consumables - tins/jars/packets
8. Utensils - spatulas/whisks/fish slicers/ can openers etc
9. Clingfilm, foil, bags etc
The study showed that the contents of kitchen drawers consisted of the following:
Therefore, drawer space is mostly used for provisions, followed closely by utilities, pots and flatware. Results showed that just 3% of drawer space is occupied by rubbish storage, however, the rubbish drawer was the most used part of the kitchen.
Frequency of use - hinges
Results from both the UK and the Austria sample showed that the cupboard or drawer used for rubbish is the most commonly used part of the kitchen. However, the number of times the rubbish receptacle is used is much higher in Austria, suggesting that people in the UK are more likely to have a standalone bin. Hinge counters in the UK measured up to 165,000 uses over 20 years, with Austria showing usage of up to 286,000 cycles over 20 years. This figure is greater than that specified in the Standard (BS6222 part 2. Domestic kitchen equipment) to which cupboard hinges are tested - which anticipates that just 90,000 cycles are likely to take place over a 20 year period. This has highlighted a need for the Standard to be amended.
Frequency of use - drawer cycles
The study showed that again, drawers containing rubbish were the most frequently used. The Standard for drawers anticipates up to 120,000 cycles over a 20 year period, however, the study showed that drawers were used more often than this. The estimated average figure for the cycles for the most used drawer in the UK was 300,000 times over a 20 year period, with an estimated maximum of 640,000 cycles. Austrian results were less than this, with an average use of 176,000 cycles, and a maximum use of 290,000 cycles over a 20 year period. This again suggests an amendment to the Standard for drawer systems is needed.
Frequency of use - lifting systems
Lifting systems are becoming increasingly used in the UK, in comparison to Europe. This is also reflected in the Standard for lifting systems, which accounts for 20,000 uses over seven years of use. Results for the FIRA / Blum study suggested that the most used cupboard which employs a lifting system could be used up to 75,000 times in 20 years, again prompting a revision of the standard for kitchen lifting systems.
Weight of drawer contents
It was found that the weight of items kept within Austrian kitchen drawers was within the 30 - 50 kg scope which the BS6222 part 2 Standard tested for at level G. However, the results showed that in the UK, kitchen users placed much heavier items in their drawers, such as crockery. Findings showed that some drawers held more than 50kg of crockery, whereas the average 'general use' drawer contained up to 35kg of items. In response to this, Blum is now offering a drawer system designed to hold up to 65kg of weight.
Overall - the results have shown that the way that kitchens are being used is evolving, with heavier items being kept in drawers and lifting systems being used more and more.
The study has led to the realisation that kitchen usage in the UK is different to usage in other parts of Europe. Therefore product developments need to take this into consideration.
Most importantly for FIRA, the study has highlighted that the current Standard for kitchen equipment (BS6222 part 2. Domestic kitchens equipment - structural strength) is in need of revision - particularly in terms of lifting systems and the weight of drawer contents. This is valuable information for when kitchen Standards are amended.
The kitchens involved in the study will continue to be monitored for a number of years to come.
The study is the outcome of a Design and Innovation competition held to celebrate 60 years since the establishment of the Furniture Industry Research Association. The competition, launched in 2009, was open to all FIRA member companies looking to become more competitive through design and innovation. The overall aim was that the results would enhance the competitiveness of the industry as a whole.
As competition winner, Blum was awarded a £20,000 prize fund, enabling it to extend a worldwide project that had been operating for 25 years, involving the monitoring of a broad selection of kitchens in Europe. With additional support from FIRA, Blum extended the study to monitor kitchen usage in 22 homes across a full geographical spread of Britain.
9th March 2012