ASSA ABLOY PHOTO

ASSA ABLOY installed a revolving door at Atrium Health Union in Monroe before the COVID pandemic.

UNION COUNTY — ASSA ABLOY (ASSA), a manufacturer with three locations in the county, has experienced an increase in demand of their products because of COVID-19.

ASSA designs, builds and installs automatic entrance systems like the sliding doors in grocery stores and revolving doors at hospitals.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, automatic entrances may be the way forward in the future as door handles become antiquated.

Automatic door entrances have been trending upward for several years, but it has grown at a higher rate because of COVID, explains Jeffrey Buennemeyer, president, door solutions.

Noting how people may use their elbows or shoulders to open doors or press buttons on elevators or at crosswalks, Buennemeyer said: “I think in general, people are varying degrees of being germaphobes. I think the heightened awareness of this pandemic, focus on social distancing and washing your hands and hygiene — these things are not likely to go away and in fact most of them are likely to stay permanently.”

He continued: “One of the things that we see in — we’re in the automatic door industry is a market leader in this business — if you wanted customers back into your facility ... you have to adapt how they interact with that facility whether it’s an automatic door or whether it’s an automatic paper towel dispenser, automatic soap dispenser… and the most important thing whether it’s employees or customers is you want them to feel comfortable and confident coming into that facility.”

Buennemeyer said most of ASSA’s sales have been returning customers who are installing scanners next to entrances so people can scan badges or cards at the door to enter a facility. He explained that the industry was in short supply at the beginning of the pandemic and had to “ramp up” production.

About 25% of ASSA’s customers are healthcare facilities — especially Intensive Care Units in New England where cases surged the most at the beginning of the pandemic, Buennemeyer said.

Because the demand for automatic entrances in ICUs was great, but the time it took to build an entrance took 4 to 6 weeks, ASSA created quick-turn doors for ICUs. If a hospital in New York put in an order on a Friday, ASSA would have an entrance installed by the following week, Buennemeyer shared.

Another item that became popular during the pandemic is to place an electronic device above a manual door that senses a person approaching the entrance and opens automatically which is a cheaper option and is easy to install. He said ASSA has seen an increase between 20 to 45% in production.

Sliding doors are the third most popular item at ASSA.