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Airlocks can provide an important layer of protection

10 September 2018

Alan Ryder, areas sales manager with loading bay specialist sara LBS, discusses the use of airlocks in the warehouse.

An airlock is large enough to accommodate a freight truck and has a large high speed door at either end. The outer door opens and the truck reverses in; the outer door closes and the inner one opens so that loading/unloading can begin. The purpose of this sort of air lock is to provide the best possible seal between the outside atmosphere and the internal environment of the loading bay and the building it serves.

Put in its simplest form, an air lock loading bay has doors at both ends which work in tandem so that the interior of the production hall or warehouse is always protected from the outside environment. This reduces loss of heated or cooled air to the outdoors to the absolute minimum and also provides a very high level of bio-security.

There is sometime confusion between ‘airlock’ doors and ‘interlocked’ doors – with many people assuming they are two different phrases for the same solutions. An airlock means that the two doors will automatically work together, i.e. when the first door is passed through and closes behind the vehicle it hits its bottom limit and automatically sends a signal to the second door to open. This means that the operatives generally do not need to perform a function to activate the doors. An interlock is where the controls of the doors are connected electronically allowing only one door to open at any one given time. This means that activation controls are required within the airlock that the operatives activate once the first door has closed.

Of course the quality of the airlock package is reliant on the components, so it’s important that doors are specified which match the requirements of the applications. The optimum solution will also allow free yet safe access for personnel and vehicles so that loading can be carried out quickly and efficiently. Because the operation is relatively complex compared to other loading bay equipment, the quality of all the individual components and the care taken with their installation is paramount. One component failure could stop production for a considerable time while the fault is traced and repaired.

Naturally, airlocks add to the expense of building and maintaining loading bays, so are only specified where they are justified.

 
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