Industrial door reliability is a key concern for most operators but do they bear some responsibility when doors disappoint? Today, more than ever, a great deal is expected from doors in often fast-moving environments but if they fail, which can have huge consequences in certain industries like pharmaceuticals, the cause can often be traced back to the user for many reasons.

To get the best from doors buyers should give their prospective suppliers full details of the doors’ expected life cycle operations or their special temperature needs. Buyers should also avoid leaving the door specification on new build premises to builders or architects, and instead choose the door experts, preferably members of ALEM, because the former will not likely have knowledge of door quality comparisons and after-sales service. The fact is that there are cheap doors on the market and so choosing them is often the first mistake buyers make. The second is to skimp on a maintenance regime. Owing to these two issues many door buyers end up having to go to a different supplier to replace their fast, roller action doors after only a short period in use. The buyers’ main concern, therefore, becomes the need to avoid jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.

Buyers can avoid that costly scenario by sticking with accredited door suppliers, who in most cases also provide complete loading bay solutions. These suppliers will happily take prospective buyers to see their doors in action at their various customer sites to obtain their feedback on all issues affecting doors, including the quality of aftersales service care. They will also carry out energy audits to provide payback charts on the selected door models. This is not the kind of information buyers can get from architects and builders.

Door buyers must also take care over their choice of ‘door maintenance’ companies. Generally, they will be safe when dealing with leading door companies, who if they have to subcontract out the servicing will only use companies accredited by them. The more dubious service companies may only inspect doors and their moving parts and only change components if they are damaged or in obvious need of replacement. A regular, after-sales service regime, of course, comes with a price but some of the leading door makers will train customers’ own engineers should they wish to do their own maintenance and perhaps save money.

There are other ways to ensure that door malfunctions, damage and even injuries are avoided or eliminated, but it is important to keep abreast of the latest developments. A common cause of door damage or downtime is collision with forklifts so it makes sense to consider crash-out or knock-out facilities that allow door users to repair or re-instate doors quickly themselves. It would, however, be better still if the crash could be prevented in the first place by a combination of smart sensors and very fast roller door action.

In this respect it might be worth considering the EFA-SCAN from fast spiral door specialist, Efaflex. Their doors already open at up to a remarkably fast 4 mt/sec but added protection comes from its new laser scanner, the only one in the world that can be used horizontally at doors. Its large monitoring area detects the direction of movement, takes the distance and velocity into account and so it protects the full width of the door and prevents door closure as soon as it detects a moving or stationary obstacle, thus preventing accidents. Its algorithms also make it false signal proof.

There may, of course, be circumstances where the movement of traffic through doorways is so frequent that a better solution than fast-acting roller doors is the air curtain. These curtains can sharply reduce energy costs and help keep cool air in. Door damage and injuries are impossible, though they would not be suitable in hygiene-sensitive operations because they cannot prevent bird or rodent infestation.