Automatic vehicle gates are commonly used to control access into and out of secured areas. Depending on construction, some may also be used to control pedestrian access and egress as well. Guards may manually control access during peak hours.
These vehicle access systems have both residential and commercial applications. Larger homes and gated communities such as custom home parks, apartment and condominium complexes are examples of residential applications. Parking lots (both fee and free based), commercial plants, large business campuses, airports, truck yards, storage facilities, governmental entities, military locations, etc. are business and commercial examples.
There are really two basic components of an automated vehicle gate system. These are:
- The gate, or physical barrier, which blocks access or egress. Gates may be constructed from iron, wood, chain link, etc. Some even protect against ramming by vehicles as a counter-terrorism means.
- The gate operator which moves the gate into and out of its position thus either blocking movement or allowing the vehicles to continue through. Most of ECI installed gate operators are electrically powered and hydraulically driven.
Additionally vehicle sensors, activation equipment, credentials and readers, access control software systems, etc., may be integral to the operation, control and management.
Barrier gates are meant to grant or deny vehicular access to a restricted area or to stop vehicles and collect tolls. They are not normally meant to stop a vehicle in motion unless they are manufactured to anti-ram specifications. People can easily cross around and even under or over.
You mostly see barrier gates used in traffic control and parking applications such as toll booths, parking garages (as pictured to the left) and parking lots, although they are also used in other areas. The barrier gate and operator are usually combined into one unit.
A barrier arm usually extends across the lane and rotates from its closed horizontal blocking position to a near vertical, even 90 degrees, to open the pathway for a vehicle. The barrier gate arm is breakaway to minimize damage and may be equipped with a manual kill switch to stop it in case of failure or emergency. The gate operator can be equipped with a UPS (universal power supply) backup and some are even solar powered. Another option includes lights.
The operation may be entirely automated or controlled by a person in attendance or remotely via intercom and closed circuit television.
Generally slide gates are installed inside of a fenced in area, parallel to the fence. They function as a barrier by moving back and forth across the opening access. Typically slide gates are installed at the primary facility entrance but they are frequently used to segregate areas from each other.
Slide gates are often heavy and may ride along a metal track in the ground or slide on rollers or wheels either from left to right or from right to left. Others may cantilever or telescope out.
Chains are used frequently to control movement back and forth. We must consider weather (i.e. water, snow, ice, etc.) and physical conditions in designing their usage.
A sally port is a typical slide gate application. In 2017 ECI installed a sally port at Midway Airport in Chicago. Two slide gates limit vehicular direct access onto a runways. Initially the car or truck must pass through the first slide gate. After a security inspection is made, the vehicle can proceed through the second gate.