Making Facility Doorways More Forklift-Friendly

workerForklifts that operate in warehouses, manufacturing facilities, freight facilities and other workplaces all have one thing in common: They are constantly passing through lots and lots of doors.

When you combine fast-moving lift trucks with narrow, unyielding passageways, it’s not surprising that damage to doorways accounts for between 10% and 25% of all repair work in any given facility. And when a doorway is taken out of commission for repairs, it can inhibit a facility’s optimal flow, decrease productivity and cost the company real money — not to mention the repair costs!

How to Cut Doorway Repair Costs

There are a number of solutions that managers can use to help reduce the damage caused by forklifts to the doorways in their facilities, according to T.J. Kuehn, marketing manager for DBCI, a company that makes steel roll-up doors.


While enlarging the size of the doorways in a facility would help solve the problem, the costs involved with such a massive undertaking would make this approach unrealistic for most companies. A more affordable solution is the installation of a few bollards, which are short posts that can divert traffic from an area or road. By installing bollards on either side of a high-use doorway, you can slow down the traffic flowing through that entrance so that it is safer and there is less traffic.

Signage also can be used to help control the speed of forklifts as they approach doorways. Combined with reflectors, mirrors, painted pathways and other tools, signage allows managers to slow down and control forklift traffic so that there are fewer accidents and less damage to doorways.

Improve Operator Awareness

Along with signage comes something that isn’t a product at all: Training. One of the easiest and most affordable ways to reduce the cost of damage forklifts cause to doorways is to simply train operators to be more cautious while moving through them.

Another solution is rubber guide tracks that can be installed on the sides and jambs of high-use doorways, according to Kuehn. These tracks help reduce the amount of impact damage done to doorways, absorbing the blow so the the structural integrity of the doorway is less likely to be affected.

“These guide tracks are specifically targeted to the freight industry and are manufactured in one size: The standard ten-foot for freight terminals,” Kuehn wrote recently as a guest blogger on the website Today’s Facility Manager.

Doors with Lockable Panels

When it comes to repairing doors, managers can reduce their costs by converting their single-piece doors — which are made by panels that are permanently seamed together — with doors that feature panels that are locked into place, yet removable if damage should occur. Not only does this reduce repair costs, but these types of repairs usually can be done on site and are quicker, so the doorway can be put back into service faster, reducing lost productivity.

“Repair costs will always be a factor in freight terminal management,” Kuehn wrote. “There’s simply no way around it given the speed and constant flux necessary in its operation. The good news is managers can look for doors and related components that mitigate the need for repair. It’s the least that can be done in an industry that quietly keeps this nation moving.”



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