Expanded Web Version: Door Operators: Opening The Door To New Revenue Streams

April 5, 2010
Automatic doors and operators can cause serious injury or death, when not correctly and safely adjusted and maintained. Only AAADM certified technicians should repair, adjust or maintain automatic doors.

Like many lockshops, mine has been in business for decades, and the shop has earned itself a place in the community as the go-to place for keys and other associated traditional locksmithing.

As is the situation in most places, the market has transitioned and many of what were once consistent revenue streams have dried up or even disappeared. So the owners responded by being more competitive with the other locksmith shops in terms of response time, selection and value, and by entering new marketing channels which previously did not exist, which they had limited expertise, or which did not initially seem like they would be profitable areas.

The owner’s initiative paid off by enabling consistent growth despite the crippled housing market, competition from home improvement centers, a market flooded with Asian imports, electronic ignitions, and consumers more worried about keeping the homes than about upgrading door hardware.

By launching into electronic security, the shop which was on the verge of bankruptcy as recently as five years ago has increased its gross sales about 60 percent, with over half of the action being in electronic products such as security video, electronic access control and door operators. Although the fact that this was an established lockshop which helped to keep the phone ringing, having the new lines to offer and taking initiative kept a half dozen trucks rolling and allowed growth to occur.

We do a fair amount of door operator repairs and installations. With AADM certification, we get to do service calls for national facility management firms, and are able to design and sell new installations with a degree of professionalism that affiliation with a national trade association brings.

The spinoffs work both ways. You initially get involved with a door lock, and wind up installing a door operator. You initially are asked to quote a door operator, and you wind up selling video and card access. Of course this only happens if your technicians are alert to opportunities as they come along.

We primarily use low energy operators which are typically retrofitted on existing doors, and require only a minimum of safety accessories. However, they absolutely require professional installation techniques and precise adjustments in order to assure safe and reliable operation.

The most recent project was for an independent living facility. They wanted to put the door on an automatic timer so it would lock and unlock on a schedule, and they wanted a door operator for the convenience of their residents, some of whom were using walkers or wheel chairs.

The only existing equipment we could use besides the door itself was an electromagnetic lock which had been installed during the renovation about 10 years ago, but which no one knew why. It never locked.

We used the Falcon #8230 door operator, which is a reasonably priced device suitable for our aluminum door and anticipated duty cycle. The door itself was only opened a couple of hundred times a day, and it would not be used for more than 25 percent of the time.

One of the system objectives was to automatically lock the door every evening and unlock it every morning. The Securitron DT-7 timer was specified, because it is easy to program and a proven performer.

For safe egress, we paired a Securitron XMS motion detector with the Securitron EEB2 exit switch that has an integral timer, which together is an approved solution for life safety compliant control of a door with a maglock.

Normally the XMS will detect a person approaching the door and release the electromagnetic lock allowing egress. In the interest of life safety, an exit button is required which, when pressed, will also unlock the door if the motion sensor fails to unlock the door.

When a traditional Exit button is pressed, the circuit is interrupted for as long as the button is pressed. This means that the person attempting to egress must hold the button down and push on the door at the same time.

For many reasons, this is not considered a safe or practical situation. The EEB2 has a timed operation, so that once the button is pressed, the maglock remains unlocked for 30 seconds, giving the person an extended length of time to reach the door, open it and leave.

So the residents could get in after hours when the electromagnetic lock would secure the door, the ESSEX SKE-34S piezo-keypad was used. User codes are programmed into the unit right at the keypad. No audit trail is available with the SKE, but for this project, none was required. The SKE is a robust attractive sealed keypad with no moving parts. Each time a key is pressed, an audible tone signals the user, and when the code entry is completed, a green LED illuminates and the keypad beeps three times. Door open time is programmable from 1 to 99 seconds.

Door operator systems require what is referred to as KNOWING ACT device which provides pedestrians an intentional means of activating a door operator, for example a wall switch, card reader, ceiling mounted pull cord switch, etc.

LCN offers a wide selection of these products and we supplied their model 8310/ 856T Round Wall Actuators with surface-mounted back boxes.

The system would be programmed to lock and lock on a schedule. Since this is a residence, and not a school or business, there were no concerns about snow days where a timer controlled door might unlock even if no one was coming in.

During the day when the door was unlocked, both entry and egress handicapped buttons would be operative.

After hours, when the door was locked, we still wanted the exit handicapped button to operate, but for individuals wishing to enter the facility the customer wanted visitors and guests to first enter their access code which would unlock the electromagnetic lock, and also ‘enable’ the entry handicapped button.

Measure carefully. Installation of the door operator requires that it be mounted in the correct location on the door frame, and the ‘shoe’ which is the part of the operator arm which mounts on the door be located in the location appropriate for the door width, door rail width and the door and frame “reveal.” The reveal is the dimension in inches between the face of the door and the surface of the door frame on which the door operator is mounted. The width of the door frame where the show is mounted is a critical measurement, because the arm must be parallel with the floor to look and operate correctly, and height where the shoe will be happy on the frame is a function of the height at which the door operator is mounted.

Line voltage must be provided to the door operator, as well as low voltage control and output wiring which will vary with the installation. It is important that the line voltage to the door operator cannot be run in the same conduit as the low voltage lines. Our project used metal wiremold so we had to provide separate paths for low voltage and line voltage. We left connection of line voltages to an electrician provided by the client.

The Falcon 8230/8240 Operator is a low energy automatic electromechanical swinging door operator for use on hinged, center pivoted and offset pivoted doors.

The product is designed for applications like assisted living and ambulatory care, low traffic store front entrances, or automating interior doors for added assistance.

An integrated intelligent power boost graduates additional closing assist when door nears latch. This feature helps to ensure secure closing to overcome external conditions and pressure differentials. The control box demonstrates its intelligence by detecting obstructions and will temporarily reprogram opening degree to avoid abuse to the door.

Adjustable features include:

Hold-open time delay

Backcheck speed

Backcheck/latch position

Opening/closing speed

SmartLatch – Senses and overcomes external pressure conditions with a graduated energy assist

Push ‘n’ Go – Selectable feature allows door to open automatically as soon as it feels pressure.

Open Position Learning – Automatically sets the opening position to eliminate wall and door damage.

Obstacle Obstruction Detection

Pre-Load Strike Assist – Removes load on strike lip with a one second delay allowing the door to release and automatically open.

LED Light Illumination

OnBoard Power Supply (12 VAC)


LCN & Falcon offer several models of automatic door operators. But how do you know which model is right for your application? Locksmith Ledger asks Ingersol Rand's Joseph Vaida, product manager, electronic door controls, for his advice and insights into door operator selection.

Locksmith Ledger: The Benchmark III; 4630/4640 LCN Auto-Equalizer & Falcon 8230/8240 are three of your low energy swing door operators which vary in price and features. What is the warranty on each of these?

Vaida: Benchmark = 2 years

4600 = 2 years

Falcon 8200 = 1 year

What is the service posture for each of these (modules, factory repair, etc.)

Vaida: All of these products have parts available that are modular. Replacement controllers, arms, covers, etc can be ordered for each unit for field repair. 4600 has additional orderable parts including the I/O board, motor, clutch, etc.

What is the recommended application of each? For example if the particular door operator is recommended for doors which will be opened primarily with the door operator, or mostly manually, etc.

Vaida: Benchmark = Primarily automated for moderate traffic applications. As long as traffic is at a moderate abuse level, then this product can be used manually as well. It has a low manual opening force and has a bit more features and interfaces than the Falcon 8200.

4600 = Primarily Manual application. The 4600 is one of very few electro hydraulic operators that actually operates completely independently of the motor and system when used manually. The clutch is magnetized, so when the unit is manually used it is only exercising the closer. This makes it ideal for applications when most people will be using this as a regular door closer, and occasionally pressing the motor. The clutch design is also ideal because if the product is being using automatically and the door is abused, the clutch will “slip” intentionally to relieve damage to the unit. The biggest damage and wear/tear in a automatic operator is abuse to the motor and mechanical system, this product avoids that.

Falcon 8200 = Similar application to the Benchmark… not as many bells and whistles, but is designed specifically to be easy to install and program. It also can be used in manual applications as well, but in a less abusive environment.

I notice that there does not seem to be any obvious correlation between price and duty cycle, please clarify.

Vaida: Personally – I feel the industry needs to focus less on duty cycle, and more on abuse. If you’ll notice, I’ve gradually began to remove “cycle tested” information from our marketing literature in attempts to focus on more real world situations in regards to abuse, damage, and overall quality. Lab testing and “cycles” do not duplicate “real world” abuse, as I’m sure you can personally relate. You can put an operator up in the lab, cycle it to XX million cycles… but the first time someone pushes against it the motor could blow. The LCN Automatic operators are designed to be robust in order to handle pedestrian use and abuse. The prices on these models are directly reflective of how they are suited for a particular application (listed below). I always relate it to cars, and MPG. You can take a Chevy Cavalier and drive it to a few hundred thousand highway miles… but does that make it the right car for every application? What about city driving, or off road? Similarly, a truck may get terrible gas mileage and only run to 150K miles… but if you live in central PA or the Virginia’s… it might be a must!

Sorry – anyhow – point being… We’re not like other automatic operator manufactures who can drop price and rely on our revenue stream coming from Service contracts. We need to be sure our products last in real world conditions, so customers don’t need to have someone come in every 6 to 12 months for a visit. Here’s a positioning below.

4600 – this is our highest list price. The clutch feature is not cheap, but it’s critical. Having that closer act completely independently from the motor when used manually is absolutely critical for long life expectations in abusive environments. If that operator is constantly being manually pushed, the motor would fail before anything if it were being back driven like most operators. There is also a significant amount of adjustable features in the controller, many of which are not standard in other units. This allows it to be installed, and adjusted for specific environments. The unit is for applications where additional assistance is occasionally needed, but the environment doesn’t expect the unit to perform like a typical operator.

Benchmark – This is our lower abuse operator that has a number of adjustable features, but is not designed for all applications. This falls in price below our senior swing, because it does not have the robustness of the senior swing unit. This unit is not suited for highly abusive environments, but is priced for customers that require ADA code compliance, and still need it to be specifically programmable and have a number of features and options. It’s ideally suited for mostly automatic operation, but as long as it’s not a public school, or cross corridor at a hospital, then it can be used manually as well.

Falcon – this is our least elaborate operator that basically is our “out of the box” solution. Not overly programmable, single size, finish, less parts, easy to understand and install. It can be used in the same abuse applications as the Benchmark, but doesn’t quite have the same interface. This is our lowest cost unit because some of its limited features prevents it from being used in all applications.

To read additional Ledger articles on low energy door operators, visit Web Site: www. tinyurl.com/ tinyurl.com/door0410