Speedgates are the latest in high tech entrance control turnstile systems, combining the best of optical and physical barrier technology. Speedgates consist of fast acting barriers that open on a valid card scan to leave a clear lane for the authorised person pass through. Once the speedgate has seen the authorised person pass through, it closes the barrier behind them to secure the lane again.
The fast acting barriers are obvious physical deterrents and the state of the art optical technology is designed to detect and deter tailgaters.
Speedgate entrance control systems provide an elegant and contemporary look. Glass barriers keep the business atmosphere open and inviting, and pedestals can be finished in a variety of different materials, making them the ideal choice for the modern building, where an elegant, high-speed, secure entrance control system is required.
Initially speedgates were the domain of the corporate office building. However, recent developments have led to more cost effective solutions and the drop in price has made speedgates more accessible to different applications, such as leisure centres, gyms, data centres and factories.
There are two distinct types of speedgate – retracting barrier and swing barrier. The pros and cons of each option will be covered later in this article but the advantages of speedgates over traditional turnstiles generally hold true for both.
· Greater security
Speedgates come with barriers up to 1800mm high; 1200mm high barriers are considered high enough to deter most jump over attempts, but in totally unmanned areas 1800mm high barriers may be preferred. The glass panels typically go down to within 160mm of the floor level to deter the ‘duck under’ attempts that are relatively easy with tripod turnstiles.
Speedgates offer faster and easier throughput, resulting in less queuing and fewer lanes are required. Throughput rates can get up to one person per second which is two to three times as fast as more traditional entrance control solutions. In addition, the glass barriers open automatically to leave a clear lane with no barriers to push through or catch yourself on, which is a real benefit for users carrying a sports bag, briefcase or coat.
· Disabilities Discrimination Act (DDA) compliance
It used to be necessary to provide an additional swing gate for wheelchair users but this gate was a security risk as, once it was open, anyone could walk through. Experience shows that once a wheelchair access swing gate is open, people flood through with no control. From a security or revenue-protection perspective, swing gate use should be limited and supervised. This adds costs and restricts disabled access.
Speedgates can be set up with wide lanes for DDA compliance and these lanes can be used by anyone. There is no need for special supervision as the sensors automatically monitor who is in the lane and close the barrier once that person has entered, thereby stopping other people ‘tailgating’ through.
· Emergency egress
Speedgates are designed to integrate with a building’s fire alarm system and in the event of an alarm, the barriers open automatically in the exit direction allowing a clear, unrestricted exit route.
Traditional turnstiles do not do this but are instead set up so the barriers free spin in an emergency. This means that while they can be pushed through, they still present a barrier to the escape route and can be a hazard in an emergency.
Most building owners want to move away from mechanical turnstiles that create a ‘prison-like’ atmosphere within the reception areas of their buildings, while architects have traditionally been concerned that security equipment can detract from a building’s visual appeal. Fortunately, speedgates offer the flexibility to blend their design in to the fabric of the building through the use of complimentary cladding materials.
Speedgates provide a more open look and the use of stainless steel and glass make it easy to incorporate the systems into most building designs. They can be clad in wood and Corian, as well as in different metal and paint finishes.
Which type of speedgate?
There are two distinct types of speedgate: the traditional retracting barrier design and the more recent swing barrier design.
Retracting barrier speedgates
With a retracting barrier speedgate the barrier retracts inside the pedestal once a person has been authorised to proceed.
The barrier area the person passes through is very small, so the retracting barrier speedgate closes very quickly behind them.
As the barrier is retracted inside the pedestal, the pedestal needs to be wide enough to hide the glass. If a standard lane width is 600mm, each glass panel will typically be 275mm wide, so the pedestal will need to be at least 300mm wide to house the panel.
To comply with the DDA, at least one lane at 900mm wide will be required. Each glass panel for this will need to be about 450mm, which typically makes the pedestal 500mm wide. This means the pedestals need to be quite big and bulky, especially when you consider the typical length of a speedgate is 1500 to 2000mm.
Speedgates use elliptical designs to minimise the pedestal footprint, but they will still take up a lot of floor space. Additionally, if you have a combination of standard lanes and wide lanes you will end up with a combination of 300mm and 500mm wide pedestals, which can create an unbalanced look.
Swing barrier speedgates
With swing barrier speedgates the barrier swings down the length of the pedestal once a person has been authorised.
As the barrier swings down the length of the pedestal - as opposed to retracting inside it - the barrier size has no bearing on the width of the pedestal. At 200mm wide, pedestal widths for swing barrier speedgates are significantly less than retracting barrier speedgates. As the barrier length has no impact on the pedestal width, all pedestals (both standard width and wide lanes for DDA compliance) can be the same width, making installation of a combination of standard width and wide lane look more balanced, with the pedestal presence much more discrete.
Another benefit of the swing barrier speedgate is that the barriers swing away from the authorised users, this means the lane opens up as the user walks through, enabling a much shorter pedestal. The minimum length for this type of speedgate typically starts at 1000mm.
Many of the advantages of swing barrier speedgates over retracting barrier speedgates are aesthetic. Swing barrier speedgates feature the option for an open sided pedestal design, making the whole installation look more airy and creating less of an impact on the overall building design.
Swing barrier speedgates can be configured with either a single or twin barrier per standard lane. The use of a single barrier in a lane can provide significant cost savings, especially in multi-lane scenarios.
It is also worth noting that many people find the swing barrier motion more user-friendly. The ‘door-like’ action is more familiar, whereas the retracting barrier motion can be intimidating as the barrier appears to pop out more aggressively.
The biggest disadvantage of the swing barrier speedgate is in the length of its barrier. The longer the barrier, the longer it will take an authorised user to clear the barrier zone, which means the lane is open to tailgaters for a fraction longer than retracting barrier speedgates.
Apart from deciding between a swing or retracting barrier design speedgate, the other major consideration is the height of the barrier.
Both speedgate designs typically come in a waist-height ‘angel wing’ barrier design or a pedestal design that suits a taller (1200m to 1800mm high) barrier to deter jump attempts.
Typically, a waist-height barrier is common for a manned reception area of a leisure application, whereas a 1200mm high barrier is more usual for a corporate manned reception area. Where an entry point is unmanned, a barrier height of 1600 to 1800mm is recommended.
It is worth noting that the taller the barrier, the heavier it is and the slower it will move. A waist-height, standard-width lane can open in less than half a second, whereas an 1800mm high, wide-lane barrier can take one second or more.
Speedgates offer many advantages over traditional turnstiles and the price gap between them has decreased. By assessing the security risk, working out throughput rates, and identifying available space, the right speedgate can be matched to building requirements.
The initial cost should not be the only concern. An entrance control system will be in place for between five and ten years so the cost should be repaid over that period. Consideration should also be given to cost savings, efficiency gains and the positive impact on the impression of employees and customers that use the building.