Industry Professional

A Demand in Turnstiles

Making sure lobby staff, security team are more efficient

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 and efficient.

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.

Alphabet Soup

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 type products.
  • 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.

Architectural Concerns

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. 10mm, 3/8”).

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.

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