Revolving Security

Revolving Security

An access control and security solution that’s a real head turner

After revolving doors emerged on the architectural scene in the late 19th century, they were very much in vogue and favored as a way to provide building access stylishly. The basic design of a revolving door typically involves two, three or four panels that hang on a central shaft and rotate around a vertical axis within a drum (a cylindrical enclosure).

In automatic revolving doors, motor gear drive assemblies control door speeds and electronic sensors are key to operational integrity. While revolving doors continue to be a favorite of architects and designers for enhancing a building’s contemporary, or even futuristic, aura, revolving doors made specifically for security purposes provide something arguably of far greater value: peace of mind.


With security concerns more top of mind than ever, preventing unauthorized access has never been more imperative.

The challenges of protecting staff and visitors has given companies and property owners in both the public and private sectors good reason to seek access solutions that effectively restrict and keep tabs on entry and exit.

Security revolving doors have become prevalent wherever there’s a need to control and monitor who goes in and out of a facility or restricted area of a facility. Financial institutions, manufacturing companies, hospitals, airports, anywhere you need to track individuals’ ingress and egress, security revolving doors make a viable solution.

While sliding and swing doors with access control offer some degree of security, they don’t stop multiple people from passing through the door with the authorized person. The same goes for standard revolving doors; you can put a lock on them for some element of security (always check with the manufacturer before doing so), but they don’t otherwise restrict access to the degree that a revolving door specifically made for security purposes does.

Security revolving doors that require authorization of credentials and that have sensors detecting ingress and egress, on the other hand, are far more effective at preventing more than one person from entering or exiting at a time. As they turn just one compartment at a time, revolving security doors close automatically as soon as the authorized person has passed through, allowing only a single person to enter a secured area. They diminish the risks of security breaches via tailgating (when unauthorized individuals attempt entry while an authorized person is entering or exiting) and piggybacking (when an individual attempts fraudulent or forcible entry into the same compartment of the revolving door as an authorized person). For the best two-way access control, security revolving doors with four-wing design work most effectively.

Security revolving doors can come equipped to be locked from a remote location, and they can be integrated with access control systems. Many employee- only entrances/exits implement this access control solution.

Also making it possible to manage traffic flow and access at different hours of the day and night, security revolving doors can function as standard revolvers by day and then require credentials at night. Applications that this accommodates well include office complexes and college dormitories.

In airport security zones and other areas where access needs to be highly controlled, security revolving doors can keep people from re-entering areas through which they’ve already passed, while enabling crowds and luggage to exit with ease. They serve as an effective physical barrier when moving airport staff and travelers from the secure side of the facility to the non-secure side after people arrive at their destinations. These one-way revolving doors often have a threewing design, allowing people to exit the airport through one-way egress. In recent years, additional security measures have become a norm at some airport authorities. Volumetric sensors and curtains installed in the same area help prevent objects from being pushed or thrown through the revolving door to the secured side of the facility. Other scenarios exist, like museum exhibits and courthouses that are also well suited for one-way security revolving doors.

Security revolving doors in manufacturing plants and other facilities demanding a high level of onsite access can help achieve complete perimeter access control when the doors, credentialing devices (like card readers, thumb print or iris scans, or biometric readers), and sensor barriers integrate with a wide access control system.

For added protection when a building isn’t open for business, many manufacturers offer various night locking mechanisms to secure door wings in their resting position and night sliding doors that close over the opening of the revolving door. Doors can also be ordered with bullet-resistant or vandalresistant glass as additional security and safety measures.


Revolving doors, as a rule, must meet ANSI 156.27 standards, ensuring they won’t rotate too quickly and jeopardize the safety of the pedestrians passing through them. The ANSI code requirements set maximum RPM allowances for two-, three-, and four-wing automatic revolving doors to ensure safe use.

ANSI also requires presence detection sensors for automatic doors that can slow or stop the door when objects or people are in very close proximity to it. Entry-point sensors help to prevent entrapment at the intersection of the rotating wing and the approaching drum wall. Also, a contact safety edge helps detect obstructions and immediately halts the door’s rotation. In addition, the wings typically have toe-guard sensors to help prevent a user’s heel from getting trapped underneath them. ANSI Code 156.27 requires availability of emergency buttons, as well, that will stop power to the door. Note that in situations involving industrial or trained traffic and in custom installations, the ANSI standard does not apply.


Numerous studies have found revolving doors to significantly save energy and reduce heating and cooling costs. In fact, they can be as much as eight times more energy efficient as hinged doors. Access controlled revolving doors, like other revolving doors, provide an airlock that helps maintain a building’s preferred climate. By separating the indoor and outdoor environments, these revolving doors help control heating and cooling costs. This solution also helps reduce noise and other exterior distractions.

Because revolving doors can provide a high level of security to unmanned entrances, they can also help reduce security personnel costs by offering access control without adding staff. That’s a huge advantage when considering the expense of employee wages and benefits.


As you determine what features and functionality a security revolving door will need for a particular application, keep these key considerations in mind:

  • What architectural requirements do you need to consider?
  • What capacity will be needed for the entrance?
  • How many door wings will be ideal for meeting the needs of the opening?
  • Will the people entering and exiting be trained staff or the public at large?
  • Will night sliding doors be required?
  • Will the door integrate with a comprehensive access control system?
  • What type of credentialing method/ device to confirm authorization will be used?
  • Will the door require remote operation/ control?
  • Will the entrance require bulletproof glass?

As security professionals you face increasingly daunting challenges to ensure the safety and well-being of people coming and going from facilities of all types. If you haven’t explored the effectiveness and versatility of security revolving doors, you might want to give them a turn and take some time to research the styles, brands and options available.

This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of Security Today.

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