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High Performance Doors Are a Design Priority

With many of our nation’s auto dealerships rapidly expanding and renovating, there are important design considerations and equipment selections to be made during the process. New facility image requirements and the ever-growing equipment technologies offered to this industry have made the equipment selection process a full-time task.

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Selecting the Best Model for the Right Door Opening to Maintain Building Aesthetics

With many of our nation’s auto dealerships rapidly expanding and renovating, there are important design considerations and equipment selections to be made during the process. New facility image requirements and the ever-growing equipment technologies offered to this industry have made the equipment selection process a full-time task. Architects and design teams will present you with your brand manufacturer’s latest image recommendations for building designs. Input from you and your team is critical so that the most appropriate products and equipment are selected, which in many cases, equates to saving money and freeing funds that may be invested in additional equipment that initially was on a wish list.

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One of the best examples of this selection process is what it takes to pick out new roll-up doors for your drive-through service area and shop areas. In the past, selecting doors was a matter of specifying the least expensive roll-up door available or quickly choosing a basic roll-up door from a local door company; doors were not considered as an important part of the building design. Times have changed!

Now, doors mean much more to the automotive building design and have become an integral part of the overall building appearance. Aesthetics, energy control and functionality are all benefits of choosing high-performance doors instead of conventional roll-up doors. The Door and Access Systems Manufacturers Association (DASMA) High-Performance Door Division presented findings of a two-year research project conducted by a third-party lab and summarized the results in a DASMA article titled, “When a High-Speed Door Is More Energy Efficient.” The study demonstrates that if a door is cycled more than 55 cycles per day, a high-speed door supports highly efficient traffic flow and conditioned air conservation as compared to conventional overhead coiling doors. Before this study, high-performance doors were only considered in building codes and standards as being in a static or closed position.

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As a result of the study, building codes now recognize the dynamic functionality of high-performance doors, and how they offer an undeniable benefit by controlling air exchange. When slower moving, traditional doors are activated, the amount of air exchange is much higher because the door is fully open for a longer period of time. High-speed doors open and close much more quickly, so the air exchange between each side of the opening is reduced, improving energy performance in a building.

Now we know that overhead doors provide the ability to move vehicles in and out of the facility, a critical function of daily business for an auto dealership. Maintaining overhead doors, however, can be one of the most expensive line items every month. Introduction of high-performance doors to retail automotive has helped to reduce maintenance costs and down time drastically. The speed and automation of high-performance doors helps lower heating and cooling costs and increases through-put of vehicles. All of these features help reduce operations costs and enhance the customer experience, not to mention create a more comfortable workplace for employees because the doors keep the elements out and controlled air in. In addition, the aesthetics of high-performance doors are superior to conventional rolling doors and project a sleek and modern image, keeping with the progressive and modern image branding that car manufacturers are expecting from dealers.

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Until recently, it has not been cost effective to put a high-performance door on every opening. After all, some doors only see a few cycles per day and the equipment cost justification isn’t there. Architects, image designers and owners, however, prefer the look of all doors around the building to be consistent, including drive-through service lanes and doors leading to shop areas.

Here’s some exciting news: It’s now possible to maintain a consistent look of all doors. By carefully evaluating each door opening and potential cycles per month, it is possible to tailor fit the degree of performance needed for that opening with an appropriate high-performance door. Look for a high-performance door manufacturer that offers both high-speed and low-speed models. The models will look exactly the same from the outside looking into the building, but high-speed models are more expensive and selected generally for door openings that have high cycles (more than 55 cycles per day). Low-speed models are less expensive and specified for openings that only experience a few cycles a day. The cost difference between the high-speed and low-speed models could range from $6,000 to $20,000, so it’s well worth it to do an evaluation; why spend the extra money for high-speed when the number of cycles won’t justify the cost. It’s a winning experience for the dealer: Aesthetics are identical and money is not spent unnecessarily on high-speed doors where low-speed models will do the trick. It’s important to note that insulation values and automation is not sacrificed when selecting low-speed models.

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The best advice, if you are in the process of design and selection for a new facility, is to have your local door professional meet with your in-house team and your architect as soon as possible. Specifying the proper high-performance door for the correct door opening will streamline your facility operations and will help spread your investment dollars further to other needed areas.

Joe Jones and Alice Permigiani

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