The warm days and light evenings are the perfect time to enjoy some quality time with friends and family outdoors.
From BBQ food, utensils and garden furniture, we have everything you need for the perfect get-together. Every year our product developers look for the most stylish ranges for our customers – making sure they get the best quality and value products.
One of our most popular products for the summer time is the Miami Patio Table Set. It comes in a variety of shapes and sizes meaning there's something for everyone and every garden.
You may have seen media headlines in the past about outdoor glass furniture shattering. The headlines can be pretty shocking, but you can rest assured that we take great care in making sure our products are designed and tested to very high standards and are fit for real life.
Asda's Product Developer Ben Pearce tells us a little bit about how our products are rigorously tested.
We first introduced the Miami range in 2012. We wanted to offer customers outdoor furniture in a range of sizes and we had three main areas of focus when we were looking for new products – more usable space; improved durability; and greater value.
The table in the Miami sets is made from a steel frame with a toughened glass top. Knowing what real life can be like - we use toughened glass to reduce the risk of injury if the glass were to break. It may sound odd, but unlike normal glass that breaks into uneven – often sharp – pieces toughened glass is designed to shatter into lots of tiny pieces if damaged. Toughened glass is also much stronger than normal glass and is more resistant to heat, which is why you’ll also find this glass in products like building and car windows, shower screens and glass cookware.
There have been a few occasions where this toughened glass has shattered, but it's only occurred in a very small number of the roughly 45,000 tables we've sold and is actually the glass doing the job it is designed to do.
In the Miami set the toughened glass is clipped into the frame using plastic brackets ensuring that the glass and steel are not directly connected. This design allows for the materials to move or expand in different temperatures without it being damaged. If you think about the extremes of the Great British weather, it’s important the table is able to heat up and cool down!
Toughened glass is manufactured by a process called tempering. This is when normal glass is placed into a furnace which heats the glass to near melting temperatures, around 620 °C! It’s then rapidly cooled in a process called quenching. This heating and quenching process causes a change in the structure making the glass stronger and safer. It’s these changes that also make the glass more heat resistant and make sure that if it does break, it doesn’t form sharp dangerous pieces.
As well as using toughened glass, we test our products to several laboratory standards with the help of FIRA (Furniture Industry Research Association) and other specialists who provide further expertise in quality and performance testing. We also run user trials for ‘real life’ testing before products go on sale.
Our Miami set goes through a host of different life-like tests, such as simulations of leaning or pushing against the table edges, as well as heavy weights being repeatedly loaded on top. Our chairs go through similar tests that mimic the action of someone sitting down on the seat up to 25,000 times. The glass itself it tested to ensure it is of the correct specification and properly toughened. In addition to the lab tests our manufacturers inspect and test incoming materials to check they meet the right specifications.
In a further step to ensure quality we conduct pre-shipment inspections for every order before they leave the manufacturers. These inspections are done by third parties employed by the test labs to ensure impartiality. We do all of this to ensure the products are fit for purpose, meet our own high expectations and wherever possible exceed those of our customers.
That said – all of these tests can’t entirely eliminate the potential for the glass to be damaged in some way during use. Whilst the chances of it happening are very small, the most common reason for glass to shatter unexpectedly is damage such as nicks, chips or scratches, especially on the edges – all of which can happen over time. Whilst these are hard to see day to day, they can weaken the glass over time and eventually cause it to shatter – seemingly out of the blue. There are some other very uncommon, but unavoidable reasons for breaking such as tiny particles that get trapped in glass, their technical name is nickel-sulfide (NiS) inclusions. In toughened glass they can sometimes expand slowly and reach a point where they cause the glass to break. But it’s important to remember that these incidents are very rare and that our furniture meets all the safety requirements.
So there we have it – a brief overview of our design and testing methods to give you a better understanding of how we carefully select and develop products for our customers.
If you have any queries please do give us a call on 0800 952 0101 and a member of the customer service team will be able to help.