Your parking lot security system revolves around your entry barriers. Without them, all of your security technology is rendered useless, but choosing the right tools is no easy task. A busy lot can perform tens of thousands of cycles every day, so mechanical strength is everything. In the modern age, you’ll also need the kind of barriers that can function with advanced access technology. Whether you use high tech biometric tools or simple card-based access, your parking barriers must respond to digital input. Urban mobility is always evolving to suit vehicle and payment technology. Electric vehicles and car-sharing schemes demand new levels of automation, so tomorrow’s barriers need as much automation as they can handle. The industry has built a huge range of tools that offer exactly that.
1) Understanding Your Barrier Motor
At its simplest, a barrier keeps nonpaying cars out and paying cars in, but if entry and exit require a permanent supervisor, your business quickly becomes unaffordable. The parking sector responded to that pain point through automated barriers, but that unleashed an entirely new world of challenges. Barriers were too slow to open. Motors overheated too quickly. Barrier technology couldn’t interface with digital tools. Industrial designers have spent the last few years developing tools that could overcome all those problems.
In recent years, access control has evolved to interface with digital technologies, but mechanical strength and reliability still matter. Here are the facts you need to look at when choosing your barrier.
2) Duty Cycle
Every motor has a unique duty cycle. That refers to the number of times it can open without overheating. A motor with a 100% duty cycle responds well to constant usage, so it’s ideal for busy shopping malls and toll gates. Residential lots can often manage with a 70% duty cycle, while quiet parking lots do fine with a rating as low as 40%. You should plan for your busiest traffic requirements or you’ll need to replace your motor every few months.
Your barrier operator can function with hydraulic or electromechanical power. The former is a heavy-duty option that can manage frequent use. It rarely needs maintenance and is efficient enough to prevent tailgating. Hydraulic power is far from perfect, though. Chilly weather can make the oil it relies on thicken, so it isn’t ideal in icy climates. Electromechanical units operate silently but slowly. They’re relatively easy to maintain, but they use more single-phase power than hydraulic alternatives. If you need good traffic flow, electromechanical motors are too slow. The size of your barrier matters here, too. A two-metre beam with a 1.5-second speed needs a powerful operator than a short beam with a 6-second speed.
4)Sensors and Detectors
When you don’t have a human opening and closing your barrier, you need sensors to detect obstacles. Your boom must allow safe passing so that it doesn’t damage the vehicles beneath it. It should also pick up small objects like trailers and motorcycles.
- An anti-crushing sensor reverses your beam upon impact. This technology usually only kicks in after making contact, so it needs photocell backup.
- Photocells are infrared sensors that detect obstacles and raise the boom in response. Motion sensors can also be set up to raise the boom only when the gate has been closed.
- Loop detectors use an inductive loop to open when a car enters their magnetic field. This technology can recognise specific vehicles, so it achieves total automation.
- Ultrasonic sensors are easy to install and can be synchronised.
- If you’re using a network to track traffic volumes and parking space, you’ll need IoT sensors that can identify cars and record payments.
No matter how reliable your detectors are, it’s best to use a boom breakaway mechanism that forces your barrier arm to swing back after impact. Rubber dampers and movable housing go a long way towards protecting the cars you profit from.
You probably haven’t given much thought to the shape and size of your barrier, but its parameters are more important than you might think. If you work with delivery vehicles, your arm needs to be long enough to handle oversized trucks. You’ll also need arm articulation to alter the vehicle height you can serve. Some barriers include metal fencing to reduce clearance while closed. Aesthetics count, too. Your entryway is a part of your brand identity, and your architect will die a thousand deaths if you ruin it with an ugly boom gate system. Yellow and red might be standard colours, but there are ways to work with that palette elegantly. Use them.
6) Lockable Housing
You wouldn’t install a door without a lock, and you shouldn’t install a car park barrier system without a locking top. If car thieves can gain access to your internal mechanics, they’ll have no trouble emptying your lot of stolen vehicles, so a thick deadbolt is as important to your lot’s security as the barrier itself. Look for lidded sleeves built from tough materials like carbon steel.
7) Additional Mechanical Security
Spike barriers and bollards can bolster your barrier security “team.” Add surface spikes, and tailgating instantly becomes a thing of the past. If your neighbourhood is a target for ongoing vehicle theft, a single-direction product can control traffic flow by puncturing tires when a car approaches from the wrong direction. In two-way configurations, hydraulic bollards can add anti-ram technology to your set up. This brings you high-level safety designed for security establishments and military installations. Loop detectors and remotes can both be used to retract your bollards, so you can add manned support at any time.
The barrier gate market is vast enough to baffle even the most decisive professionals, so keep it simple. It’ll be easier to zoom in on your ideal technology when you understand your needs and application scenario. Few people grasp those areas better than your own security team, so use their knowledge to guide your choices. They’ll thank you for it in the long run, and so will your clients.