Profiting From Sales & Service of Low-Energy Door Operators

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?

Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies has introduced a new and improved LCN Benchmark Automatic Operator that comes equipped with many new standard features and adjustments, such as intelligent Power Boost and Push-N-Go.

The Power Boost feature on the new Benchmark operator provides it with the extra strength needed in the last 10 degrees of closing to securely close and latch the door. As a result, wind, HVAC and other forces will not prevent the door from latching and users can be assured that the door is secure.

Another new feature is Push-N-Go, in which the door automatically opens when it is manually pushed beyond 3 degrees. This is an important attribute, especially for assisted living centers, hospitals and facilities used by younger children who may need help when opening a door. If this feature is not needed in the application, users can turn Push-N-Go off.

The new Benchmark’s control box includes clearly labeled adjustment pods, which make set up and fine-tuning easier than ever. Oftentimes, different applications require different speeds and features. With the new Benchmark, they can be adjusted in seconds. The clear labeling means a lost instruction manual is no longer the problem it used to be.

We interviewed Joseph Vaida, product manager for Electronic Door Controls at Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, to help us all to better understand this product and how it will fit into the low-energy door market. Here are our questions and Vaida’s answers.

What is the M.S.R.P. ?
$2,426 is the list price.

What is the warranty?
Two Years

How many components is the unit comprised of? That is; are there a separate motor, controller and power supply, which can be serviced individually? (I asked this because one low-energy operator from another vendor we’ve used in the past is a one-piece system, and if it fails, it stops being a door operator and turns into a door stop)
The Benchmark is comprised of a standalone control box (1 piece), a motor/gear box assembly (1 piece), mounting bracket, two end caps for the header, a cover and arm assembly.

Can the unit be applied to either the push side or pull side of the door? (We’ve had situations where we’ve been shipped the wrong hand motor or controller and its cost us lost time)

Can the unit be applied to the exterior of a building?
Yes. The Benchmark Unit is electro-mechanical, and designed for light – moderate traffic, that will mostly be using the door automatically. Although it is designed for these applications, it has been aggressively tested to ensure quality in most applications.

Some low-energy units have limitations with respect to duty cycle and door weight. Does yours?
The Benchmark unit has been internally tested to over 3 million cycles. Per the installation instructions, it’s suggested to contact technical service when using on a door over the weight of 200lbs. Further details are needed on the application to ensure that it’s the correct operator for the application.

Is an external delay module required for use with electric locking devices?
No. There is a delay activation option that can be turned on as well as a 24 volt DC output from the onboard power supply to power the locking device. This operator can be attached to an electric locking device. Failsafe or fail secure systems to suit magnetic locking systems or electric release strikes.

Are there terminal points on the unit for use with external safety and presence sensors and knowing act controls?
Yes. The safety circuit assumes two different functions, depending on which segment of the cycle is in operation. If the safety circuit is operated before the door is activated it will prevent the door from opening, or it will hold the door open if it is in the open position.

Is it difficult to coordinate two units of these on a pair of doors?
No. It will work with optional wireless sequencer that is very user friendly or be hard wired with a sequencer.
(Locksmith Ledger meant a pair of doors not two pairs of doors in a vestibule, but the dashboard on the Benchmark is simple, so matching them up should be a snap.)

The unit is designed to mount entirely on the header?
Yes. The Benchmark is available with a header length from 27” up to 49” for a single door. The customer can order specific lengths to fit their header. Further details are listed in the installation instructions.

How does the unit close the door? Is it a motor, a conventional door closer or a spring?
Spring closes the door under controlled conditions, because the system utilizes regenerative braking control for the closing speed on the door. If required because of unequal pressure that does not allow the door to close under normal force, a power boost option can be activated that will drive the door closed using the motor.

What if there is a power failure?
During a power failure, the door will function as a manual closer, utilizing regenerative braking control for its closing speed. When power is restored, the controller settings remain as set by the customer; there is no need for resetting.

The door must be essentially flush with the header? What if it isn’t, like if you’re mounting on the push side?
That will not impact operation as long as the unit is set up per the instruction if special needs are required then customer service can assist in installation.

What do you mean Auxiliary Stop is recommended? Like a wall or floor stop?
Yes a wall or floor stop is what this refers to, this is to protect the wall or structure the door is opening into. This is recommended since we have seen installers accidentally over adjust the opening and back check features resulting in the door running into the wall or structure and damage results.

What is a Premium PC Control Box?
Previously, the Benchmark was offered with either a standard control box, or premium control box. There was an upcharge for the premium control box because it had additional features that may not have been needed for every application. The new Benchmark eliminates the standard/premium mix, and offers all the features of the previous Premium, not at the price of the standard (which I’ve listed above). The new Benchmark controller also offers additional features which are explained in the sell sheet.

ANSI recently revised the ANSI 156.19 to ANSI 156.19-2007. How does your unit achieve compliance?
The unit has been tested to meet all ANSI standards.

The Benchmark brings a new level of technology and the LCN tradition of Made in the U.S.A. quality to the low-energy operator market. More information can be found on the LCN website at