Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Safety Issues with The Sliding Door Company's Bottom Tracks

You have a successful closet door.  Why not use it everywhere?  That's the logic behind The Sliding Door Company's use of bottom track systems in traffic areas.  

It's one thing to have a track at the bottom of a closet - and something completely different when people in a business have to negotiate a track on a daily basis.  There is a significant KNOWN hazard for ladies wearing high heels.  It has been reported to The Sliding Door Company but they would rather deal with this issue on a complaint-by-complaint basis.

Let's see what I'm talking about...

This system has three tracks on the left and four tracks on the right.
The picture to the right depicts a conference room with Sliding Door Company bottom tracks installed.  This isn't the worst case scenario, but it demonstrates the problem.

TSDC's own employees have experienced having high heels stick in these tracks.  The picture below is of TSDC's corporate offices.

Do gaps like this make sense in a business environment?

Notice the gaps in the tracks? Does this make sense in a business environment? 

Again, great idea for closets, but perhaps not a great choice for the workplace.

TSDC's "patented" "wheel-to-track"
mechanism hooks under the track.

At the right is a close-up picture of their track.  TSDC's "patented" "Wheel-to-track" mechanism hooks under the track.  This is why there are large gaps in TSDC's tracks that are not likely to be found in the tracks of competitive products.  This "selling feature" came at the price of customer safety.  Yet, they show this exact picture on their blog with the caption "Safety".  

So let's get technical and have a look at The Sliding Door Company's tracks.  I have downloaded a picture from their "Pro Tools" page which depicts their system configurations.

Here we see a SIX track configuration.  This shows a 10-inch piece of track that someone with high heels must step over to avoid possible injury (or damage to expensive shoes - something else that has been reported to TSDC by clients).  Does that seem reasonable in a commercial office, hospitality or retail space?  While the gap isn't dimensioned on this picture, you can get an idea of the size of the gap by looking at the "ADA" ramp dimension of 9/16".

How much pressure is on a high heel pressing into the track?  About 1500 psi.  Now look carefully at the configuration of the track above.  See the little hook that the sliding door rides on?  That works like a spring to capture a high heel.  A high heel pushing into the gap with THAT much pressure actually forces itself into the gap by very slightly displacing the hook which then captures the heel as the pressure is released when the person continues to take their step.  (Keep in mind, this is soft, um... I mean, "proprietary" aluminum).

And why are TSDC's tracks different from tracks from other door suppliers (who don't have this problem)?  The Sliding Door Company has a "patented" "wheel-to-track" system which they advertise.  This means they capture the hook to prevent their doors from coming off the tracks.  A better system, of course, would capture the track at the top and then these hazardous tracks would be unnecessary.  But that would require some re-tooling on TSDC's part, not to mention filing for a new patent and that sort of thing eats into profits.

Once again, the best choice is to avoid The Sliding Door Company.  Sure, they have products that don't require a bottom track - but they are quite happy to sell these hazardous bottom-track systems instead, particularly because they don't require the engineering that suspended systems require.

1 comment:

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