According to the United Kingdom Warehousing Association’s report, Save Energy, Cut Costs, each year UK warehouses could cut their energy costs by £200 million, largely through improved lighting hardware and techniques, modern boilers and insulation but doors also play a key role but as such they do not qualify for Government assistance from the Carbon Trust.

Appropriate industrial doors have various advantages but in the pursuit of a carbon neutral warehouse it is the energy saving potential that stands out. But before any progress can be made here it is necessary to undertake an energy saving audit. In this respect, leading door suppliers like Sara, Union Industries and Hormann will undertake free energy audits for fast-acting doors to show customers what likely energy and cost savings they might make by installing fast-acting roller doors, usually of the PVC kind, but there are also fast panel section insulated doors like Hormann’s HSS model. These latter doors avoid the need to use two door types, an outer security door and inner energy-saving door.

The concern over energy issues has seen certain trends emerge recently. One is the demise of uninsulated roller shutters, probably owing to part L of the building regulations. Another is the need for a more effective loading bay seal when lorries back on to loading docks. The inflatable dock shelter is a good example.

Apart from the important energy saving aspect, fast doors are effective at keeping out pests and cutting down chilly draughts on warehouse staff which could lead to health problems. In certain manufacturing processes, like printing, cold Siberian blasts could also hamper production. Food manufacturers, in particular, highly appreciate fast PVC roller doors yet, curiously, many large food retailers fail to use them at public entrances so that birds enter to twitter and splatter over food. But industrial premise could also benefit from anti avian doors. One London bus garage, for example, uses a falconer to deal with feral pigeons, only to run into opprobrium from nearby bird lovers.

When choosing fast-acting doors it is worth considering extras like safety issues. These can include photo cells running ahead of the descending door bar to prevent collision with people and vehicles, and knock-out bottom edges, which save maintenance costs on small accidental knocks from forklifts. Comparisons, however, should be made between manufacturers’ crash out facility doors. Union Industries, for example, claims that its Crash-out & Auto-Reset Damage Protection feature of 20 years standing is more effective than those of some of its rivals. To verify such claims, potential door buyers should visit user sites for their opinions and leading door suppliers would be happy to help with these visits.

If doors must face the prevailing winds in exposed areas it is worth considering category 3 bottom beam stoppers for high wind resistance in the closed position. This will withstand 70 mph blows.

Most of the trend changes have been driven largely by the available technology. Sara’s MCC controller, for example, gives much better, smoother speed control and more programming possibilities so that it is much easier to interlock two Sprint doors together to form an airlock to save energy. These airlock door arrangements are particularly valuable in cold stores, whether product movement is by forklift or conveyor. They help prevent ice build up at door entrances and so improve safety issues.

Finally, as with forklifts, door buyers should look beyond the initial cost price and consider the life cycle costs. Buying cheap doors from the budget end of the market can, in fact, turn out to be a false economy, as the ongoing costs from constant call-outs, repairs and parts can be astronomical. Potential buyers, therefore, should ask existing users about after sales issues.

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