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Hormann looks at the big picture

11 February 2014

Temperature controlled operations have always been leading the logistics industry in terms of energy efficiency and environmental impact, since this represents a key element of their cost management.

When it comes to cold stores, doors and loading areas are a critical element, simply because of the potential heat losses and added energy costs that inefficient systems can create. Hence, temperature controlled operators have been at the forefront of the move to make greater use of fast action doors and better insulation of loading bays, to improve thermal performance.

As well as the specific characteristics of individual components, understanding how the combinations chosen affect operational activity and safety is a crucial element of the planning process. This is why Hörmann has a dedicated team of project engineers who work onsite to furrther develop their extensive knowledge and expertise, while ensuring exact requirements are understood and met.

This approach extends beyond the choice of equipment to a more holistic view of the requirements, to ensure that the best solution is developed for every operator. Taking the view that there is no such thing as a standard solution enables Hörmann to accelerate its new product development processes, which leads to new ideas being implemented.

Working in this way lends itself to collaborating with other companies, so that by combining expertise and being open to new ideas, better solutions are developed. Insulating the underside of dock levellers and configuring a loading bay so that the insulated door closes in front of the dock leveller, to stop it acting as a thermal bridge, is now considered standard practice, but was originally developed by Hörmann and ISD solutions for a specific project.

The development of single envelope cold stores, for which ISD Solutions is a recognised leader, has made the choice of door and loading bay options, and their compatibility with the overall concept, even more significant.

Working with other suppliers is an important part of both the design and installation processes. As an example, for freezer operations air curtains are often specified to prevent 'snowing' when cold frozen air meets chilled or ambient air, as the door opens. Linking an air curtain to the door mechanism could reduce the time it is operating and therefore energy cost. However, it is important to select the right combination of products to ensure real savings are made. Other choices, such as placing operating mechanisms, that can raise the surrounding temperature, outside the freezer can help to keep cost down but need to be planned and implemented carefully.

Recent distribution centre developments have been adopting a loading lobby design, particularly for frozen and chilled areas. Here, external and internal high speed doors help to minimise any heat transfer, and in some cases are interlocked so that only one door can be open at a time. This option also lends itself to refurbishment projects, as a dock house can be added to the exterior of a building to create a lobby.

For the operator or developer understanding the choices and the pay-back timescale for a development is becoming a much more complex process. Energy saving measures are readily quantifiable; however, better reliability and improved safety also add to the bottom line by minimising downtime and improving operational efficiency.

While Hörmann's free online planning tool, the Energy Saving Compass shows a number of options and their payback timescales, the knowledge and understanding of a customer's needs, that the company's project engineers bring, adds real value in developing the best solution to meet individual requirements.

As operations strive to be leaner and more efficient, the reliability and longevity of loading equipment and doors becomes ever more critical. The planning process now extends to understanding service requirements. Preventative maintenance and regular servicing is now recognised as a cost saving measure, and planning for this from the outset can minimise any operational disruption.

By truly looking at the big picture from the initial idea to the long-term operation and adaptability of a project, Hörmann is providing better, safer, more efficient designs for temperature controlled operations.