Benefits of Counterbalance Technology for Hospitality Interiors

March 8, 2019 Rachel Pilgren-Kane

Lou Mintzer, Business Development Manager, Counterbalance, Southco, Inc.

The effective and ergonomic use of space is the secret to a successful interior. Despite this, many hotels and restaurants still feature furnishings and fittings that are heavy and difficult to move, such as doors, furniture and counter-tops, reducing flexibility as well as comfort and safety. For example, a granite flip-up counter-top in a hotel lobby looks impressive, but it is strenuous for employees to move up and down for access day after day. Where space is at a premium within hotel rooms, additional capacity can be created with counterbalance technology. Applied on to the largest application in a standard room, the bed, counterbalance weightless technology creates further space by allowing guests to move and store the bed when not being used. Hotels and restaurants are now applying counterbalance technology to resolve these kinds of challenges.

What is Counterbalance Technology?

Counterbalance technology neutralizes the weight of a heavy element, such as a door, by allowing it to be opened fully and moved into the closed position with minimum effort. By doing this, the technology allows heavy fixtures to be moved more easily and with less effort. Counterbalance systems incorporate heavy-duty torsion springs that store energy when the door or fixture is closed; when the door is opened, the energy is released and the effort to move the door to a fully open position is minimized.

The Chicago Marriott Suites O’Hare in Illinois recently installed Southco’s LIFT-A-SYST® counterbalance system. Shandra Slaughter, the hotel’s Restaurant Supervisor, explains:

“Our bar has two openings - one of which is a marble slab. The marble was extremely heavy for our bartenders and servers to lift. The LIFT-A-SYST® staff came to our location and adjusted the system so that every one of my associates could lift the marble slab with just one finger. Now the bartenders are able to move in and out of the bar with ease, and servers can do the same. Without LIFT-A-SYST®, we would have had to remove the marble slab. I am so glad that we didn’t. The system has made a true difference in the way that our bar and lounge operates.”

By making interior spaces more versatile and taking away the effort involved with moving heavy elements, counterbalance technology is helping to resolve challenges around customer experience, employee safety and flexibility in the hospitality sector.

Southco LIFT-A-SYST® Counterbalance System

Flexing Space

Making limited space more versatile is a constant pressure for many hotels and restaurants. The compact design of counterbalance systems means that they can be fitted into existing products. Because the systems are modular and not gravity-dependent, they can also be configured to fit into existing design parameters. For example, the counterbalance assembly can be split to accommodate a left handed or right handed installation and can be cut then stacked or inverted to fit or mounted on the outside of the unit. This unique flexibility works well with new applications or can be retrofitted into existing interior spaces. Because counterbalance systems are purely mechanical and have been proven to operate flawlessly for more than a million cycles, they are also simple to use, reliable and maintenance-free.

Changing Client Experiences

In hospitality, less effort means more luxury. Hotels and restaurants can offer a more high-end experience for guests by using counterbalance technology to take the movement of doors, desks and other aspects of their interiors from heavyweight to weightless. Counterbalance technology can also be designed to match the specifications of each setting, providing a more tailored experience.

 The LIFT-A-SYST® series was born out of the need to offset the weight of heavy pass-through countertops and doors, mainly in hospitality environments, assisting the opening and closing of the lift gate by neutralizing the full weight of the application. We’re seeing some really exciting uses of our LIFT-A-SYST® series counterbalance technology in hospitality and property settings. Because the product fits the functional needs and aesthetics that designers gravitate towards in today’s modern designs, you might see it in an upscale bar or even in residential applications where there isn’t space for traditional furniture.

Lifting the Burden of Health and Safety

Hotel and restaurant employees are also enjoying the benefits of the more efficient use of space and zero effort lifting and movement provided by counterbalance technology. For settings where employees are routinely opening and closing heavy doors – restaurant appliances such as convection ovens are one example – counterbalance technology can help reduce fatigue and improve efficiency. Counterbalance systems designed with constant torque allow the user to move a door or panel into any position, knowing that it will stay in place as long as required. This means that heavy doors – such as an 80-pound kitchen exhaust cover – can be opened with ease by anyone, and won’t accidentally close on the person operating it, if it isn’t pushed all the way into its full open position. In many hospitality settings, appliances are in heavy, constant use. Unlike an oven or microwave for domestic use, it’s not uncommon for some convection oven doors or panini press covers to experience more than a million open-close cycles within the first two to three years of use alone, exposing users to a range of potential health issues. By making these elements effectively weightless in use, counterbalance technology can transform the experience of their employees and reduce potential health and safety risks.

With space management and customer experience at a premium in hospitality, counterbalance technology has the potential to provide new and affordable answers to some of the sector’s most long-standing interior design challenges.

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