Businesses anxious to get a slice of the burgeoning e-commerce action may need to re-assess their industrial doors because there is an increasing need to handle temperature-sensitive goods, which could include pharmaceutical items, luxury foodstuffs, live animals, rare plants and biological specimens, to name but a few. While such temperature or time-sensitive items may be protected in frozen/chilled delivery vehicles and temperature-controlled packaging/cases there is still a need to minimise temperature changes beyond defined tolerances and it is usually in the loading bay areas where the risks are raised or highest. Warehouse operators, therefore, should consult with leading door suppliers about their special temperatures needs, who will be amenable to conducting free site visits to undertake energy audits and see what needs upgrading.

Whether the need is to keep temperatures down or up, the geographical location of the warehouse will have an important bearing along with its orientation to the prevailing winds. Up in Scotland, for example, weather extremes are more common than in southern England, and so achieving ‘U’ values of 1.5 on buildings is paramount, advises Alan Jenkins, Hormann UK’s sales director, so the climate spotlights the need for fast-acting doors.

Most of the popular, fast roller PVC doors, however, have no more than an opening/closing speed of 2.5 mt/sec but Efaflex seems to hold the current record opening speed of 4 mt/sec. But the problem with normal high speed doors, as Alan points out, is that “they have virtually no inherent insulation value and give no break from the elements.” Many might think that a tad exaggerated because they do give protection from chilly blasts and wide temperature changes. They can also be specified with high wind resistance, particularly useful against strong, prevailing winds.

Even so, it is a point worth remembering and a PU foamfilled, fast-acting, slatted door might be the better choice because with such improved thermal efficiency the payback through energy savings could be far quicker than with standard, non-insulated doors.

If tightly-controlled temperature changes are critical to the warehouse operation then non-door items may need to be upgraded and the most likely area will be the devices used to seal loading vehicles to the loading docks. When any door is opened the internal temperature can drop by as much as 10 deg C within moments, and so attention should be paid to the type of dock shelter in use. These are often fixed and retractable curtain types but a better seal can be the inflatable dock shelter. An effective dock seal could cut energy loss by up to 80%, according to one university study.

It may be the case that some warehouses have such high traffic rates that the doors are left permanently open during working hours. This is where air curtains could be more appropriate than fast-acting roller doors or PVC slat curtains, which can quickly become opaque. Air curtains give 100% visibility, require no slowdowns for opening/closing the doors, eliminate door damage and can cut whole building heating costs by up to 30%.

As always with industrial doors part of the secret of success is to ensure you haves chosen a good equipment supplier with a first rate after-sales back up service, preferably a member of ALEM, but the buyers have obligations to the suppliers, important among them being the need to give them full information on daily operating cycles, currently sustained damage levels from forklift collisions with doors and injuries sustained from doors. This will influence the decision on whether or not to choose door crash-out facilities and sensors like laser scanners that mean doors can still react if drivers are driving too fast. The best scanners ae those with complex algorithms that prevent the scanner from being falsely triggered by rain, snow or extraneous light.