Industrial powered doors are not cheap but some are significantly cheaper than others, and as with forklifts you get what you pay for. While the temptation to buy on price alone may be strong this is a trap waiting for the unwary because such are the running costs of doors, which must include reliability issues, in a frenetic environment where unscheduled door downtime is painfully costly. Problems with cheap doors can also include not only more breakdowns but difficulties in obtaining spares for repairs because the imported door distributor has inadequate stocks of spares and a poor, or nonexistent, maintenance service. To guard against this, especially when considering new, multi-door contracts, buyers should assure themselves both on door quality and after-sales service by speaking to current door users, details of whom will be supplied by the more reputable door manufacturers. Another safeguard would be to buy only from members of ALEM.

Another insurance against door disappointment is to ensure that you have a robust maintenance scheme and the best of these are usually obtained from the leading door makers who will be happy to tailor their scheme to the clients’ wishes, including 24/7 call-outs, which could even include training for warehouse staff to deal with minor door issues promptly, without having to call out service engineers. The need for a reliable after-sales maintenance scheme cannot be over emphasised but as with choosing the door it is also important to choose the right aftersales service supplier. Not all independent service providers are adequate. It would be safer to deal with the door manufacturer’s service department or at least their designated service providers, preferably those with experience of repairing more than one make of door.

In order to obtain the best return on door investment it is essential to get a handle on your energy consumption because this is the greatest benefit that fast-acting doors can confer, especially in chilled and cold store applications where energy costs can be as high as 20-30% of total warehouse running costs. The energy issue also has legislative implications. In this respect the leading door producers will be happy to conduct an onsite energy audit with a projected payback period based on energy savings, which in some cases can be only a few months. Alternatively, these audit details can be downloaded from the potential door supplier’s website. Door operating speed should also be an energy consideration because the opening speeds can vary from 1.5 mt/sec to 4 mt/sec. Insulated, double-skinned, steel sectional doors can also vary widely in their thickness and so substantially affect energy costs. A good example is Hormann’s Thermo SPU 67 which provides up to 55% less energy loss compared with its earlier, 42mm-thick doors. An extra energy-saving initiative is that the entire door does not need to be opened if only pedestrians use it because of the smaller ‘wicket’ door fitted into the larger door.

Given that energy losses are usually the most significant aspect justifying powered doors one should not overlook the air gaps that can form when lorries back up to loading docks. Although not strictly doors, inflatable dock shelters perform the same function of energy loss prevention. They can also prevent ingress of rain onto the loading dock and so reduce accident potential and staff discomforts.

Accidents can form a high cost element during a door’s life cycles so it makes sense to ensure that the doors are fitted with accidentprevention devices or crash-out facilities which allow on-site staff to reinstate the door promptly