Winter’s inclement weather concentrates minds on industrial door effectiveness, a time that not only emphasises door quality to protect employees against the elements but also to protect sensitive production equipment from unacceptable temperature variations. Winter also stresses the need for regular maintenance by reliable, well-stocked service engineers.

When considering a new purchase, buyers should fix on certain essentials to achieve best, long-term results. One essential is to involve door and loading by suppliers in the decision-making process at the outset. Another is to deal only with ALEM members if you want peace of mind over quality and after-sales service.

Given that energy costs are a key concern, highlighted by the Energy Act, 2011, which comes into force this year, it makes sense early on to conduct an energy-saving audit if a recent one has not been done. In this respect the leading equipment suppliers offer free energy audits and tools to help them choose the most appropriate door.

A fourth essential is to avoid fixating on initial costs which can be a trap for the unwary for two reasons: 1) Any comparison between quotes must be on a likefor- like basis (often they are not) if fairness is to be applied, and variations here can be significant; 2) Owing to quality and performance variations, the projected payback from door investments can be wide. Life cycle costs should be a prime concern in any buying decisions and should not be overshadowed by initial costs.

Buyers should also grill their suppliers on after-sales service performance and ask for some site references so that they can be checked out. If any supplier demurs on that then beware. A good after-sales service is particularly advisable given that the most popular industrial doors, the high speed roller kind, may experience hundreds of thousands of work cycles per year. This stresses the importance that buyers give full information on expected daily operating cycles so as to help both parties choose the most appropriate door.

Damage to doors, often caused by forklifts, should also flag up the need for an appropriate door control and safety system and perhaps door crash-out facility to allow quick, on-site staff reinstatement. A combination of laser-based scanners and very fast opening speeds of up to 4 mt/sec, like those offered by Effaflex, can help cut door damage.

Cold store doors demand even greater attention to quality issues because any inadequacies here can have disproportionately high consequential costs. Look for the highest door movement speeds (4 mt/sec is highest) and a hermetic seal as close as possible. Consider also contact surface heaters to keep them free of ice and coldresistant oils to stop them freezing over. Many cold store operators use the two two-door approach to form an air lock but the latest generation of doors now offer a one-door solution, where the average open time is about two seconds followed by automatic closing. This can not only save considerable energy, which in cold stores can soak up 25% of total running costs, it helps products reach optimal temperature quickly and temperature fluctuation is minimal, so the compressor units don’t have to work as hard to maintain constant temperatures.