Door & Gate Operators Opening New Doors To Profit

Swinging door systems involve minimal code issues and are relatively simple to install.


Door and gate operators are an integral access control component that might increase your profits. The demand for new door gate operators and the servicing of existing systems is a growing market. Although a segment of the door operator market involves heavy duty, high power and hydraulics; a...


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The door operator system is a self-contained entity, designed to operate autonomously. The system includes the doors/gates, and the motors to open them, and a controller to which external actuating, access control and safety devices are connected.

The tenants of the Life Safety Code shall always prevail; egress from the premises shall never be impeded, and the door operators shall have integral design features and be provided with additional auxiliary devices which protect the persons using the doors from being injured. The door operator system is supplied power, and connected to trigger any safety devices.

Special attention must be given to openings which utilize both door operators as well as locking hardware. Most door/gate operator systems do not provide physical security. Swinging doors can be manually opened without using the door operator. Sliding gates can be manually opened. Sliding doors can be pulled open, or have an integral breakaway feature which allows for emergency egress by simply pushing on the doors.

Whatever locking arrangements are applied to such openings, you cannot defeat the life safety features built into the openings.

The trigger is typically a momentary switch closure. Once triggered, the door operator goes into its sequence of opening the door, waiting a predefined ‘door opened’ time; them commencing the closing cycle. If a safety sensor connected to the door operator system detects an obstruction in the path of the door(s), the closing is delayed (or inhibited) until the presence sensor signals to the door operator that the obstruction is gone. Most door operators do not monitor trigger inputs while the door is still in the open position. Once the door open time has expired and the doors enter the close cycle, another trigger input will re-initiate the open cycle.

Most door operators are designed so that as long as a trigger signal (dry contact closure) is applied to the door operator system, the door/gate will remain open and the closing sequence will not start until contact closure goes to an open circuit, at which time the door operator counts out the programmed door open time, then enters the closing sequence.

For example, let’s say that the door operator is programmed for a 30-second door open time. The open trigger signal is 2 seconds; it takes the door operator 2 seconds to initiate the door close cycle once the input trigger is removed. Therefore, assuming that the door operator is working properly, and nothing is telling the door operator that there is an obstruction blocking the path of the doors; it will take at least 34 seconds for the door to go from a fully closed position, open, and then return to a fully closed position. The door takes a finite time to physically open and reclose.

For buildings where air conditioning, heating or the security of the occupants are mitigating factors, the door open time may be shortened substantially, provided that the presence and area presence sensors array was properly designed and is judiciously maintained. The baseline door open time is calculated based on three factors:

  1. The distance between the door open trigger and the opening. (This could be a card reader or approach sensor.)
  2. The speed of the doors when opened by the door operators.
  3. The time it will take the typical person using the door to get into the threshold of the door so that the presence sensors can take over the doors’ control and provide safe and convenient passage through the opening.

Typical Door Operator System Components

Activating Detection Sensors sense the approach of a pedestrian or vehicle, and trigger to door operator actuator. Such devices can include buried magnetic loop detectors for vehicle gates, or motion sensors for pedestrian and vehicle gate. The type, range, and sensitivity of the detectors are determined by each application’s specific requirements.

Presence Sensors sense when some one or something is obstructing the opening and therefore the gate or door should remain open until the obstruction is no longer in the path of the door or gate. Typically the presence sensors will be ‘Beam’ type devices which create horizontal protection patterns in the door/gate threshold.

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