The market for industrial doors may be intensely competitive but the signs are that buyers are looking well beyond initial product prices to life cycle costs, according to Hormann UK’s sales director, Alan Jenkins. Given that sustainability issues are playing a role in this it follows that product quality is important because if products last longer they will help reduce the environmental impact and be more cost effective.

chazThere may not seem to be much to worry about doors but it would be a big mistake to underestimate their impact on warehouse running costs and safety or overlook the fact that door quality varies widely. Most warehouse doors these days involve moving machinery and so another problem can arise if maintenance issues are neglected, and experience shows that they often are.

The best way to ensure a successful door investment in large projects is to deal directly with the leading door providers and obtain references from them so that prospective buyers can see doors in action on busy sites and obtain feedback from users. If a door supplier is unable to give such references it would be safer to walk away from that prospective supplier.

A key consideration for door buyers is to assess the doors’ impact on energy costs, particularly important for cool and cold stores where energy costs can be as high as 20-30% of total warehouse running cost. All of the leading door suppliers like Hormann, Sara and Stertil UK will conduct a free energy site audit with figures to show how much money could be saved by the right combination of doors. Depending on the circumstances, some doors could pay for themselves in under one year through energy savings.

Doors, of course, are not just about energy savings. They also, for example, enhance hygiene by reducing pest ingress, cut draughts that could affect certain production processes, and maintain comfortable working conditions with a measure of security. The most effective pest control doors are those which are fast-acting with opening/closing speeds over 3 mt/sec. At one time these were confined to PVC roller doors but now equally fast doors are available as insulated sectional doors which double up as an external security door and so can dispense with a two-door operation.

Given that both safety and door damage are key concerns, door buyers should look for doors with safety devices that prevent collisions with pedestrians and trucks and also crash-out facilities that allow, in most circumstances, the re-instatement of doors without a site visit from a repair engineer. At one time, non contact safety devices like those from Sara and Hormann were restricted to fast-action roller doors but now they include sectional doors.

After sales service is also critical. Many door users, however, neglect maintenance packages but it is often a false economy because when a door breaks down the losses can be considerable. But a word of caution. Not all, independent service providers are adequate. To be safe, therefore, it would be wise to deal with the door manufacturers’ service departments or at least their designated service providers. Some maintenance providers, like Hormann, now offer 24/7 call outs for all makes of doors. According to Hormann there is rising demand for manufacturer-backed service and routine maintenance programmes, a trend long overdue.