Automated barrier doors protect employees at shipping facility

High-cycle doors prevent workers from entering the automated storage and retrieval system.

By ·

Virginia-based Rubbermaid Commercial Products (RCP) serves markets worldwide including food services, sanitary maintenance, waste handling, material transport and safety products. In 2012, the company added a state-of-the-art automated shipping facility to its existing Winchester, Va., plant.

A conveyor system and 56 case-pick stations are integrated into the automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS). Case-pick operations are on an elevated mezzanine structure that interfaces with the AS/RS, which deposits full pallets to pick stations. By installing a series of high-speed, high-cycle barrier doors, the company protected workers from fall hazards and moving machinery while maintaining productivity.

The new facility started round-the-clock operations in January 2013, sorting orders for customers worldwide. Three different types of physical barriers were considered to prevent the 1,200 workers in the plant from accidentally entering the AS/RS. An option similar to a parking gate arm was least expensive, but would serve more as a visual reminder than a physical barrier. A guillotine-style safety gate provided a physical barrier, but was not designed to withstand the expected open/close cycles of the application without substantial maintenance and downtime.

The third option was a high-speed, high-cycle barrier door (Frommelt Safety, frommeltsafety.com) with a roll-up design to minimize its footprint. The doors are integrated with the controls of the carton sortation system and are automatically operated by a programmable logic controller (PLC). To prevent injury during closing, the doors feature soft bottom edges and gravity-down operation. To minimize maintenance requirements, the doors were designed to withstand millions of cycles, have a 500 pound-rated, tear-out strength on their retention balls, and contain a fully sealed motor assembly.

“The doors have been in operation for several months and are performing exactly as advertised,” says John Elliott, senior distribution operations engineer for RCP. “The doors have provided a great degree of safety and operator labor efficiency for the application.”


About the Author

Josh Bond, Senior Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.

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