When it comes to convenience and functionality, automatic doors score big with shoppers and chain retailers alike. In a recent consumer research study by The American Association of Automatic Door Manufacturers (AAADM), of those consumers expressing a preference, 98.9% preferred automatic to manual doors. The primary reason for the preference: ease of access.
But not all doors are created equal. Proper selection, installation and maintenance are critical to the safety and long-term performance of automatic doors, particularly in high-traffic retail settings. With that in mind, here are some suggestions from the AAADM:
Selection: There are a variety of factors to consider when selecting an automatic door, including the type and number of users expected to enter and exit the store on a regular basis, desired traffic flow, building layout, required door-opening size and aesthetic preferences.
There are three main types of automatic doors: sliding, automatic and folding. Automatic sliding doors enable efficient two-way traffic through a single door. Space is a consideration with these types of doors, since they require an adequate amount of room in which the door can slide.
With automated swinging doors, two doors are required to allow two-way traffic. One door swings inward and the other swings outward.
Bi-folding doors require minimal space to install, while still providing a sufficient amount of clear door space. This space-conserving benefit makes folding doors a popular choice for retail locations where space is limited.
Aesthetics also come into play when selecting an automatic door. A variety of different finishes are available, including painted, cladded, anodized aluminum, stainless steel, brass and powder-coated.
Regardless of door type, the automatic door systems should be designed so that traffic approaches the door in full view and users walk directly toward it. It’s important that pedestrians have excellent visibility of the door and its “automatic” markings. Vending machines and other distracting obstacles should not be positioned within 4 ft. of the moving door.Safety Is Key
Daily checks are critical to ensuring the safe operation of automatic doors in the retail environment. Such inspections can help keep automatic doors problem-free, and allow corrective action to be taken before a malfunction occurs.
AAADM provides a video presentation on daily safety-check procedures that can be used to train or retrain employees to perform daily safety checks correctly. Printed material is also available from the association (
Installation: Different doors have different installation considerations. In all cases, however, qualified technicians with AAADM certification should install automatic doors.
Every application has its own unique set of conditions and considerations based on the expected setting. Christopher Johnson, executive director, AAADM, Cleveland, advised that “It’s important that retailers work with an established and reputable manufacturer who has a complete understanding of the layout, traffic patterns and users of your retail facility.”
Compliance: Regardless of the type of door that is used, the door system should comply with ANSI/BHMA A156.10, the American National Standard for Power Operated Pedestrian Doors. AAADM members comply with this standard, and AAADM Certified Inspectors can verify that an installation is in compliance. A list of the association’s members is available at
Planned maintenance: Planned maintenance is a crucial component to safety. Work with the manufacturer to choose a program that is right for the location. When selecting a planned-maintenance program, consider the number of automatic doors in the facility, the age of the doors and customer traffic. Most manufacturers offer a variety of planned-maintenance programs.
In addition, a portion of the responsibility for automatic-door safety lies with building owners and operators.
“An individual or individuals at the facility should be charged with performing brief daily safety checks of each door at a designated time each day,” Johnson added. “Safety checks should also be performed following power outages or any other time power to the door has been shut off.”