Hillsborough County Public Schools wanted to use their classroom space all day, every day instead of having dedicated space for both computer and testing labs.

The Florida school district was seeking an institutional furniture manufacturer to supply computer furnishings for multiple schools within the district for their High Stakes Testing Labs and study rooms. Spectrum Industries, Inc. designs work stations and their previous models included both electrically operated and manually operated versions.

But the Florida school officials were not satisfied with the off-the-shelf desks on the market. “We worked closely with them to identify the critical functionality, features, aesthetics, and price point,” says Scott Dorn, Spectrum’s executive vice president, sales and marketing. “Our design and development teams worked closely with our account managers and after collaborating with HCPS on several prototypes we finalized the design and were ultimately awarded the contract for the project. It required us to listen to their needs and problems and work on providing them a solution.”

Some of the funding for the desks came from federal economic stimulus funds earmarked for education in Florida.

Spectrum Industries Inc. is an FDM 300 company based in Chippewa Falls, Wis., and has 200 employees and a 300,000 square foot plant, where it makes computer furniture, computer desks, office systems and store fixture displays. A Giben saw, Masterwood point-to-point, Nisshinbo metal cutting machine and metal laser are used, along with a powder coating line. A Packsize packaging machine makes custom packing materials.

College and university markets

Spectrum’s Flex Insight Desk has been well received by college/university and K-12 markets as well as the government and corporate training markets, according to Dorn.

The Flex Insight Desk, the product platform used in the Hillsborough County Public Schools project, allows for the quick reconfiguration of a lecture room to a computer lab. With keyboard and mouse storage and with computer cords hidden from sight, it can also serve as a standalone computer desk.

Even with the monitor up, students can maintain clear eye contact with the instructor. With the monitor down in a lecture environment, 19 inches of writing surface is provided.

The desks themselves feature a top work surface constructed from 1-1/16-inch thick industrial-grade composite board with .030 high-pressure laminate, and a balancing phenolic backer on the bottom side. The left, right, and rear edges are finished with 3mm vinyl edgeband. The monitor compartment lid work surface is constructed from ¾ inch thick industrial-grade composite board with .030 high-pressure laminate on both sides. All edges are finished with 3mm vinyl edgeband. The base is constructed from heavy-duty metal components with the legs featuring welded, 1 x 2 inch rectangular steel tube. The steel is finished with scratch-resistant powder coat epoxy paint.

The custom workstation project for Hillsborough County Public Schools was a three-phase project that began in mid-2010. The proprietary Flex Insight Desk has been in production for more than six months and has been adopted by dozens of customers in the United States.

Reconfigurable designs

To accommodate many different learning styles, each requiring a reconfigurable classroom, the following features were necessary in the development of the flat panel monitor computer desk: recessing monitor with security lock;
keyboard and mouse storage; VESA mount with the ability to pivot; excellent wire management & integral ventilation; ability to daisy chain desks together; 24 to 30-inch adjustable height legs with casters; and CPU storage.

“Spectrum is coming off an exciting year in 2010 and we are carrying forward a lot of momentum, excitement and additional projects,” Dorn said. “Some are large technology-related projects in the K-12 market, new construction projects in the college/university market, and renovations in the federal government market.

“Our company focus has been to continue to improve in our core areas including improving our distribution network, selling productivity, manufacturing efficiency and rapid/innovative product development. This focus has opened up new opportunities internally and in the marketplace. As a small organization it is critical for us to be an innovator. Our markets are so dynamic that unless we are out front and actively participating in the change we could be left behind and that is not an option.”

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