A Demand in Turnstiles
Making sure lobby staff, security team are more efficient
- By Mike McGovern
- Sep 01, 2017
Over the past 10 years, there has been a greater
demand for turnstiles and other pedestrian entrance
control devices (PECs). If such products
are part of your short or long term security plan,
you may have wondered where to find some quick
training on turnstile system design.
Why the recent increase in turnstile demand? Some of the reasons
are the aging post-9/11 turnstile systems (15+ years), concerns over
violence and terrorism, and tenants’ expectation of secure entrances
in property management buildings.
Turnstiles and PECs
Turnstiles control who is getting in. They are a hardware device tied
with your access control system, which helps ensure only one passage
per authorized person. Most times the access control integration is
via dry contacts but some systems allow for software-level integration.
Turnstiles ensure that the lobby staff/security team more effective
Typically any secure building or campus having a minimum of
500 authorized occupants, and where every credential (access card
or biometric) is currently checked by an access control reader and/or
monitored by an officer or lobby staff person, is an excellent prospect
for automated PEC. A secure facility has an interest in controlling
access to authorized persons, and manpower is currently employed
to that end.
Some of the most common types of turnstiles are mechanical tripod
waist high turnstiles, full height turnstiles, pure optical and barrier
type optical turnstiles, security portals (mantraps), and security
revolving doors. Speedlanes or Smartlanes are the next-generation
optical turnstiles and may include swinging or retracting (sliding)
glass or other physical barriers to further discourage unauthorized
access attempts. Advantages are greater security, and less monitoring.
Industries and Applications
Some of the more common applications are in healthcare, transportation,
educational, entertainment, pharmaceutical, financial and
energy company corporate offices, large downtown property management
buildings, headquarters and administrative offices of practically
every type of company. Some of the common factors across
these applications are regulatory environment, storage of sensitive
customer data, threats of domestic or workplace violence or terrorism,
close proximity or sharing of secure space with public space as
in a busy multi-use downtown office building.
End users most often ask how many lanes should be in the design.
Integrators, architects and others can help with the details about
throughput optimization, shift staggering, visitor policy, break area
locations, and card and biometric reader types.
End users typically need a minimum of two lanes for each entrance,
assuming space available. One lane would be ADA compatible
in most cases. Is the space limited in terms of width and depth? In
some cases you can accommodate for the lack of real estate by using
slim cabinet type (slim lanes) in your design.
There is a lot of talk about ratings and certifications for electronic security
products, such terms as UL, IP and MCBF. What do they mean?
- UL (Underwriters Laboratory) certification. Turnstiles and related
systems are certified to other UL325 or the more specific
UL2593. Both are considered as standards for turnstiles and gate
- IP network ready allows for immediate real-time or future tie in
with company networks and information systems.
- Mean Cycles Between Failure (MCBF). The manufacturer’s confidence
in their MCBF is demonstrated by their warranty, such as
a 5 year warranty.
National and local regulations must be considered. ADA regulations,
the International Building Code (IBC) and fire emergency
egress codes like NFPA 101 & 72, will impact system design. Local
AHJ’s may have their own interpretation. At the very minimum, all
lanes must provide easy egress without prior knowledge, and oftentimes
alternative exists must be available beside the turnstiles.
Security Policy and Corporate Culture
These variables play a strong role in the system configuration, layout
and options. An end user should consider a policy for double swiping
of cards, or an anti-passback policy. Also consider the corporate
security culture for denying employees access when their badge has
been left behind accidentally. Prepare corporate security policy about
requiring badges or credentials to be presented for both ingress and
egress (card in/card out). You might want to use cabinet extensions
for enhanced detection in a high security application.
Extended Post (EP) turnstile cabinets may be used if management
calls for other peripherals to be integrated, such as elevator destination
dispatch screens or other corporate messaging screens. Many
times the balance between corporate cultures versus security policy
also affects the selection of type and size of glass barriers that will be
used in the design.
Consider building historical commission restrictions when planning
an install. Is an architect employed or retained by the firm who
might have input into your decisions. Your turnstile or PEC may need
to blend with existing or planned features nearby, such as custom
bronze, brass or other metal finishes, marble or other natural stone
tops on your turnstiles. Special turnstile cabinet/pedestal designs for
biometric readers (fingerprint or facial), visitor bar code readers,
Bluetooth or cell phone NFC readers may be integrated into turnstile
cabinets and this should be accounted for in your design. Architects
may have guidelines about stainless steel construction (i.e. 16 gauge
AISI 304) and prohibiting the use of acrylic or polymer “faux glass”
barriers in place of real tempered glass of a minimum thickness (i.e.
The sooner you start designing your system, the less it will likely
cost. The project timeline can influence product selection, especially
for special finishes and corporate branding. Lead times for turnstiles
and PECs can range from eight to 18 weeks, in many cases.
Lobby security staff costs will certainly be expected to decrease
as the result of this new entrance control system. If that dollar value
can be estimated then it is quite easy to calculate a ROI or a payback
period for the new investment, in order to please management.
This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of Security Today.