Open The Door To Efficiencies, Savings

Factors to take into consideration include cycle times, traffic routes.

One of the factors that need to be considered when speccing a door is performance. Will a particular door provide the kind of operational functionality that is required for the doorway under consideration?

This is where traffic patterns come into play. How often will workers have to pass in and out of the doorway? Sometimes a door will have to cycle up and down numerous times in a single day. If so, it should be able to withstand such usage without breaking down.

"This is more of an issue with interior doors," says Josh Brown, national sales manager for TKO Dock Doors, Sussex, WI. "If you're using it 50 times a day, that's a high cycle. If you're using it 100 times that's an extremely high cycle. Know your cycle times."

He says companies such as his can upgrade a door's counterbalance system so that it can handle a great amount of cycles. The amount of time the door takes to cycle also needs to be taken into consideration.

"You have to minimize the amount of time the door is open in order to make sure you're not impeding the flow of traffic at the facility," explains Jim Boerger, director of technology and innovation, Rite-Hite Doors Inc., Milwaukee, WI. "A slow cycle time can kill your productivity."

In addition, the ability for a door to take damage and continue to function is a major issue.

"Durability is a very important factor that affects the basic performance of a door," says Boerger. "The customer has to determine if he has a very abusive environment. A lot of warehousing people don't realize just how tough their environments really are."

How close will traffic routes bring forklift drivers to doors? When product is not staged, forklift drivers have a tendency to cut corners when approaching the doors, putting them in an impact situation. Does the facility have concrete poles (ballards) around the doorways to prevent such forklift crashes? If not, consider installing some.

"Often it's the staged product itself that does the damage," says TKO's Brown. "Warehouse workers are staging the product in front of the door, lining up pallets and as they add more and more, the pallets start to push the others in front of them into the doors, smashing them. Sometimes a door just isn't easy to operate."

It might be that it gets hung up on its tracks too often, or requires too much maintenance to keep it functioning at its peak. "If you pick the wrong door and it doesn't give you the performance you want, it will cost you a great deal of money in the long run," adds Brown.

Giant Eagle Seals The Deal

John Webber is the maintenance manager at Giant Eagle's dry goods warehouse facility in Pittsburgh. The 27-year-old building has gone through a number of changes to the 70 dock doors contained within its 500,000-square-feet of storage space.

"We originally had steel doors that were very hard to keep rolling freely," says Webber. "They kept getting captured in the tracks and that was a big problem."

Downtime became a major issue. If the doors took a hit they would form a bulge in them and when they were put back into operation, they would get caught on their doorjambs. A maintenance crew would then have to go out and get the doors loosened up or pull the panels out in order to straighten them.

"The repairs were always mediocre and the door never sealed properly again," he adds.

Webber notes it became a problem in the winter trying to maintain the warm temperature on the dock.

Several years ago, Giant Eagle began switching to insulated doors from TKO Dock Doors, Sussex, WI. "They seal the doorways up very nicely and they're easy rolling and if they get stuck, they just pop free, because the plungers on the door are spring-loaded and fit into a v-notch guide reel, instead of where a wheel would fit," says Weber.

If the door is struck the pin retracts and allows the door to push outward.

"When you hold the door fixed in place, that's when you get damage from a forklift impact, but these doors move with the impact," he adds.

The newer doors have made a big impact on the company's ability to maintain the proper energy temperatures on the dock.

"This past winter, just walking out on the dock was definitely more tolerable than it had been in the past," says Weber.

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