Vehicle Seating Manufacturers Offer Flexible Design Options, Enhanced Construction

Posted on January 11, 2012 by Brittni Rubin, Assistant Editor

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American Seating has collaborated with major fabric suppliers in the industry, to offer a wider ranging fabric assortment, as well as an expanded color palette for its InSight product.
American Seating has collaborated with major fabric suppliers in the industry, to offer a wider ranging fabric assortment, as well as an expanded color palette for its InSight product.
Improved flexibility, reduced seat weight and enhanced fabric options are just a handful of the myriad upgrades customers can expect from transit seating manufacturers this season. With new seating regulations for safety and ergonomics, companies are also finding ways to meet the criteria without forgoing style or function. 

Celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, Grand Rapids, Mich.-based American Seating has made new improvements to its top-selling seating models, InSight and Metropolitan, available to customers in early 2012.

For the InSight, American Seating is introducing an expanded color palette in addition to a new, wider-ranging fabric assortment, as the company has recently collaborated with major fabric suppliers in the industry.

"We've gotten outstanding feedback from our customers about the comfort, contours and size of the InSight, so we wanted to continue to build on that from a color and visual standpoint," says Gary Thompson, marketing manager for American Seating.

Also available will be an upholstered back panel for the InSight, which features fabric on both the front and back panels of the seat. There is also a high back extension seat cushion option as well.

"The high-back seat with fabric on the front and back makes the InSight look more luxurious and inviting," says Thompson. "It really impacts the customers in two ways. One, it provides increased comfort, and two, it provides truly enhanced styling."

Customers will be able to view these new features on American Seating's Web-based vehicle configuration tool starting in early 2012. With the tool, customers receive a 360-degree view of the seat, giving them the opportunity to visualize an upholstered back panel as well.

As of now, the Web tool is focused on the InSight offering, but American Seating is looking to expand the tool to include other seats in the future, according to Thompson.

American Seating's Metropolitan seat has recently been redesigned to comply with the company's goal to decrease weight in its seats. The upgraded Metropolitan, a fiberglass design, achieved up to a 20% weight reduction, depending on the model type and added features.

"We've really looked at the components that make up the Metropolitan — the frame, shell, seat cushion inserts and modularity — and optimized every single one of those components to reduce overall weight," says Thompson.  
American Seating has also ­developed lightweight solutions for their other products, including stainless steel models, according to ­Thompson.

Gemini, an ultra-lightweight seat based off of 4 One's earlier Aries model, is made from stainless steel and is injection molded.
Gemini, an ultra-lightweight seat based off of 4 One's earlier Aries model, is made from stainless steel and is injection molded.
Exton, Pa.-based 4One, a joint venture of USSC and Freedman Seating Co., recently introduced their newest product, the Gemini, at the APTA EXPO in New Orleans.

Gemini is an ultra-lightweight seat based off of 4One's earlier Aries model, but featuring notable improvements.

"We wanted to duplicate the comfort of the Aries in a different seat model - one that is less weight and less costly, but still gives you the same comfort as the Aries," says Rick Klotz, president of 4One.

Like the Aries, the Gemini is made from stainless steel due to the strong industry push toward it for the sanitation benefits it delivers.
"With stainless steel seats, it's easier to keep a bus clean," says Klotz. "You can wipe a stainless steel seat down more easily, and therefore, thwart vandalism."

The Gemini is also injection molded and has many design options. Customers can order the Gemini with stainless steel back panels, and its grab handles come in various colors. The handles can also feature an anti-microbial solution, and the seat is available with or without upholstery.

The Gemini can meet Docket 90a for flame and smoke requirements, which is commonly mandated in the rail industry and a recommended standard for buses.

"We choose to have Docket 90 as an option, because while there are some customers that don't require it, there are customers that do, and we want to make sure we meet all customers' needs," says Klotz.

With the Gemini, 4ONE aims to meet all of the latest seating requirements regarding weight, ease of maintenance and adjustability as well.

"Our goal is to have more aesthetically finished seats, focusing on weight, styling and simplicity," says Klotz. "Our focus is to give customers the best looking seat and best value for the money."

One of Gemini's most exceptional features is its light weight. According to Klotz, the Gemini could save a bus more than 400 pounds in overall weight, which leads to gains in the fuel economy, making the bus more efficient.

The Gemini can also be placed in an extensive amount of seating positions, such as forward-facing, longitudinal facing, forward-flip and longitudinal flips.

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