Going high speed: Door trends and industrial curtain walls in critical environments

January 10, 2020

By Jon Schumacher

All photos courtesy Rite-Hite[1]
All photos courtesy Rite-Hite

Although high-speed doors are not new, many of their applications are, along with the regulatory standards that apply to them. As such, choosing an appropriate model is more complex, and important, than ever.

For example, cleanroom doors are not just used in pharmaceutical facilities anymore—they are prevalent in a wide array of industries. Similarly, cold-storage doors have expanded beyond food processing plants, and are no longer evaluated solely on their insulating and cleanability characteristics (although their relevance to the food industry has only increased with the new U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA] standards, which are commonly referenced in Canada). In fact, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and its Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR), which have been effective since January 15, 2019, doors should also be impervious to moisture, non-absorbent, resistant to deterioration, smooth, and durable. By following these guidelines, as outlined[2] in sections 57 to 71 of SFCR, cold storage doors can help prevent a variety of hazards that would otherwise contaminate food.

Choosing the right door for a specific application can not only increase efficiencies, but also help ensure regulatory compliance.

Door types

The Door and Access Systems Manufacturing Association (DASMA) classifies a door as high-speed if it moves faster than 508 mm (20 in.) per second. It is a high-performance door if it opens and closes 100 times or more a day (also known as cycles). The most common high-speed door rolls upward into a housing frame known as a header when open. Bi-parting doors have two panels meeting in the middle of a door frame when closed. Strip curtains are sometimes used as an alternative option in food facilities in an attempt to slow heat transfer while simultaneously allowing quick access between rooms.

Cold storage trends

Bi-parting doors combining high RSI-values and quick cycle times are becoming increasingly prevalent in cold storage facilities.[3]
Bi-parting doors combining high RSI-values and quick cycle times are becoming increasingly prevalent in cold storage facilities.

Cold storage facilities are an essential part of the food, beverage, pharmaceutical, and electronics manufacturing industries, among others.

Inside a food storage warehouse, doors serve as a literal gateway between different temperature zones and varying levels of clean areas. It is important these doors meet industry standards such as the National Building Code of Canada (NBC) requirements for door design, fit, marking, and performance.

When it comes to cold storage, there is a trend for bi-parting doors that combine the temperature separation of a high RSI-value and the quick cycle times of a high-speed door. This is especially true for facilities with high ceilings and tall door openings, as bi-parting doors offer openings from floor to ceiling at the same rate.

High-speed, roll-up fabric doors are also gaining popularity in cold storage facilities. In addition to food, they are suitable for keeping pharma products at the temperature levels mandated by government regulations like the Canada Food and Drugs Act. This awareness shift is taking place globally, with the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) recognizing the importance of high-speed doors, along with the North American Fenestration Standard (NAFS), particularly NAFS-08, Canada’s standard for doors, and the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings (NECB). In fact, IECC’s 2015 edition includes a revision to Table C402.4.3, which describes the maximum air infiltration rates for fenestration assemblies. As a draft copy of the table[4] notes, their fast cycle times (up to 2.5 m [8 ft] per second) minimizes air exchange, which is a key part of reducing overall energy losses through a door opening.

Many types of cold storage doors are used in the food industry. While there is no specific ‘cold chain’ requirement in SFCR, it is paramount facilities and equipment within them have the capability to ensure food is kept safe. Frequently, the cold chain is a key component to this supply chain. However, not all doors in food facilities are designed strictly with the cold chain in mind.

Food sector trends

The fast cycle times of high-speed, roll-up doors minimize air exchange, thus reducing energy loss through a door opening and saving costs.[5]
The fast cycle times of high-speed, roll-up doors minimize air exchange, thus reducing energy loss through a door opening and saving costs.

Regulations in the food industry are perhaps more stringent than any industry outside of pharmaceuticals and medicine. Above all, they depend on cleanliness to ensure food products are safe for consumers.

One area that has seen a massive boom in recent years is the ready-to-eat (RTE) food category. This includes precooked meats, cheeses, canned good, bakery, and shelf-stable fare. The Refrigerated & Frozen Foods [6]publication expects the RTE food market to increase more than seven per cent from 2016 to 2026 to an estimated value of nearly $200 billion.

Clean areas and facility sanitation have been greatly affected by the RTE industry. To follow SFCR, food businesses must develop, implement, and maintain a written preventive control plan (PCP). The PCP helps businesses either reduce food hazards to acceptable levels, or (preferably) prevent and eliminate any potential hazards altogether.

As food facilities must adhere to a cleaner standard, it is essential to find wall and door products that comply with these regulations. New food industry-specific high-speed doors meet a host of North American regulations when it comes to keeping food safe, including SFCR, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and FDA standards for cleaning and sanitation. They are made of smooth polypropylene, which provides a strong resistance to acids and bases and a low water absorption rate, making them highly resistant to mould and providing superior washdown durability. Other food-specific enhancements include:

Industrial curtain walls

Much like how high-speed doors are becoming more prevalent in the food industry to separate temperatures and processes within a plant, curtain walls are increasingly being used for clean applications related to blending, mixing, and powder and raw ingredients, or other production operations. One of the most common uses for industrial curtain walls in the food and beverage industry is for the isolation of production lines so one can be cleaned while others continue to run at peak efficiency. These flexible fabric walls not only allow plant engineers to easily enclose areas and contain overspray from cleaning, but also help reduce the potential for cross-contamination during production processes.

Leading washdown curtain walls are constructed of durable, cleanable, anti-microbial vinyl fabric specifically designed for use in operations where compliance with federal food regulations is required. To eliminate the potential for harbourage concerns that can arise with sewn-together or velcro-locked panels, it is important to look for curtain walls using manufactured panels with heat-welded or radio frequency (RF)-welded seams and with air- and water-tight panel-to-panel connections.

Washdown curtain walls are typically suspended from existing ceiling structures or roof decks. Stainless steel components and hardware allow the walls to withstand the wet and harsh conditions occurring when production equipment is cleaned as part of best practices protocol. The protocol, considered a management system, ensures food safety is addressed, as biological, chemical, and physical hazards are analyzed and controlled—from the production of raw materials to the consumption of finished products. If the ability to open and close the wall is needed, heavy-duty stainless steel track and trolley systems are available to ensure easy operation, effectively creating a giant bi-parting clean area door.

The food industry is not the only one taking advantage of high-tech doors. Industries using cleanrooms and clean areas, such as pharma and medical equipment and alternative energy manufacturers, are using high-speed doors in order to meet current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) and hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) guidelines.

MAGLIO COMPANIES
Wisconsin-based produce processing facility Maglio Companies’ cleanroom and clean-area doors incorporate one-piece, ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMW) radial headers and side frames, which stand off the wall in order to minimize surface-to-surface contact and bacterial growth. Photo courtesy Rite-Hite[7]
Wisconsin-based produce processing facility Maglio Companies’ cleanroom and clean-area doors incorporate one-piece, ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMW) radial headers and side frames, which stand off the wall in order to minimize surface-to-surface contact and bacterial growth.
Photo courtesy Rite-Hite

In Milwaukee, WI, produce processing facility Maglio Companies has been using bi-parting and high-speed, roll-up doors to maintain temperature and humidity levels for a large variety of fruits and vegetables.

After trying mechanical sliding doors with high RSI-values (10 in this case), and then strip curtains for three storage coolers within the loading dock area, the company knew it needed a new solution. If the doors were bumped into by forklifts, the downtime led to moving products from one cooler to another at best and potential spoilage of food at worst. Meanwhile, the strip curtains could not maintain a seal due to positive pressure from inside the coolers blowing them out.

The facility put in a high-speed, roll-up door on one of the coolers as a trial. The setup included a fabric door that rolled up into a header above the door. A motion sensor on the outside of the cooler automatically activated the door on the approach and closed it once the forklift was safely inside. To exit the cooler, a forklift operator would use a pull rope or push button to raise the door.

However, it was quickly determined the door would not be able to meet their needs. The door made from fabric curtain was not flexible enough to handle the cold temperatures. A new door was installed using a more flexible fabric made from smooth polypropylene and aluminum sides that are easily removable for cleaning from a one-piece radial header machined from a solid block of ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMW) plastic. It was successful.

The quick cycle times reduced the likelihood for forklifts to hit them, and increased their efficiency moving through them. Those quick cycles also diminished air infiltration, which stabilized the environment and reduced energy use. The fabric of the doors proved to be effective in minimizing conduction between different temperature and humidity zones.

Before the high-speed doors were implemented, the compressors were running constantly to keep the environment cold. After installing the doors, the compressors would cycle off frequently, saving energy and costs.

Cleanroom trends

High-speed doors, like this one at Maglio Companies, a produce processing facility in Milwaukee, WI, minimize collisions with forklifts.[8]
High-speed doors, like this one at Maglio Companies, a produce processing facility in Milwaukee, WI, minimize collisions with forklifts.

Doors in pharmaceutical manufacturing take on a vital role in helping companies achieve and maintain a specified level of cleanliness for a given cleanroom.

Cleanrooms are classified according to the number of particulates in the air with the cleanest allowing for the fewest particulates. Maintaining an air pressure differential between rooms and pushing air from the opening’s cleaner side to the less clean side, is an essential function. Facilities generally incorporate multiple pressure steps within the building’s structure, ranging from 5 to 13 Pa (0.02 to 0.05 w.g.) between rooms, but can be as high as 50 Pa (0.2 w.g.).

High-speed doors are very common in airlock applications as a means to buffer different classes of adjacent clean areas. A door capable of at least 50 Pa in pressure differential is needed to maintain a tight seal and minimize air leakage. Given the requirement to maintain pressure differentials, doors that seal tightly and cycle quickly are essential in pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities.

Besides the pharmaceutical industry, doors in cleanrooms are being used in medical manufacturing and facilities that produce solar power panels. These types of facilities typically follow the design specifications outlined in International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14644, Airborne Particulate Cleanliness Classes in Cleanrooms and Clean Zones, which regulate airborne particulate cleanliness classes. Minimizing impurities in the air ensures these products are safe and effective once installed.

Naturally, a prerequisite in overall door design is cleanability, since doors must operate in a pristine manufacturing environment. Any high-speed door that is employed in pharmaceutical, medical device, or solar cell manufacturing must also balance the need for productivity with operational safety.

FDA cleanroom standards outline recommendations and requirements for manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and medical devices. The starting point is to look for doors compliant with cGMPs, NECB, and ISO 14644-1, Cleanrooms and associated controlled environments — Part 1: Classification of air cleanliness by particle concentration.

Key considerations for any door configuration are ease of cleaning and durability. In all cases, these doors must be able to stand up to repeated cleaning with chemical solvents and have a smooth, hard, non-porous surface resistant to microbial and fungal growth. Doors should also have a tapered surface and edges that essentially eliminate harbourage of dust or other contaminants and do not possess sharp angles to minimize harbourage of microbes. Additionally, they should:

It is also advisable to avoid doors with exposed fasteners and coils, as they will take longer to clean and could harbour contaminants.

The ability of cleanroom doors to accommodate site-specific needs is another consideration for industrial designers. These could include features such as vision panels, push plates, or other activation devices, as well as magnetic locks and (perhaps most importantly) interlocking systems.

Choosing the right door

Every application has an ideal door to meet industry standards while providing maximum efficiency. It is incumbent for facility managers to understand what regulations they must adhere to and what door solutions will make for the easiest and safest for workers to use.

High-speed doors, both bi-parting and roll-up, are gaining their places among industries depending on cold storage and clean practices. Due to their advanced design allowing for temperature separation and ability to withstand regular cleanings, many high-speed doors on the market can meet mandatory regulations such as SFCR, FDA, and also the HACCP Canada certification program among others, for the food, pharma, and emerging industries. Whether it is meeting cold chain requirements or cleanliness standards, or both, there is a high-speed door that is the right fit for the operation.

[9]Jon Schumacher is the director of marketing for Rite-Hite Doors. He has been with the company for 20 years and is the vice-chairman of the Door and Access Systems Manufacturers Association (DASMA). Schumacher can be reached via e-mail at jschumacher@ritehite.com[10].

Endnotes:
  1. [Image]: https://www.constructioncanada.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Image-9.jpg
  2. outlined: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/S-1.1
  3. [Image]: https://www.constructioncanada.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Image-1.jpg
  4. table: http://www.ecodes.biz/ecodes_support/free_resources/Pennsylvania/PDFs/2015_IECC_Revision_History.pdf
  5. [Image]: https://www.constructioncanada.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Image-2.jpg
  6. Refrigerated & Frozen Foods : http://www.marketwatch.com/press-release/ready-to-eat-food-market-to-exceed-us-1953-billion-by-2026-2019-10-14
  7. [Image]: https://www.constructioncanada.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Image-8.jpg
  8. [Image]: https://www.constructioncanada.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Image-3.jpg
  9. [Image]: https://www.constructioncanada.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Jon-Schumacher-Profile-Photo.jpg
  10. jschumacher@ritehite.com: mailto:jschumacher@ritehite.com

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