DORMA products standing the test of time and heavy use.

DORMA products standing the test of time and heavy use.

When specifying and supplying products to any project, life cycle costs are an increasingly important consideration. This is especially the case for doors and their hardware which is one of the most heavily used parts of any building. Research has shown that where these items accounted for less than 1% of a building’s initial cost, they accounted for 80% of maintenance costs. So it is important to look not just at the initial price of a product, but also the full life costs of a product. Incorrectly specified or cheaper products can incur unnecessary expense and may fail in the long term, therefore choosing the correct product is crucial.

With initiatives such as BSF and PFI driving the need for careful consideration of product section, many manufacturers have turned their attention to creating products that meet the requirements of longevity. However, for some manufacturers there is more to it than aiming to achieve long term performance - quality is an inherent attribute and good design, precision engineering and first rate manufacturing along with a proven track record offer more substantiation than claims of longevity.

As a world leader in door controls, automatics, glass and moveable walls, DORMA has a proven track record spanning over 100 years and has featured on thousands of projects. Specified over 20 years ago the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital stands as a shining example of how correct specification and quality products can provide true best value – especially in an environment as challenging as a major hospital.

In 1974, the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital moved to a new purpose built facility on the Heavitree cricket field at Wonford, Exeter. Plans were drawn up by the South West Regional Health Authority Architects to build a new low-level hospital at a cost of £40 million. It was the desire of the architects to specify DORMA door closers throughout the new project. However before proceeding they contacted the Exeter Area Health Authority, predecessor to the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, to obtain their view on door closers - a sensible approach in that they were the client and would be responsible for the building once completed.

The Exeter Health Authority had been using DORMA products for a number of years and was pleased with their reliability and performance. With architect and client of the same mind as to performance and value for money, DORMA products were specified throughout the new project.

The first phase of the new hospital was completed in 1992, by main contractor Costain Construction, with the DORMA products supplied via Parker, Winder and Achurch. The specification included DORMA TS83 EN2-6 Delayed Action and Backcheck overhead door closers,TS73EMF Electro-magnetic Hold Open Closers and BTS80EMB Electro-magnetic hold open floor springs.

Some 20 years on from their installation, the original DORMA products supplied are continuing to function fully and correctly on the original doors, a testament indeed to the reliability and endurance of DORMA products.

As well as their continued performance, what is truly astonishing is that the products comply with all current Building Regulations and Product Standards. “Despite being supplied in 1991 and there being numerous changes to legislation over the years,” commented Graham Hulland, “the DORMA products still meet the necessary legal requirements. This has meant that there has been no need to replace products to meet the requirements of BS8300 or the Fire Safety Order.”

In fact, all of the products supplied to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital twenty years ago are still being supplied to hospitals being built today. All are CE Marked and Certifire Approved, and they also enable door sets to meet the requirements of ADM and BS8300.

Further testimony to the benefits of the quality of product that is designed for purpose is the entrance to the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital Estates Department. A building significantly older than the main hospital, it features fully operational DORMA TS78 Door Closers – a product that was discontinued in 1983 when the model was replaced by the DORMA TS83!

“These units have served the Estates Department’s main entrance doors for at least 28 years,” commented Graham Hulland, Product Marketing Manager at DORMA UK. “They are still fully operational and are one clear reason why the Exeter Health Authority, and now the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, have continued to recommend DORMA products.”

However, it is not just the door closer mechanisms themselves that have benefited from the correct functioning. Although providing secure and reliable closing, the purpose of the door closers is to also provide ease of access, making life easier for the user and therefore reducing the potential for abuse and damage. It is also critical that fire doors are not abused, because this results in damage to the door and their integrity being compromised which, in the event of a fire, could prove fatal.

By ensuring correct, reliable operation and ease of access the fire doors will not suffer abuse from frustrated users, hence their integrity will be maintained and the expense of having to replace damaged fire doors can be avoided. Replacing fire doors is a very costly exercise especially when compared to the cost of using a quality door closing device over a door closer chosen on price alone.

“The Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital is a great example of a project that has benefited from a well thought out specification complete with a high quality product which is fit for purpose,” continued Graham. “With over 5,000 fire doors in the building it would have been a hugely expensive task if the hospital had been required to refurbish or replace any of the door controls to ensure they met current regulations. The use of DORMA products has resulted in long service and eliminated unnecessary costs.”

With hospitals being one of the most demanding working environments and doors being constantly trafficked and subjected to extreme usage, the benefits of selecting products that are engineered to last and correctly specified are clear to see. Requiring only minimal general maintenance and with no need to upgrade products due to changes in legislation, the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital has benefited from the wise specification of products that offer a true meaning of best value.

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