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Access getting easier

Author : Tim Fryer

31 October 2012

Access control remains the first and most obvious subject when looking at security, or even simply how to get people safely in and out of a building. Tim Fryer takes a look at a few recent projects and products in this diverse field.

The first project was once an impenetrable ring of masonry and earthworks, designed to protect Britain’s premier naval dockyard in Portsmouth. Now Fort Nelson is open to all visitors and features a range of easily accessible automatic entrances.

The glass entrances have been installed as part of a £3.5m redevelopment of the impressive Royal Armouries Museum, which features interactive displays and iconic exhibits as well as a discreet purpose-built visitor centre that is submerged in the ground and covered in grass.

Improving the ancient monument’s accessibility was a key part of this transformation, so GEZE UK installed two circular glass entrances to the visitor centre to reflect the round nature of the new building and the hill fort itself, before installing an unusual glass lobby within the original building’s ancient arched entrance.

At the state of the art visitor centre, sustainability and access were important, but the design also needed to suit the subterranean nature of the building. As well as complementing the shape of the new building, the two circular entrances featuring Slimdrive SCRs (the 360° drive solution for circular sliding doors), were chosen because they provide a feeling of light and space, maximising the available light within the centre. Suitable for high footfall, the 360o door systems also create a wide space to allow easy access and act as a draft lobby with an integral air curtain, preventing heat loss and gain.

As part of the refurbishment within the older building, GEZE UK specified and installed a bespoke entrance comprising a bi-parting Slimdrive SL sliding door operator, with an energy-efficient Slimdrive SC drive behind it, creating a small but accessible lobby area in a confined space beneath an archway.

All the operators installed at Fort Nelson are part of GEZE UK’s Slimdrive range, which means they are just 7cm high and can be mounted discreetly. They have also been designed and tested to meet the requirements of all relevant standards and regulations, including Building Bulletin 93, Approved Documents B and M, as well as assisting with the demands of the Equality Act.

Fort operations manager Nigel Hosier said: “Since the refurbishment, our visitor numbers have jumped by 54 per cent. In fact, a total of 20,128 people have passed through these doors during April, May and June, which shows that we’ve succeeded in creating a state-of-the-art visitor attraction. As a Scheduled Ancient Monument, Fort Nelson was not originally designed for visitors with special access requirements, so it was important to install automatic doors that were not just functional, but that also seamlessly merged with the surrounding area and buildings so as to not spoil the atmosphere of this historic place.”

GEZE UK’s operations director Simon Bowden added: “Fort Nelson is a unique reminder of Britain’s past and it was important to us that we helped preserve its character and ambience, as well as making the site and its exhibits accessible for as many people as possible. This isn’t just about making sure it’s wheelchair friendly; it’s important that visitor attractions like this are family friendly too.”

Fire Barrier
Moving away from the aesthetic requirements of a visitor centre, a fire training centre in Scotland need practicality and reliability.

Having pioneered the introduction of 24V hydraulic gate automation, FAAC has now introduced its first 24V barrier to the market and one of the firt applications is a 8m beam at the Strathclyde Fire Training Centre.

Facilities manager at the training centre, Graham Burnett, explained that two B680H barriers were installed at the newly built Fire Training Centre and have worked very efficiently since they took possession of the site in April 2012. A battery backup has been installed to ensure the operation of the B680H even during a power cut, something that is extremely important to the fire service

The B680H controls passages with a net width from 2m to 8m and its modular beams make it a product that is easy to manage during installation. The barrier is rated for continuous duty operating beams of 8m in 6 seconds and beams of 2m in 1.5 seconds. Accessories for the barrier include an integrated red/green LED unit on top of the cabinet that flashes during operation and LED beam lights create a highly visible and safe operating environment.

Smart in class
Construction site security has always tended to focus on what's required to keep unwanted intruders locked out. However, sophisiticated access control equipment now has an equally important secondary function, accurately reporting on the movements and activities of those personnel that are authorised to be on site.

Graeme Oliver, director at Rutledge Integrated Systems (RIS) which designs bespoke CCTV and access control security for construction sites of all sizes, believes that on today's sites, access control is as much a management tool as a security system.

"Biometric fingerprint recognition will typically be used to verify a person's identity and authorisation, eliminating the costly practice of 'buddy punching' or ghost workers, where workmates are clocked in or out by colleagues if they arrive late or leave early. In the event of an emergency, the system will also enable a real time muster report of precisely who is on site.

"But over and above the accurate log of exactly who is working where on a site and when, and helping to calculate labour costs, it is the computer records of all biometric recognition events that provides the real management value."

Using an RIS SMARTSITE system, for example, all employees or contractors are 'inducted' on to the site's software system and asked to submit information such as their distance travelled to and from work, shared vehicle use, fuel type and even MPG details. This information can then be used to accurately calculate reports of CO2 emissions, assisting with a site's BREEAM rating and helping to reduce the project's overall carbon footprint.

With environmental credentials an important consideration for any business, and particulary some of the high profile commercial organisations involved in major new-build developments, any reporting tool that can effectively demonstrate a construction site is working to reduce its carbon footprint is to be welcomed.

The system can also alert to CSCS and CPCS expiry dates, further helping to improve the site's health and safety policy adherence.

One site which is benefitting from the SMARTSITE system is Wade Deacon High School, a technology, mathematics and computing specialist college and training college in Widnes, Cheshire. Here, VINCI Construction is managing a BSF building programme that involves the construction of a new 500 seat auditorium, six court sports hall and enhanced specialist teaching facilities, all within one new school building.

With both VINCI and its client, Halton Borough Council, very keen to keep track of carbon emissions, the environmental reporting tool has been particularly useful. With journey to and from work details inputted for every site employee and contractor, the SMARTSITE software calculates the carbon emissions in easy to use spreadsheet format and produces monthly reports keeping both contractor and local authority informed.

Jayne Byrne, VINCI Construction's site secretary at Wade Deacon commented: "The system is very straightforward to use but provides valuable information on the ongoing status of the site's carbon footprint which is, of course, an important environmental consideration on this BSF building programme."

Under lock and key
FMs increasingly look to their suppliers to produce more innovative solutions, which save time and money whilst maintaining or improving services. This is as true in access control as in any other discipline and Richard Thompson of Yale, describes what his company is doing to reduce callouts, maintain estate security and keep door set replacement to an absolute minimum.

“Currently, business crime and internal criminal activity is at its highest rate, with 64% of businesses reported to have been victims of crime in the last year, a cost of £2,900 for each business. Whilst these are generic trends in any period of recession, in the UK there is another cause of concern with regards to mechanical security. Over the coming months and years, growing numbers of multipoint locks are expected to fail, with over one million expected to require replacement in 2012 alone.

“Until now, if a multipoint lock failed, Facilities Managers would at best have had to spend time and money identifying and sourcing a like-for-like replacement lock. Some replacement multipoint locks were available, but supply chains were unreliable and costly, and there was no ‘one visit, one repair’ solution that ensured like-for-like replacements on demand without having to stock hundreds of product lines. In many instances, due to limited supply of like-for-like replacement locks, Facility Managers would previously have had little choice but to replace whole door sets. On a reactive callout basis, this would prove costly and would often leave a property temporarily unsecure, an unwelcome outcome in any climate.

“The Yale UK team developed the Doormaster range, which comprises of just six replacement locks, to provide a solution that makes life easy for Facility Managers, quickly and efficiently solving their multipoint locking problems. It represents a complete range, divided into three categories to suit different door types, locks and security requirements. The range also includes eight replacement gearboxes, and for emergency installations where temporary door repairs are required, there are seven “overnight” locks that will quickly and economically secure 90% of doors.



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