Modern automated warehouses are designed to be efficient. As one of the busiest working areas within any warehouse is the loading bay area, it makes sense that they are fitted with the best automation technologies available. Tony Saunders, national sales manager for sara LBS, explains how state-of-the-art, automated doors can facilitate productivity and also help to reduce running costs.
The purpose of warehouse automation is to drive efficiency into operational processes, thereby reducing overall costs. Loading bay doors are a vital link in the constant chain of operations, serving multiple functions including security, hygiene and heat retention. Clearly, high-speed doors will allow operations to proceed more efficiently than slower or manual ones and integrating them into the wider automation environment will lead to even greater productivity.
In a warehouse and logistics operation, many of the major costs are absolutely fixed. So it is imperative that those costs that can be controlled are optimised against operational requirements. High-speed loading bay doors can be a major contributor to this by facilitating operational efficiency; significantly reducing heat loss and the associated energy costs; providing improved security and hygiene; as well as numerous other benefits.
Many sites are moving to operate on a just in time (JIT) or lean basis, with all functions optimised to minimise losses through inefficiency. Such an environment must operate like a well-oiled machine, with every stage of the production process moving in time with the next. Doors that are slow to open and close, or are awkward to operate, disrupt the momentum of production and cause bottlenecks at vital areas throughout the site; especially the loading bay. And not only can these bottlenecks slow down production, they can pose a safety risk too.
The benefits of high-speed doors can be significantly enhanced by making them ‘intelligent’. For instance, sara LBS offers high-speed roller shutter doors for warehouse and factory environments, which can be fitted with the patented MCC VectorControl system. Not only does this system deliver superfast, super smooth opening, it also allows installers to program the door to integrate with its surroundings.
At a basic level the advantages of MCC VectorControl include radar, induction loops, radio, etc. activation for automatic opening. At an advanced level it can fully integrate with an automated warehouse environment and will allow advanced functions. These functions include pre-programmed opening heights for recognised vehicles; preventing machinery from operating until the doors are fully closed; and opening with enough timed accuracy to let products pass through with only a second to spare either way etc.
While other doors may be able to achieve this, it requires a third party to install and program additional equipment. With its Sprint range, sara LBS carries out the design, programming, installation and commissioning using in-house engineers. This removes an unnecessary and potentially weak link in the chain, cuts installation time and costs, ensures quality and fully integrates with an on-going maintenance plan.
sara LBS engineers start by conducting a comprehensive site survey, which includes a calculation of potential energy savings (typically this is of the order of 5–10% and verified after a year).
Safety in operation is ensured thanks to the sara safety beam, a non-contact travelling safety beam, which runs in front of the curtain and prevents it closing in the event that there is an obstruction.
The Sprint range of high-speed doors offers the fastest available opening speeds – up to 3.2m/s – as well as a wide range of options, such as aluminium roller shutter doors, mesh grill doors, doors with windows, fully transparent doors, heavy-duty textile, PVC or plastic doors, specialist doors for food and clean room facilities, laser or optically protected doors, wind excluders, etc.