High-Performance Door Applications

Metal buildings require a variety of high-performance doors to operate. There are four common types of high-performance doors used in these environments: roll-up, sliding and bifold, as well as rigid rolling. Here are common applications of them in metal buildings and the door types that are best suited to each one.

Keeping raw materials and finished goods moving efficiently, providing energy efficiency and keeping workers safe

By Michael F. Watkins

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High-Production Work Environments

High-performance doors used in warehouses, repair facilities, food production and other types of production environments are usually designed to accommodate forklifts, trucks and other material-handling equipment. Many of them operate 24/7 and experience high traffic levels, as raw materials enter and move through the facility and finished products leave.

In this type of always-on environment, fast open-and-close speeds are critical to maintaining high-production, streamlined workflows. Doors must open and close frequently to accommodate two-way traffic through doorways.

Reliability and uptime are a must because door downtime can have a significant negative impact on operational efficiency. What happens if a door goes down? Material handling equipment may be stuck if there is only one door opening in the building. If an interior door fails, material handling equipment needs to take an alternate route through the facility, which decreases operational efficiency and could cause traffic jams at other doors.

Typical door locations include building entry and exit as well as doors that separate different sections of the building. Examples include providing temperature/humidity separation between climate-controlled and non-climate-controlled areas; a cold storage facility is a perfect example of this.

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High-Performance Door Types for Metal Buildings

Door types used in metal buildings vary by application and the preference of each industry. Here are the four primary types:

Fabric roll-up door. This type of fabric/composite door is designed to get out of the way of material handling equipment quickly, minimizing the potential for vehicle/door collisions. Door panels can be insulated and often have tight perimeter seals to minimize air incursion between climate-controlled and non-climate-controlled areas. They also help to increase the building’s energy efficiency.

Fabric roll-up doors can be equipped with a rigid bottom bar, which provides excellent sealing for areas with large temperature differentials, or a flexible bottom edge. The latter design flexes around obstructions, helping prevent entrapment and damage to people, equipment and materials.

Some roll-up doors are equipped with a “break-away” design that can take a forklift impact without damage. Instead of absorbing the impact, the door panel releases from the side columns. It can be placed back into operation within minutes, helping to minimize downtime.

The simple, durable design of these doors makes them very reliable—ideal for high-production environments where time is money.

Sliding doors (bi-part and single). These doors utilize fabric or composite panels and are lighter than conventional sliding door designs. Single panels are designed to slide to one side, while bi-part doors have two panels that slide in opposite directions to quickly clear the door opening. These doors open and close quickly, at speeds up to 125 inches per second, to
maximize productivity.

Certain applications, such as cold-storage facilities, have tall door openings to accommodate high-mast forklifts and larger loads. This type of door design allows access to the full height of the doorway as quickly as possible.

Like roll-up doors, sliding door designs incorporate perimeter seals that provide a tight thermal envelope. This makes them ideal for refrigerated and cold-storage applications.

Folding/bifold doors. This type of door is the most economical of the four types. It’s also a cost-effective alternative to impact doors and strip curtains that have been traditionally used in some facilities. Usually, these folding door panels are transparent, providing two-way visibility on either side of the door opening.

Folding and bifold doors are usually pneumatically powered, which means they can be operated via shop air. Their simple, low-maintenance design makes them a popular alternative for non-critical production applications.

Rigid rolling doors. For metal buildings that require extra security, rigid rolling doors provide added protection and security. Their double-walled aluminum slats and heavy-duty hinge system help to keep unwanted visitors out of your facility and also help to protect it against weather extremes.

See your door manufacturer or distributor for advice on how to select the right high-performance door for your metal building.

Michael F. Watkins is vice president of marketing at Rytec High-Performance Doors, Jackson, Wis. To learn more, contact