Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Trust the Innovators...Not the Imitators!

Preface: This information is presented especially for those considering the specification of banner brackets for exterior light and utility poles. This information is recommended for anyone considering the purchase of competing products to the KBW Kalamazoo Banner Works product line. Please Note: The installation of banners on exterior light and utility poles is serious business. The attachment of any devices above the heads of the public and above vehicles demands precision products tested and accurately manufactured and installed correctly. KBW Kalamazoo Banner Works by Consort has been innovating, testing and manufacturing these specific products since 1983.

How and why has KBW by Consort been the uncontested leader in exterior light pole banner bracket innovation?

Kalamazoo Banner Works was the first banner company in the world to actually design light pole brackets specifically with performance in mind. Prior to this, brackets consisted of steel pipe arms welded to steel collars that were then bolted to light and utility poles. The failings of this primitive method were that the steel would bend and stay bent in the wind. And, the steel collars were rarely tight enough on the varying-sized poles and subsequently easily loosened in wind storms. This resulted in shoddy installations that also allowed the banners to flop around and rip and tear relentlessly in wind gusts. Besides that, the steel rusted quickly and added one more eyesore to the installation.

The Introduction of Fiberglass Banner Arms

KBW’s first innovation was the use of fiberglass arms in 1983, the same year that KBW began business. Now, when you see a banner bracket on a light pole and you notice that it has a round, white fiberglass rod holding the banner that is because KBW was the first in the world to come up with the concept to use fiberglass. Next, we dismissed steel collar in favor of a system of stainless steel banding that took the exact shape of each light pole’s exact cross-section.

The Introduction of the Universal Pole Casting Mounted with Stainless Steel Banding
 When you see stainless steel banding holding that bracket to the pole, think of KBW as the first to provide that versatile method. This started with heavy duty Band-It® brand, tool-applied banding and now includes custom-made heavy duty screw gear banding for certain installations.

The Introduction of the “Canted” Fiberglass Banner Arm

When you are told that a bracket arm is “canted” say, 2 degrees or 4 degrees, to stretch the banner and keep it trim and taut, think of KBW as the originator of this concept in 1984. This cant avoids banner flapping and allows the wind force to immediately be transferred to the fiberglass which then deflects some of the force, depending on the KBW bracket model and the size of the banner.

The Introduction of the First Adjustable Banner Bracket

KBW first developed and patented the BannerFlex® D3 “adjustable” bracket in 1988 to allow ease of installation and banner changes and to allow the taut installation of varying size banners. This was a major innovation for the industry and this technology continues to dominate the market.

The First Full-Size Wind Tunnel Tests on Street Pole Banners and Hardware

To insure adequate strength and durability, KBW contracted to undergo the first full-size wind tunnel tests in 1984 at the GM Aeronautical Laboratory in Detroit. Subsequently, KBW has performed 4 other tunnel tests. Three smaller tests were performed at the University of Michigan tunnels in 2001 and the fourth was a comprehensive full-size test at the Jacob-Sverdrup facility in Allen Park, Michigan in 2002.

The Acknowledgement that Winds Slits in Banners are Actually Detrimental

In both full-sized tests, in 1984 and 2004, testers observed and documented that the typical wind slits and holes that some folks put into vertical street banners are not necessary or even advisable with fiberglass arm brackets. Three reasons: First, the holes set up vibrations, when the wind goes through the holes, similar to organ pipes and the vibrations can affect the life of the lighting fixture and may well be detrimental to the pole and its base over the long term. Second, wrinkles are created in the banners between the holes that actually capture more wind thereby putting greater force on the brackets and light pole. And third, the small size of wind holes typically put into banners is usually only 3 to 5%of the banner surface area. As you can see, all in all, wind holes are not useful.

The First Banner Bracket Designed Specifically to fit Ornamental and Fluted Poles

In 2005, KBW Consort introduced the Metro® bracket which was the first, and currently only, to be designed specifically to comfortably fit the majority of ornamental fluted and antique light poles. This streamlined, smaller bracket also incorporates the adjustability of the larger KBW brackets but uniquely features “inboard banding ports” for a compact, sleek look popular with architects and landscape architects.

The Most Important Advancement in Banner Bracket Technology: The BannerFlex Airow® Bracket

For the crowning achievement in bracket advances, in 2004 KBW introduced the BannerFlex Airow® bracket. This unique, patent-applied-for bracket is eccentrically-shaped pultruded fiberglass with a UV coating. The shape allows more than twice the flexibility of the standard full-round arm by providing the necessary structural support nearest the pole and less and less support nearer the outside edge of the banner, thus significantly dissipating the ultimate force on the banner, the utility pole and less vibration onto the luminaire. And, KBW continues to research this technology. Look for further advancements with the Airow soon.

The Introduction of the Only “Wind Force Calculator” Offered by a Banner Bracket Company

To compare the advantages of the Airow over standard round arms, our aeronautical engineers
consultants have placed applicable testing data into an easy to use program for our customers’ use. Try out our Wind Force Calculator on the BannerFlex website. If you require different but similar data that is not available in this program please contact your KBW/Consort Sales Representative.

The First and Only Banner Bracket Banding Guideline Providing Fastening Advice

We have compiled a “BannerFlex Banding Guideline” on the web to assist in selecting the proper size and method of stainless steel banding and bolting advice for your particular specifications. This guide gives you proven experience on what will work for exterior installations based on the size and number of banners to be installed on a pole. The options include ½”, 9/16” and 5/8” screw gear banding as well as the proven best choice of ¾” toll-applied Band-It® type banding. You should know that KBW is the only company to have 5/8” “captured screw gear banding” custom manufactured f to our specifications by Ideal® Banding.

The First Ten Year Banner Bracket Warranty

By being innovators in the business for over 27 years, we currently have banner bracket installations that we know are actually that old and which are fully functioning installations. Many of these have needed little or no maintenance beyond needing a new banner once in a while. In Kalamazoo, Michigan we are very sure that we have the world’s oldest street banner installation that has never had any attention. It utilizes our first fiberglass arm technology. That example is just one reason why we are comfortable with our ten year warranty. We have supplied well over a million exterior banner brackets around the world because the fiberglass, aluminum and glues that we use are proven time and again. Do not trust any other company who claims warranties like ours who have not actually manufactured for as long as they warrant. Why would you do that?

Other Banner Bracket Accessories Available Only From KBW/Consort

1. “Square Pole Adapters” – to place on the back of the D3 and Metro Main Castings to fit odd-shaped fluted poles or allow more banding tension on flat-faced square poles installations. There are manufactured to exactly fit our hardware cross-sections.
2., “Flower Pot Holders” – these special arms fit within the BannerFlex D3 and Metro Main Castings to allow flower pots to hang.
3., “Custom Finials” – these special fittings are available in any custom or stock shape and fit the end of any arm except the Airow.
4., "Wall Mount Plates" - for mounting our banner hardware onto exterior walls with both stock and custom shapes.
5., "BannerFlex Installation Video" - and, many other pdf. files, including our Ten Year BannerFlex Warranty available on our website.

Visit the KBW website or contact us for more information on the above.

Last but Not Least, KBW Originated the 30” x 94” (7’-10”) Banner Length for a Purpose

This longtime first is the 30” by 94” size that you often see specified. This 7’-10” length was first adopted by KBW in 1983 to ensure that exterior light pole banners could also be hung inside a room with an 8 foot ceiling. Yes, that’s it. We decided on that particular size for the largest of our stock designs based on practical use. This fact should speak volumes on the details that we consider when designing our products.

I hope that all of the above illustrates our dedication to KBW/Consort being your best possible choice for exterior banner brackets. Details, details, details – quality, innovation, experience and details. That’s our story.

Roger Lepley


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