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Meet Bob. Bob is a brand new maintenance manager at a widget factory, Awesome Widgets. They make more widgets in less time than any other widget manufacturer – so materials are constantly trucked in, and manufactured products are constantly trucked out. Awesome Widgets is based in the northeast – with snowy winters and hot summers. Because of this, and for security reasons, they close their rolling steel doors after every truck enters or exits the facility.
Six months in, Bob is frustrated. He’s had to pay for several service calls because parts on the overhead roll up doors at the facility keep malfunctioning, and now the spring that drives the overhead coiling door open and closed has snapped on one of his most-used openings. Bob is convinced that rolling steel doors are pieces of garbage. Bob is wrong.
Bob reached out to a high performance roll up door company to find what he can do to fix his situation. He found out it’s all about choosing the right product for the job. Just like you wouldn’t enter your four-cylinder Ford Taurus into the Indy 500, you can’t expect a standard rolling steel door to do the job of high performance or high speed roll up doors.
To make sure you have the right door for the job, it needs to:
In short, you’ll want it to be a no brainer for you to determine when high performance overhead doors or high speed roll up doors are what you need. When it comes to high performance overhead door companies, Bob found out a good overhead rolling door company with a proven track record, long history of high quality and a top staff of professionals will help walk him through what he needs and what overhead door product is best for him.
What is a High Performance Overhead Door?
The Door and Access Systems Manufacturers Association (DASMA) defines high performance doors as follows: “A power-operated rolling, folding or sliding non-residential door, generally characterized by either 100 or more cycles per day or 20 or more inches per second opening speed, and typically made-to-order and/or designed for higher durability, and/or designed to break away due to equipment impact”.
Breaking it down, the industry definition of high performance doors states that they:
This is a great general definition, but there are a lot of and/ors that can lead to ambiguity. So if you have an overhead coiling door opening that meets the general definition of cycling 100+ times a day or that you need to open quickly, you know you need a high performance door. But what kind? For true high use openings, you need a high performance door that has ALL of the following attributes:
1) Overhead Door Speed
If an overhead garage door opening is going to be open and closed frequently, time is of the essence. In a scenario where a driver or forklift operator needs to wait until the overhead door has opened to pass through, a slow roll up door can lead to hundreds of hours of lost productivity.
Let’s say our Awesome Widgets factory has a standard rolling steel door that is 20 feet tall.
Standard Rolling Service Door:
Height = 240 inches
Opening Speed = 8 inches per second
Door Opens = 30 seconds
High Performance Rolling Door:
Height = 240 inches
Opening Speed = 24 inches per second
Door Opens = 10 seconds
Savings = 20 seconds/per door opening
So, taking that 20 second saving and extrapolating that across 100 cycles per day in a 24/365 operation, you end up with a total savings of 202 hours per year. That's crazy, right?
But here's the flip side - once you get past a certain speed, speed starts to matter less, but the cost can go way up. DASMA defines a high speed door as one that opens at a speed of at least 32 inches per second, and some can go faster. That said, the cost of some high speed roll up doors can be more than double the cost of a high performance product that opens at speeds of 24 inches per second. You need to consider if the extra cost is worth it for a commercial overhead door that can open in six seconds rather than 10.
2) Roll Up Garage Door Durability
A true high performance rolling door must be built for durability from the bottom up. There is a myth circulating in the industry that springs = cycle life. If everything about your high performance garage door is the same as a standard service door, but you put high cycle springs on it, you have a high-cycle-spring door – not a high performance coiling door. In fact, the gold standard for high performance rolling doors is actually a springless overhead door design. Springs inevitably wear out and need to be replaced, causing downtime and maintenance fees. So what else needs to be built for high performance? The operator, for one, needs to be able to handle the maximum number of cycles in the minimum amount of time you expect to use it. A direct drive overhead door operator is a good investment, as there are no chains or sprockets to wear out. And it should feature a soft start and stop. On open, the speed of a best-in-class, high performance roll up door should start opening slow, ramp up in the middle, and then slow down before reaching the fully open position. Why? To reduce wear and tear on all rolling door components, but especially the operator. The guides (metal channels that hold the curtain in) also need to be robust enough to handle frequent fast operation. Look for self-lubricating guides to prolong curtain life.
3) Overhead Coiling Door Safety
Of course, we can’t talk about overhead rolling doors without talking about safety.High performance roll up doors should come with light curtains and photo eyes as standard. A lower photo eye is very well known – it’s the device on most house garage doors that halts downward progress of the door when something breaks the single beam at the bottom. It’s very good at making sure people don’t get trapped in the door. But in a fast-paced, high use environment, there are times when a lower photo eye may not be enough. Picture a full load on a forklift, and for some reason the driver stops to chat with a coworker, parking with the forks in the path of the door. A photo eye may not see the forks and would allow the overhead door to close - potentially damaging the load and the forklift, not to mention the potential harm to the forklift operator. That's when a light curtain, which provides up to six feet of continuous protection, is necessary to ensure safety.
Next, Bob finds out when to install a high performance overhead door or a standard overhead rolling door.
Siva Davuluri serves as director of product strategy for high performance doors at CornellCookson Inc. He has been in his current role for five years at the Mountain Top, PA based company, which is the largest coiling door manufacturer in the USA. Davuluri has more than ten years of experience in design, development and commercialization of new products. He graduated from North Dakota State University with a Master of Mechanical Engineering degree and completed his Master of Business Administration degree from Cornell University. He is also a member of the technical committee for high performance doors at DASMA, North America’s trade association for manufacturers of garage doors, rolling doors, high performance doors and access systems.