Trussbilt Inc. is a leader in an industry where product strength and dependability are of paramount importance. Gene Newman tells the story about a very secure company.
More than 2,000 prisons worldwide have installed more than 250,000 Trussbilt hollow metal doors since the company was founded in 1926. As a leader and pioneer in the detention products industry with its superstrong Trusscore door, Trussbilt has developed performance tests that demonstrate the superiority of hollow metal fabrication for security. Its procedures for racking load, static load, impact and edge crush load tests have become industry standards.
Trussbilt, a United Dominion company since 1997, with headquarters in New Brighton, Minn., has two plants in Huron, S.D., with a total of 106,000 square feet of manufacturing space. The company employs about 200 and has annual sales of more than $20 million, and is the largest manufacturer of detention hollow metal products.
Both Huron plants have been certified for the stringent quality requirements of ISO 9001 and are among the largest and most modern in the industry with engineering, estimating and job tracking fully computerized. Aside from its cutting-edge technology, the company prides itself on its tradition of cooperative partnership with design professionals in the detention industry. “The best technology isn’t necessarily on a computer chip,” says Trussbilt’s president, Steve Wolgamot. “It’s defined in our experience and our dedication to excellence, a dedication that has served our customers well.”
Architects, consultants and others in the detention construction industry have voiced their approval of Trussbilt’s products and its cooperative partnership approach. Michael Sweet of Southern Steel Inc. in San Antonio, Texas, has cited Trussbilt as “one of the premier vendors of security hollow metal products.” His company, he says, is a very selective contractor: “We only use the top performers in the security hollow metal market and Trussbilt has been one of the very best performers we’ve ever worked with.”
“Over the past 22 years the major reason for our success with Trussbilt has been the quality of product and the ease of installation,” says Gary Gayhart of Norment Security Group, a detention equipment contractor in Milwaukee, Wis. “With Trussbilt, we found the highest quality level and a timeliness and responsiveness unsurpassed in the industry and we found a personal relationship that we value most of all.”
Steve Douglas, president of Justice Facilities Consultants in Dallas, Texas, says courts, jails and prisons must ensure that issues like contraband, attack and durability are properly addressed in the construction design stage. “I feel it is one of the main reasons for Trussbilt’s success as one of the leading manufacturers in providing detention hollow metals,” he states.
With an eye toward advancing the use of hollow metal products in U.S. prison construction, Trussbilt developed a testing program to demonstrate that the design produced a better security door and frame. The testing programs have now been extensively adopted by the specifying community and are governed by ASTM standards. In designing the tests, Trussbilt considered all possible major points of inmate attacks such as hinge areas, lock areas and glass stops. In addition, nearly every form of attack was anticipated, including prying and pounding.
The standard racking load test simulates a prying or twisting attack on a panel, which is securely clamped at one end while only one corner of the opposite end is supported. A load is applied to the unsupported corner by means of a calibrated hydraulic ram, and deflections are monitored using a dial indicator with a resolution of one-thousandth of an inch. The maximum allowable deflection is 3.5 inches for a 12-gauge door with a 7,500-pound racking load.
The maximum amount of static load is measured on a door panel lying horizontally, with beams supporting both ends. Two beams are placed across the panel at quarter points of its length and a third beam is placed perpendicular to and across those two beams. A load is applied to the top beam using a calibrated hydraulic ram and door deflection is measured at its center point. For a 12-gauge door, the maximum allowable deflection with a 14,000-pound load is 0.58 inches.
In describing the impact test, Trussbilt spokesman Jim Fellows says, “You have to think of a worst-case scenario.” The simulated attack involves a frame-mounted door being subjected to 200-foot-pound blows delivered from a pendulum mechanism using an 80-pound weight. Blows are delivered at a location within 6 inches of the door’s lock and 6 inches of its hinge. Upon completion of the test, the door and its locking device must be fully functional.
The edge crush load test simulates an inmate inserting an object between the door and the frame. This action could move a door toward the lock jamb and thereby prevent the door from closing. The test panel is mounted in a restraining fixture to permit a load to be applied to its center edge. The load is applied through a cylindrical steel bar driven by a ram head while a dial indicator monitors door deflection. The bar is oriented with its longitudinal axis perpendicular to the door face.
The Heart and Soul
Trussbilt considers its exclusive Trusscore door design more than just a product. It is rather the heart and soul of the company and the foundation of its name and enviable reputation. The design generates an integral strength that is analogous to that of an I-beam. The relatively thick outer skin of a Trusscore door performs the same function as an I-beam’s flanges. Its inner reinforcing structure is like an I-beam’s inner web, holding the primary strength members (the inner and outer skin) in proper position and orientation. The result is a door so rigid and durable that a truck can be driven over it without causing damage. The door’s distinguishing feature is its internal reinforcement with a continuous core. This monocoque design efficiently captures the enormous strength of the door skins and is unmatched in the industry.
In a unique welding process, Trusscore doors are welded every 3 inches, vertically and horizontally, linking the door surfaces in a single welded structure. A typical Trusscore door has more than 800 welding points, 50 percent more than competitors’ doors.
The Truss-Dek Advantage
Truss-Dek wall and ceiling panel systems are designed for maximum-security requirements in various prison areas such as cells, day rooms and security corridors. With shiplap joints for ultimate security, the interlocking panels are not only easily installed and aesthetically pleasing, but are the strongest product on the market and designed to prevent contraband concealment. The standard Truss-Dek panel will support 60 pounds per square foot.
The all-steel panels come in standard 10-foot or custom lengths and allow for placement of lights and other accessories wherever needed without the need to frame around penetrations. Optional acoustical Truss-Dek panels are available for day-room noise reduction.
An Acoustical Solution
The BarrierDek security system provides an effective physical security barrier combined with excellent acoustics, and can absorb up to 100 percent of ambient noise with no reverberations. Fellows says the 16-gauge galvanealed BarrierDek panels are recommended not only for medium security areas in prisons such as lobbies and day-room ceilings, but in commercial applications like museums, pharmacies and in gymnasiums where high noise levels are a problem. “Prisons are our bread and butter,” Fellows says, “but we do see a potential for our ceilings in the commercial market.”