Automated Gate Safety
In an era not too long ago, siblings were engaged in fiery arguments in the backseat – arguments that bordered on full-on combat – about a very important issue of the day: Who was going to open the gate when they arrived home? The hapless father would grip the steering wheel tighter, his knuckles whitening around it and beads of perspiration already forming on his forehead in anticipation of the skirmish that would no-doubt erupt when they eventually pulled up to the driveway.
Gate automation changed all that. Nowadays, opening your entrance gate is as simple as pressing a button on a remote - and brothers and sisters once again live in harmony. Modern access control has put at our disposal a world of convenience, an exciting universe where everything around us can be set in motion at the press of a button. We are firmly in control of our surroundings.
However, as with any automated system, safety is paramount when it comes to automating your entrance gate. Centurion Systems, a leading South African manufacturer of gate automation and access control equipment, shares some guidelines for a safe installation.
Many modern gate operators make use of a current spike to stop the gate in the correct opening and closing positions. In other words, when the operators is commencing the limit setup procedure, encountering an obstruction will induce a current spike which tells the controller that this is where it must henceforth stop the gate. If no mechanical endstops are installed, no spike will be read and the gate will just keep on running and could potentially come off its rail – with disastrous consequences.
Endstops should be fitted in both the opening and closing positions, should be constructed from a robust material such as steel, and must remain fixed even when considerable force is applied to them. It is therefore advisable to weld them in place.
Guide-rollers are at least as important as endstops, as these devices are what quite literally keep your gate on the straight and narrow. Without guide-rollers, your gate would wobble drunkenly from side to side and eventually come crashing down like a felled animal. It doesn’t take a giant stretch of the imagination to envisage the damage to property or injury to person that would result from such an incident.
Always have a qualified electrician attend to any high-voltage (higher than 50V) electrical needs that may arise from installing a gate operator. Depending on where you live, you may also be required to fit an isolator within arm’s reach of the operator.
Take care not to short out battery terminals, and ensure that all electrical equipment is sufficiently earthed, as this will help prevent damage to the devices as well as electrical shock.
Any gate motor worth its salt will have adjustable sensitivity settings. While it is at times desirable to have a lower setting to compensate for environmental changes such as wind loading (applies more to swing gates) or variations in the track, it is important to remember that the lower the setting, the harder it will be to stop the gate.
Prevent Unauthorised Access
Kids (and some adults) are curious. That is a simple fact of life. But curiosity can quickly turn to tragedy if proper care isn’t exercised when it comes to securing gate motor controls. Ensure that only authorised adults have access to the controls. Operator covers should at all times be locked in place and the keys kept in a safe location.
Keep the Area of Travel Clear!
This is arguably the most important guideline of all.
No matter how cautious one purports to be, no matter how vigilant, accidents do happen. Therefore the best course of action is, before attempting to operate an automated gate, to first ensure that no children or pets are in the vicinity. A Courtesy Light can also be installed to provide visual indication prior to and during gate travel.