Low-energy door operators are a great product for locksmiths and other security professional to provide. They are used in new construction as well as frequently called for in retrofit situations, and are used primarily with swinging doors. I’ve had the opportunity to troubleshoot...
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Low-energy door operators are a great product for locksmiths and other security professional to provide. They are used in new construction as well as frequently called for in retrofit situations, and are used primarily with swinging doors.
I’ve had the opportunity to troubleshoot existing low-energy operator installations, as well as perform new installations; all of which involved interfacing with access control systems and external safety sensors.
Although there is a learning curve associated with taking on any new products, there are analogies between the various products. The more you do the work, the more proficient you become.
As a locksmith who has been involved in both the physical and electronic sides of security, it has always been pretty amazing to me how little overlap there is between market ‘channels’.
For example, the community of vendors and dealers who do automatic door operators have little knowledge of similar technologies in the security market. But this is all changing with the trend towards convergence as mechanical and electronics are combined into single hybrid products.
I’ve had to repair other people’s botched jobs. Anyone who has had to perform clean ups knows they require more skill and often take longer to do than if the job was done right in the first place.
I’ve been an expert witness in a lawsuit where an old lady was knocked down by an automatic door and later expired from complications of the fall.
I’ve had to design interfaces between access controls and door operator and gate operators.
Several different codes and trade associations address door controls. ANSI/BHMA A156.10-2005 covers power operated pedestrian doors. UL 325 addresses garage doors and automatic operators. ANSI/BHMA A156.19-2007 covers low-energy power operated doors. DASMA and AAADM are the two trade associations.
Last year I became AAADM certified, and I learned the critical safety issues associated with these systems. In 2007 ANSI/BHMA revised the low-energy standard, calling for enhanced safety measures to be in place.
The last thing you want is to be on the wrong end of a law suit, so if you’re working on these systems, getting certified and observing the guidelines and standards are essential.
Many of the gate operator manufacturers run their own factory shops, and I regularly encounter their techs on jobs. These guys tell me they put in plenty of windshield time, and I can tell you that these companies are sales aggressive and do their deals at the national and corporate level. I met several of these techs in my AAADM class; and I was impressed with their level of professionalism.
You may find that door operator installation and repair is a relatively untapped market in your region. But because the procurement and servicing of equipment in retail branches is managed at a national or regional level, you may never get a shot at a lot of this work.
Retail accounts are only one niche in the market and usually have full power operators and sliding doors. There are plenty of other opportunities for servicing or installing door operators.
In my experience, the main issues which the locksmith must address when selecting a low-energy door operator product line to recommend and install are:
Cost: This includes not only your cost vs. selling price, but also the unit’s warranty. Is it modular, allowing economical troubleshooting and repairs?
Rating: Is the unit you are selecting matched to the duty cycle of your installation? Issues such as door weight, wind and changes in building air pressure, and the number of actuations anticipated per day are all important to consider.
Don’t blame the operator if you do not use an appropriately rated device. Manufacturers tend to be very conservative when it comes to rating their units. Usually they have a larger unit available for when they interpret your site as being borderline for their device.
Is it necessary to stock several units in order to be able to install or service the variety of installs you will encounter? How’s the tech support?
With extra effort and training, locksmiths can become accessibility and security experts.
This certification enhances the locksmith’s image as a security professional and provides another tool for winning future door operator business.