Cold Storage Doors-Operation

Here is the dilemma for facility food processing/handling facility managers—do you cover the doorway with a thick panel door and slow down material handling, or compromise the environment to enable fast traffic flow?

Cold storage facilities require an extremely durable and reliable door that can open and close hundreds of times a day, providing fast access while eliminating ice and frost buildup. Take the doors used in food processing/handling plants for traffic going in and out of chilled and frozen areas for storage and production. At all of these facilities vehicles go through doorways hundreds if not thousands of times a day to meet split-second schedules. At the same time, temperature differentials can run 35 degrees Fahrenheit or more, and there needs to be protection against heat transmission through these 80 foot (ft)2 or larger openings, threatening both energy bills and product quality.

Safe at Faster Speeds

Doors play a key role in protecting the low-temp environment—if specified and used properly. In the storage and handling areas maximum temperatures for vegetables are 55 degrees Fahrenheit, dairy products are 34 degrees Fahrenheit, meat at 28 degrees Fahrenheit, and ice-cream at -10 degrees Fahrenheit. Waiting outside the processing or storage room can be temperatures that are 30 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. That warmer air can be transmitted through walls and door panels. As for walls, the higher the R-value for the insulation the better. But is that necessarily true for doors?

Bear in mind that doors have to get out of the way of traffic. So here is the dilemma for facility food processing/handling facility managers—do you cover the doorway with a thick panel door and slow down material handling, or compromise the environment to enable fast traffic flow? Not only is product put at risk if the temperature rises, but to maintain spec temperatures chillers have to work harder, start up more often, and use more energy while shortening their performance life.

One of the advantages of cold storage doors is that they are commonly custom manufactured to suit a particular building application and installation.

Therefore, when it comes to their proper installation, it is always best to refer to the manufacturers’ instructions and recommendations since details often vary between manufacturers. Nonetheless, we can look at some general guidelines for each type of door.

Swinging doors are dependent on the frame and casing to support the door, so the proper installation of these components is very important. Some consultation with the manufacturer of the cold storage enclosure may be appropriate to determine whether or not the frame needs to bear the entire load of the door or if the wall panel has some reinforcing for that purpose.

The details of the frame installation will be based on the option selected such as whether or not mirror casings or thru casings are used. One or both may be required if the enclosure panels don’t provide any other attachment option. From there, the door hinges can be installed so the door can be hung and set in place.

Door gaskets are likely already installed at the factory, but should be checked and adjusted as appropriate and as recommended. If there are any heated elements in the door such as the perimeter or the glazing, then the electrical connections will need to be made.

Sliding doors will also require some casing arrangement for the door to rest against, but the critical element here will be the installation of the track which the sliding door hangs from.

Placing the track on the outside of the enclosure means that it is isolated from the cold side eliminating any possibility of transfer there. It also means that the installation can take place primarily outside of the enclosure. The track length and location will depend on whether the door is a bi-parting design or a single sliding design and adequate clearances will be needed in either case.

Once the track is secured, then the door can be hung and door operator hardware installed. If the sliding door is electrically operated, then the operator will need to be installed and the electrical connections made. Separate electrical connections will be needed if perimeter door or threshold heating is required.

Vertical track door installation may require lifts or scaffolding to reach the heights of the open door and track. The track must be secured to the building and aligned to the opening properly so that the door operation does not interfere with anything else and will seal correctly when closed.

Once in place, the door panel can be installed aligning the operating hardware with the track openings. Gaskets need to be checked and all operating and latching hardware needs to be finalized. Then, any electrical items such as openers or heating need to be connected.

Regardless of the type of door, the final installation steps include final cleaning and testing. The door should operate smoothly and close securely in all cases. The seals should engage and prevent air leakage between inside and outside of the cold storage enclosure. From a maintenance standpoint, the doors should be routinely checked to be sure they continue to perform as installed over time. If not, they should be repaired promptly by qualified personnel to prevent energy loss or productivity slow-downs. If there is a concern about protection of the doors during use, then bollards, railings, guard rails, or similar protective measures should be installed adjacent to or around the door openings and side areas.

“Cold storage design is a specialty type of building use that requires specialty doors to provide successful design solutions. The current technology of cold storage doors allows for higher thermal performance and better operation but the overall layout and work flow of the facility must be taken into account when determining the type of door to use”


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