Nobody thinks about warehouse doors. Companies will typically put doors through thousands of cycles on a regular basis, not paying any attention--until they stop functioning. Unfortunately, at that point a warehouse may have to put up with days or weeks of down time, losing productivity because it has to divert all traffic away from the opening to another part of the building.
"If it's a door that you're using to keep ambient temperatures separated, as in the case of a freezer or cooler door, you're literally lighting $20 bills on fire every minute," says Chase Deaton, national account manager for Rytec Corp., Jackson, WI.
Warehouse managers should take the time to spec the right door for each and every opening in their facilities, as each opening is unique; not only in terms of size requirements, but also in terms of how a door needs to perform in a particular space.
"It's not uncommon to walk into a food or beverage facility and see two to four different types of manufacturers' products on all of its collective doorways," Deaton explains. "Anyone who thinks one type of door will suffice for every opening in a facility is mistaken."
Price Vs. Performance
Often, a contractor is going to install the least expensive doors possible, such as cheap 27-ounce vinyl material that won't last long. Often the doors were never properly installed in the first place, the manufacturer was not there to do the startup, nor was anyone ever trained in proper door operation and maintenance.
Deaton says that most companies do not do preventative maintenance on doors and when they do have an issue, they try to work on the door themselves, often making the problem worse. Typically, to fix the problem a company will bring in a salesman from a different door company, who says he can solve the issue by simply installing one of his company's doors in the opening.
"They end up chasing their tail," he says.
According to the experts, warehouse managers need to ask themselves a number of questions when speccing a door for an opening. They should consider what the traffic patterns are within a facility, what type of door activation is best for opening and closing, whether or not there should be protection around a doorway, and many other preliminary questions.
Often, it will prove advantageous to bring some manufacturers' representatives into a facility to provide them with a first hand look at the application a door will be used for--whether it is an interior or exterior door and if it will be used to provide barriers for ambient temperatures, as in the case of a refrigerated room, a dry dock or a cooler.
"Without seeing the application, we won't know what's going to happen with the new door because we don't know why the facility is having an issue with the current door in the first place," Deaton says.
In addition, asking the right questions may reveal conditions within the facility that might be creating a negative impact on a doorway--such as improper air flow.
Perhaps exhaust fans are creating an imbalance that will lead to energy loss. Instead of doing a proper evaluation of openings, many facilities managers will automatically gravitate toward the most inexpensive door they can find, rather than the door that's right for the opening.
Door companies such as Rytec are able to bring proprietary software programs in to do evaluations.
"The program calculates the amount that energy costs per kilowatt hour in the city the warehouse is located in and the number of cycles a door goes through per day. It then provides the customer with their energy expenditure on the doorway," notes Deaton.
Such programs allow them to calculate the savings a warehouse will realize by installing an insulated door that is designed to act as a proper temperature barrier for a freezer or a cooler, as opposed to placing a hard panel door or strip curtain in the opening.
Traffic Patterns, Cycle Times Make An Impact