Matching the Right High-Speed Door to Your Specific Application

Doorways can be one of the more overlooked or forgotten aspects of a building. But, they really are a major part of the movement that takes place in a manufacturing plant, distribution center or warehouse and choosing the right door is very important.

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Matching the Right High-Speed Door to Your Specific Application

Doorways can be one of the more overlooked or forgotten aspects of a building. But, they really are a major part of the movement that takes place in a manufacturing plant, distribution center or warehouse and choosing the right door is very important.

Here, we will examine four different applications and four different door choices, which in turn influence decisions like how big the entryway needs to be, how close electrical and mechanical components (if any) must be present, and the benefits of each.

Material handling applications

Warehouses and distribution centers typically have more loading dock doors than in-plant doors. However, in areas where interior doors are needed – like finishing stations or long-term storage – the preference is for doors that move fast.

While human workers on foot will traverse doorways on occasion, most material handling doors are designed for forklifts. These larger doorways need big, high-speed doors. There are typically two different options – high-speed, fabric roll-up doors and high-speed, bi-parting doors. Choosing between the two might depend on the immediate space around the door, as well as the preference of management.

Roll-up doors, like those in the FasTrax line, offer speeds of up to 100 inches/second and safety options like clear window panels and soft-edge technology. They can even come with features like impactability, which allows the door curtain to re-set on its side-frame tracks if gets struck and knocked out of alignment. Due to their roll-up operation, these doors have an extremely small footprint and are excellent options if there is limited room on the walls around them.

Bi-parting doors, such as the SplitSecond, can be an attractive option for companies with high-mast forklifts that need more immediate access from the center of the doorway outward. Doors that aren’t even fully open can sometimes be passed through and some can open as fast as 120 inches/second. The ability to see obstacles on the other side of the door faster can be an added safety benefit with this option. However, these doors need space on either side of the opening to allow space when the door panels are open.

Cold storage applications

Inside many food and beverage plants, doors really play a critical role in maintaining temperature separation, which is key for ensuring product integrity. Companies in this industry know that finding doors that meet regulations, while also delivering quick enough cycle times so temperature-sensitive products aren’t ruined in cold storage is critical

The traditional way to approach refrigeration was to install heavy, insulated, rigid doors with a high R-value. While they work extremely well for low-traffic areas that don’t require them to be opened and closed often, these doors also require strong, load-bearing infrastructure to work properly. These doors also tend to be susceptible to forklift damage if struck.

Folding doors or low R-value, high-speed doors are sometimes chosen as an alternative to minimize air infiltration. However, some models have poor sealing characteristics or an R-value too low to prevent frost from building on the door panel surface itself, which commonly leads to the installation of heat lamps or air curtains for the doors – and exorbitant operation costs.

Conversely, high-speed fabric doors offer fast cycle times that are excellent for high-traffic areas. While doors with high R-values offer better temperature separation when closed, their slower operating speeds are detrimental in facilities that maintain regular traffic between spaces.

Because many cold operations require frequent material handling operations, doors with slightly lower R-values that reduce air infiltration with fast cycle times become more practical. Not to mention, fabric roll-up doors with a single overhead assembly (like FasTrax FR) or low-weight bi-parting tracks (part of Barrier Glider) provide different options for walls that don’t need to support a big, heavy door.

Clean room and wash-down applications

These doors are typically used in pharmaceutical and food applications, two of the most strictly regulated industries because people ingest the products that pass through these facilities. As such, doors need to adhere to stringent cleaning and wash-down protocols.

High-speed, anti-microbial doors with wash-down capabilities play an essential role in maintaining clean operations and food product integrity. They are designed to address food facility needs for environmental control, productivity and safety (as well as cleanliness). In cleanroom applications, doors like the LiteSpeed Cleanroom, are used not only to prevent cross-contamination, but also to help maintain correct room pressures, air circulation rates and optimal operating efficiency.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleanroom standards outline recommendations and requirements for manufacturers. The starting point is to look for doors compliant with Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Key considerations for any door configuration are ease of cleaning and durability. In all cases, these doors must be able to stand up to repeated cleaning with chemical solvents and have a smooth, non-porous surface resistant to microbial and fungal growth. Doors should also have tapered surfaces and edges that essentially eliminate harborage of dust or other contaminants and possess no sharp angles to minimize harborage of microbes. Additionally, they should:

  • be corrosion-resistant (which is often a problem with older door systems);
  • use stainless steel side frames and shrouds; and
  • incorporate a lubrication-free design, since lubricants can attract particulates.

It is also advisable to avoid doors with exposed fasteners and coils, as they will take longer to clean and could harbor contaminants. To ensure complete 360-degree clean capability, look for doors with side frames that can be removed for cleaning and that the drive system and controls are completely sealed and wash-down rated (like the FasTrax Wash Down), meeting both USDA and FDA standards.

Whether roll-up or bi-parting, these kinds of doors weigh less than traditional stainless steel and fiberglass door options that require stronger walls.

Machine Guarding Doors in Manufacturing

Robots can help manufacturers by reducing labor costs and unscheduled downtime. They are also capable of increasing output, improving quality and workplace cleanliness. However, any manufacturing facility that operates machines with integrated robots needs to consider the safety of the machine operator at the point-of-operation. Machine guarding products offer an increased level of protection because they provide safeguarding that can be seen, instead of traditional light curtains that cannot. With physical guarding in place, the opportunity for accidental work stoppages are greatly reduced, improving productivity of the operation.

The right safety guard for your machine will be fully customizable and guard your employees, the machine itself, the machines nearby and the materials. It will predict and account for application driven hazards including airborne debris, heat, fumes, smoke, sparks, accidental discharge, spray/mist/fluids and mechanical movement. Automated machine guards can accomplish all of the above while requiring less manual interaction. Less machine/human contact also reduces operator fatigue and operator error.

Rite-Hite Automated Barrier Doors and Industrial Safety Doors protect personnel by containing the process and restricting access to dangerous robot/machine movement. Rite-Hite's Automated Safety Curtains protect employees from secondary hazards associated with your manufacturing processes, like robotic welding/fixed automation, production lines, machine centers, robotic machine tending applications, cutting systems, environmental separation, clean room applications, CNC routers, etc. Importantly, all products can be integrated into existing controls to completely automate the manufacturing process.

Understand How the Door Will be Used

The in-plant doors of a facility might not seem like the most important part of any large plant. But, choosing the right door for the specific application it’s designed for can have a crucial and long-lasting impact – whether it’s energy use, productivity, or safety – on the business operating within that facility.

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