Hörmann, Europe’s leading industrial and garage door  manufacturer, has been at the forefront of the industry for 75 years, and forged an outstanding reputation for safety, quality and reliability. Still family owned, the company has maintained its market leading position over the years by applying German engineering excellence to a philosophy of quality without compromise. The company operates internationally with over 6,000 staff in a network of 60 company-owned subsidiaries and authorised dealers in over 30 countries. Hörmann’s 17 specialist factories supply doors, frames, gates and operating mechanisms throughout Europe, North America and Asia.

Here in the UK Hörmann goes from strength to strength. It recently completed an integrated installation at Royal Mail’s new distribution centre at Swan Valley Northampton, which involved equipping 23 loading bays, and installed its latest specification high speed curtain doors at London City Airport fire station in just five weeks from confirmation of the order. In the food sector noteworthy orders include supplying loading bays, dock levellers and doors for fruit and vegetable wholesaler D & F McCarthy’s new warehouse, by one of Hörmann’s premier distributors Cooks of Norwich.

With budgets stretched taut in the current climate, it’s tempting to cut corners. But skimping on industrial power doors can leave both the end user and the installer exposed in terms of liability following an accident. Hörmann is working hard to clarify the position on CE marking, EU Directives and the end user and installer’s responsibility, and close the door on the worryingly high number of door installers and service  companies who fall short on their obligations to their clients by fitting ‘non-genuine’ replacement parts or non ‘type-tested’ door operators.

Alan Jenkins, Commercial Director at Hörmann UK, spoke to Warehouse & Logistics News.

Warehouse & Logistics News – Alan, when did you become Commercial Director of Hörmann UK? What were you doing before?

I joined in September 2004 to effect the amalgamation of Dynaseal and Seuster with Hörmann UK. Previously I was MD of Stertil UK, where I merged Stertil Airtec with RS Stokvis and Son. I’m a mechanical engineer by trade: I started as an apprentice draughtsman, leading to various engineering roles, then sales and business management.

WLN – What’s your favourite part of your job?

My favourite part is dealing with clients and helping solve problems.

WLN – Do you get involved in new product development, or client projects and major installations?

We have a highly competent team to carry out installations, but I do get to go on site and see unusual projects and new clients. On the NPD side, we’re exceptional in that all members of our staff are actively encouraged to offer comments to help the Hörmann portfolio. There’s a line through to our International Business Development team in Germany, and you get a reply in three to four weeks, often from the Hörmann family, who are very interested in further improving our product quality.

WLN – Who else is on the UK client services team?

The other senior client services people are Tom Langley, Projects Director, and Kevin Stothard and Phil Thorpe, both Project Managers.

WLN – What proportion of your UK business is industrial  doors versus domestic garage doors?

Currently approximately 35% is industrial doors. It was nearer 40% before the recession, however the domestic side is doing well and we on the industrial side are now seeing signs of a return to previous levels.

WLN – How are you set up to service the UK industrial market?

We predominantly sell direct to larger clients, but trade partners are an important channel, that we expect to grow.

WLN – Where is Hörmann UK based?

We’ve been at Coalville in Leicester for the past 10 years.

WLN – Where do you make the products you supply here?

We work closely with architects to create designs for UK industrial customers, which we manufacture in Germany. We also have factories in Holland, Poland, Russia, the US and China.

WLN – How important is the UK as a market for Hörmann’s industrial division ? What characterises the UK as an industrial door market?

The UK is Hörmann’s third largest country subsidiary after Germany and France, but the gap is reducing. The UK market is weighted towards roller shutters as opposed to sectional overhead doors, which are better established in Europe. We need to change people’s perception of sectional overhead doors: they are admittedly more costly but offer a better payback in security and thermal efficiency, especially if the building is temperature-sensitive.

WLN – The Hörmann name has been high profile recently with pitchside advertising at televised football matches. Which matches have you been advertising at?

We weren’t directly involved in the UK. Germany’s marketing department handles the advertising for all football events, although we have advertised at Six Nations rugby fixtures.

WLN – Hörmann’s 75th anniversary falls in 2010. Are you doing anything to celebrate it?

We decided not to throw a party, but instead carry out a series of promotions and offer special prices. We’ve introduced some discounts and launched a range of special edition products.

WLN – Which industry sectors do you supply high speed doors for?

The biggest sectors are food and pharmacy, but there’s a growing trend for fast action doors in the warehouse and logistics market overall, including in the back of the store as fork lift pass doors. We’re also seeing growing use in automotive workshops.

WLN – Can you name some major UK customers?

Our UK industrial customers include Asda, Sainsbury’s, M&S, Co-op and Bristol Laboratories.

WLN – Which different products are in your industrial range?

We have sectional overhead, roller shutter, folding doors and hinged doors  as well as roller grills in both steel and aluminium. Glazing and insulation option are available and to meet all requirements while our steel sliding doors can be fire rated.

We also ofer fast action doors and curtains and freezer doors designed to withstand -28C. We also provide internal doors and door frames, operating controls, dock levellers, shelters and seals, dock houses and accessories such as traffic bollards and lights.

WLN – What are your biggest selling industrial products?

Our biggest sellers are our sectional overhead doors, followed by dock levellers and shelters.

WLN – Which are your biggest selling high-speed doors?

Our biggest selling high-speed door is the V6030, which goes up to 3m/s and is available up to 6m high.

WLN – What are your latest product launches?

Our latest product is our Trip Free Wicket Door. There used to be a 200mm high threshold on wicket doors, but we’ve produced one 10mm high, which meets the fire and disabled access regulations. It also features polycarbonate vision panels made in Duratec, a Hörmann trade-marked scratch resistant glazing with a similar coating to car headlamps.

WLN – What Hörmann products would be in a typical loading bay or warehouse solution?

The list would probably include a sectional overhead door, a dock leveller, a shelter, an integral control panel, and traffic and dock lights.

If fixed bed double deck trailers are used then a dock house and scissor lift will be needed. For a major loading bay project, we would also supply pre-cast concrete as required.

WLN – How important a factor is safety, in the design of your products?

Safety is extremely important: all Hörmann products conform rigidly with EU standards or exceed them. On site we ensure we fully understand the clients needs and carry out a risk assessment incorporating this in the final design.

WLN – How easy is it to repair one of your doors if a forklift goes into it at high speed?

With a fast acting curtain door like our V5015, V5030 and V6030, which are all in wide use, it’s relatively straightforward. For doors fitted with our unique SoftEdge they avoid damage by unseating from the frame and can then easily be relocated by using the door opening mechanism.

WLN – Can your doors withstand impact at low speeds?

Most fast acting curtain doors can withstand impact at low speeds, some better than others. The best thing to do is ensure that there are sufficient and correctly placed sensors, so the door can open before being impacted. We have a large range of sensor accessories ranging from in-ground loop coils to remote controls by IR fob or radar.

WLN – Do you also supply door control systems and sensor alarms?

We manufacture all of our own control panels and operators and have a range of plug in PCB’s for various accessories, alarms, lights etc and for interfacing with other equipment.

WLN – Do you think the pressure to achieve high speed working in today’s warehouses is a problem in encouraging people to take risks?

We don’t see it as a problem: there’s so much legislation to control operatives, and incident rates have dropped. The big 3PL’s have adopted the best working practices, and automated control systems on loading bays have made a big difference in reducing accidents.

WLN – Are Hörmann members of any UK warehouse equipment industry associations?

We are active members of the Association of Loading and Elevating Equipment Manufacturers (ALEM), the Door and Hardware Federation (DHF) and CCS (Confederation of Construction Specialists.)

WLN – Do you talk to other equipment manufacturers about the need for greater safety measures and better working practice?

As market leaders we take a degree of responsibility for loading bay safety and believe we should speak out on this important issue. Manufacturers must be competitive, but also be responsible. We offer training for all operatives, either on site or at our Coalville training centre.

WLN – I gather you’re campaigning for better understanding of the regulations regarding power doors, including CE marking and EU directives. First, can you explain what the end users and installers’ responsibilities are, in terms of using properly certified parts and equipment?

Responsibility lies with the end user but the complexity of the regulations can lead to some confusion. Quality manufacturers can supply a door and matching operator that have been type tested and can therefore be CE marked when manufactured. In the instance where an installer takes a door and operator from different suppliers they are  responsible for CE marking and ensuring the combination is fit for purpose. The installer then has to issue a certificate of conformity to the end user, unfortunately this is often overlooked potentially a major problem for the installer and end user.

WLN – What’s the general level of understanding of all this?

Many architects and specifiers know the position, but end users have an appalling lack of knowledge. This is probably because they assume the installer knows what they are doing. Ultimately responsibility for health and safety lies with the MD of the company who could end up ‘carrying the can’ in the event of a serious accident.

WLN – What are you doing to communicate this information to end users and installers?

We include it in all our training and quite simply keep banging the message out. Every Hörmann door has a certificate of conformity and a test book. This is only handed over on completion of training and is the service record for the door.

WLN – Can people download guidelines from your web site?

We have technical manuals available on-line or via the DHF web site.

WLN – What‘s the typical cost of a high speed door from Hörmann?

Our doors aren’t as expensive as people imagine. A fast action door 4m by 4m is around £4,000: As with all industrial applications its not just the initial cost its the lifetime cost that matter. There are cheaper doors available but they don’t come with the precision engineering that ensures a long trouble free service life you get from Hörmann. Overall we believe we have the most cost effective doors available on the market.

WLN – Who polices non-genuine doors and parts, and non-type tested door operators?

There’s no policing: problems only appear when the door fails and hurts someone. With a Hörmann door you benefit from our reputation for high quality gained by ensuring we tightly control all aspects of manufacturing.

WLN – What’s the typical lifespan of a high-speed industrial door? How often should you inspect them? Can you give us a brief checklist of points to monitor?

The average life for a Hörmann door is over 10 years, but it’s down to frequency of use. For 2-300 operations per day you should check the door every three months: otherwise, every six months. In between, monitor the safety features, bearings and any form of lifting strap or springs.

WLN – Your recent installations for Royal Mail and D&F McCarthy sound impressive. Can you talk us through them?

The Royal Mail loading bays were all non-standard, used by a wide variety of vehicles, and incorporated many bespoke features. Considerable thought went into future proofing them for other vehicles.
The D&F McCarthy contract came through our distributor Cooks of Norwich. It involved seven loading bays, two with dock levellers, all handling chilled produce. The result was that D & F McCarthy increased their operating efficiency, and reduced their cooling costs. ?

WLN – With installation completed within five weeks of order, the London City Airport contract sounds like a pretty fast response. What’s your typical lead time in the industrial sector?

It depends: we can fit a single door in a day. LCA was a difficult installation, and meant working airside. One of our teams can install three sectional overhead doors plus levellers and shelters in one day.

WLN – Do you offer a 24-hour emergency replacement/repair service?

We aim to offer a 24-hour response and an 8-hour fix.

WLN – Have you any other major UK installations going through in the warehousing and logistics sector?

I can’t say much at the moment, but we’re working on a contract for a big retail distribution centre in Bradford and a major job for Spar UK, and looking at two large potential contracts in Glasgow and Andover.

WLN – What has the recession been like for your UK orders?

Not surprisingly turnover dropped significantly halfway through 2009 and only picked up in the first quarter of 2010 as suspended jobs came out for tender. Fortunately, we had several large jobs in hand to see us through.

WLN – How are things now?

Business activity has increased but it’s still very competitive. Talking to Prologis recently, they’re now looking again at putting up sheds on spec, so they’re clearly optimistic.

WLN – What products are you exhibiting at IMHX?

We’re showing our sectional overhead door with Trip Free wicket, the new ASR aluminium sectional door, the Decotherm insulated roller shutter, the 6030 fast action door and a dock leveller with a sound absorbing top.

WLN – Finally, where do you see the industrial doors market going from here?

The next phase for the UK’s industrial market will be refurbishment. A lot of existing warehouse stock doesn’t meet the higher standards now being demanded so developers are considering refurbishing existing stock. As market leaders we expect to be able to play a big part in this, by offering the best, most cost effective solutions.

Hörmann UK   Tel: 01530 513050   www.hormann.co.uk

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