With winter approaching, energy losses at the loading bay assume greater importance and if your doors are archaic and energy-wasting then now may be a good time for a rethink , not only on the type of door best suited for your individual circumstances but also the supplier.

If thinking of high speed doors, for example, the fact is the quality, engineering and longevity of such doors varies considerably, and so, too, does the quality of after-sales service. Some assurance comfort on these issues can be gained when dealing only with members of ALEM.

If one has not done any energy audits of the loading bay then some of the leading equipment suppliers can help with free audits, or the Carbon Trust can help. Armed with such energy consumption figures it should be possible to discern a payback period for your chosen scheme.

High speed doors are not cheap but in certain circumstances they have been known to pay for themselves in well under two years. Door opening/closing speeds may be worth considering here because the longer doors remain open the higher the energy consumption, not to mention potential ingress of pests. Typical opening/closing times from most fast door suppliers is up to 2.5 mt/sec, but one on the market achieves 4 mt/sec.

Given the working rates of such fast doors it’s important to know one’s load cycles placed on them throughout the year because this will have a bearing on service intervals and thus running costs. Some of the best quality doors will achieve up to 250,000 cycles per year, which clearly lowers the overall annual operational cost.

There is a wide variety of doors, (air curtains included) to suit all budgets. Air curtains are an economical replacement for internal, fast-acting roller or shutter doors. They are cheaper to maintain, proof against forklift collisions and safer in that 100% visibility is maintained and unlike plastic slat curtains they cannot become dirty and lose their transparency. They can also cut ingress of detritus and pests and even deter rodents which don’t seem to like the sensation air barriers create.

The question sometimes arises about justifying the cost of dock shelters. Such shelters come in various types, some cheaper than others but cheaper types compromise energy savings because the seal between vehicle and dock is not as effective, which is not just an energy loss issue but a pest issue. The inflatable types give a good seal but a problem can be vulnerability when vehicles pull away and tear the inflated bags. One way around this is to integrate the shelter with traffic lights, wheel guides and other vehicle control features.

Despite all the safety improvements on the dock, still the most risk-prone part of any warehouse, doors will be damaged in various ways, including forklift collisions. It makes sense, therefore, to ensure your doors have crash-out protection so that they can be easily re-installed.