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Business Operations

Current trends in overhead doors

October 11, 2010
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Believe it or not, the door of your in-bay automatic can be a major factor in a customer’s decision to use your carwash. New trends and technology in the door industry can add to the value of your operation in a number of ways. The most important way is by keeping your door functional with little or no maintenance.

For most car care facilities, the overhead door is the front door of the business so it is extremely important that it properly opens and closes. Doors can also improve the appearance of a location. A door that is clean, damage-free, and without rust can be very inviting to your customers. Lastly, the correct door and opener package can improve the layout of your facility and help direct your customers to the proper areas of your facility.

Counterbalance systems
One of the most significant new trends in the door industry is the use of strap counterbalance systems instead of torsion springs.

The best torsion springs are rated for 100,000 cycles. In a busy location where you cycle the door throughout the day this can be as little as one to two years before you need to replace them. Springs also need to be greased to keep them from binding. The grease then drips from the springs onto the door and leaves an ugly stain on the panels. Also, springs are difficult to wind and can be very dangerous when working on your door.

Strap counterweight systems use a nylon strap, individual stackable weight and a simple winding hub design to balance the door. The nylon strap is extremely durable and will last three to four times the span of springs before replacing the nylon strap. Replacing a strap is much easier and cheaper than replacing the entire spring assembly. By using stackable weights, the system is very safe and easy to install or service. Another benefit is that there are no parts that need lubrication so there is no maintenance required.

Plastic tracks, hinges and thresholds
Another new trend in the door industry is the use of plastics for both tracks and hinges.

In corrosive environments, the only alternative to galvanized steel was stainless steel. Three-inch plastic track offers corrosion resistance at a fraction of the cost of stainless steel. It also reduces ice buildup in cold climates. The plastic material does not conduct the cold like galvanized or stainless steel track.

Also, plastic track is much quieter than steel track. Therefore, in applications where noise may be an issue, plastic is a good solution.

Plastic hinges are relatively new to the market also. Plastic hinges are becoming more popular in corrosive environments to help combat the increased pricing of stainless steel and are very durable and come standard with a 5 year warranty. The molded design has a multiple roller block so one hinge acts as a number 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 of your standard galvanized hinge eliminating the need to stock multiple individual hinges.

Plastic thresholds have become popular with people in colder climates. The threshold is mounted underneath the door and keeps the door from freezing to the ground by forcing any water to the inside or outside of the bay. Forcing this water away from the door also helps to eliminate water from the door dripping on cars as they exit the bay. In extreme cold situations and in applications such as carwashes, heat tape may be run in the threshold to be sure you will avoid ice buildup.

Air openers
The days of expecting the customer to get out of their car to open the door are past us. Your customers want to get in and get out with as little effort as possible. Air openers are very common to operate doors in car care facilities. Air openers are designed for higher cycle applications and can run constantly without heating up or burning out.

The newest openers on the market are ones that connect directly to your door rather than turning the shaft so they will never jump door cables. They are constructed of all stainless steel so it can operate in any environment and can mount either horizontally or vertically depending on your bay layout.

Another advantage of air openers is that they are constantly charged so when your door is down, it is holding the door down and providing security. Also, because air openers are always charged, a pneumatic emergency open button can be provided and the door can be opened by the button if the power goes out.

Josh Hart is vice president of Airlift Doors, Inc. He can be reached by e-mail at

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