TKO doors help Wegmans keep cool
—and safer from employee injuries
Nov 12, 2012 7:00 AM
Preventing moisture on the loading dock floor helps keep employees from skidding into injuries. This is of particular concern for cold storage facilities such as Wegmans Food Markets Inc in Rochester NY.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, slips and falls are a leading cause for injuries in the US workplace, accounting for almost 15% of all lost-time accidents. The National Safety Council estimates slips lead directly to the hospitalization of more than 8.7 million people annually.
A family-owned, regional supermarket chain that is nearly 100 years old, Wegmans recently was named Best Grocery Store by the Food Network and the Top Grocery Chain in its category by Consumer Reports.
Wegmans’ positive reputation begins with attention to the safety of its workforce.
Cold storage facilities can be prime spots for moisture accumulation, especially around the loading dock door, and this moisture build-up was a problem for Jeff Smith, Wegmans’ facilities maintenance supervisor.
Smith has been fighting the battle against moisture around the dock for years. He thought he might have eliminated the issue by installing vertical rise freezer slab doors with heating strips embedded into the panels. The strips were intended to slightly warm the doors and prevent accumulation of moisture, swelling, and deformation.
The heating strips and coils, purchased as an option with the doors, shorted out and did not operate as intended. Unfortunately, Smith and his crew had no way of knowing because the warmth created by the strips is designed to be undetectable to the touch.
What Smith and his team did begin to notice was the poor performance of their dock doors. The doors began retaining moisture and taking on weight, putting additional strain on their drive motors. As the doors got heavier, Wegmans started experiencing maintenance problems at an alarming pace, such as broken gearboxes and clutches.
Steve Olak, maintenance manager, noted that the seal around the doors was a contributing factor to the condensation and added weight, particularly during warmer months. When floors became wet, Olak had to have the cleaning company spend extra time mopping up the floors to reduce the risk of injuries.
“By the time we became aware of these problems,” said Smith, “we were past the warranty and the manufacturer wouldn’t honor it. So we figured we had to bite the bullet and purchase all new doors.”
The answer was VertiCool doors, brought to the Rochester distribution center by Leo Kelly, territory manager for TKO Dock Doors.
VertiCool doors are designed specifically for use with vertical storing dock levelers on temperature-controlled docks of cold storage facilities. The 4"-thick, R-23-rated panels equal the thickness of the building wall to provide thermal protection against energy loss and increased year-round efficiency.
Another area of potential energy loss on Wegmans’ dock was the door seals. On a 20° F temperature-controlled dock, the single seal provided on the vertical rise freezer doors was not enough to separate the cold dock from ambient exterior temperatures.
VertiCool doors are equipped with dual side compression seals, which fill gaps along the door and are mounted directly to the door panel rather than the door jamb. Raising the door removes the seals from the impact zone to avoid damage and provide a consistent, continuous seal. The VertiCool door also has an equally durable double-loop compression seal at the bottom for a tight seal on the warehouse floor, without running the risk of the door freezing to the dock.
The number of thermal breaks is also reduced with the VertiCool. Rather than using standard 24"-high panels, the VertiCool employs 48"-high panels, resulting in 50% less exposure between the panels.
Moreover, the VertiCool door offers a full-height polymer thermal break track, which is enclosed in an energy-reflective foil fabric. Unlike traditional metal tracks, the VertiCool’s track design not only helps prevent energy loss, but it also prevents accumulation of moisture on the dock.
TKO motors are easier to access than the previous doors, although the motors on the older doors needed to be accessed much more often. This is due to the VertiCool door panels’ closed-cell XEPS foam core. Along with providing a significant level of insulation, the foam resists moisture accumulation, leading to longer life for the door’s motor.
From reduced maintenance costs and energy loss, the VertiCool doors Wegmans installed have made their all-around operations much more efficient.
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