Door-buyers are always looking to save money on energy, says Alan Hirst, sales director of Union Industries, hardly surprising given the Energy Act, 2011, but who are the best people to approach and how do you sort the wheat from the chaff? In the case of new builds, architects and building contractors will have the specifications of various warehouse door types but they will tell them nothing about critical issues of quality and after-sales service. It is crucial, therefore, that door buyers approach the door manufacturers to obtain details for site visits to other existing door users. These will give prospective buyers a good feel for the reliability of the doors and the quality of after-sales service.

Energy costs are of prime concern to warehouse operators, especially if existing sheds are old and likely to fall foul of the Energy Act, 2011, which stipulates that all warehouses must have energy certificates above F or G by 2018, or face closure. In this respect, leading door makers like Union, Sara, Hormann and Stertil, will offer detailed heat loss surveys to calculate the potential energy savings that can be made. From such data is would be possible to work out a payback period for the investment.

Payback will depend on many factors but fast-acting roller or spiral doors can yield reasonably quick returns especially where one door replaces the traditional two-door solution of a high speed curtain door for daytime use, with a sectional outer door for night-time security. External consultants working for Asda, for example, estimated that Hormann’s high speed spiral doors would pay for themselves within two years.

Important though energy saving are there is far more to best practice door usage. For example, by installing 45 DPU sectional doors for Sainsbury’s RDC at Prologis Park in Northamptonshire, Hormann helped Sainsbury accumulate 22,000 tonnes of carbon vouchers and so enable the client to invest the vouchers in third world projects. Fast-acting doors also have health, safety and hygiene benefits, especially important in food store applications. Such doors are highly effective at keeping out vermin, including birds and their droppings, and by excluding cold, icy blasts they will improve the staff’s working environment and perhaps reduce staff absenteeism through illness.

An important part of door costs are their running costs and it is here where buyers need to be extra careful. In high forklift traffic scenarios it makes sense to consider accident-friendly doors which can be quickly re-installed after forklift collisions, the most common cause of damage in rapid action doors. Other damage can be cause by external wind loadings and neglect. Damage caused by wind loadings or high negative/positive pressures, can be a serious issue, resulting in high repair costs and lengthy downtime. Some door manufacturers, therefore, like Union Industries, have produced Ramdoor, which has achieved ‘Class 5’ rating for wind resistance, the highest rating available.

Neglect is another major issue and this is due to poor or non-existent servicing and maintenance. In the long term this can be false economy as more and unnecessary damage occurs owing to component failure through neglect. Servicing costs can be reduced if door users take up offers from some leading door suppliers which include training door users how to change the known wear items on doors. More in depth maintenance training can be made available for customers’ engineers by undergoing training at the suppliers’ factories.

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