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How the automatic door industry responds to varying security needs

Blog 12, August 2022

In the simplest terms, all doors act as an access point to buildings. Automated doors usually make this access easier. But, automated doors also make buildings and rooms more secure. It’s a key differentiator that automatic doors have over manual doors, but one we don’t talk about as much as their other benefits.

However, for security and safety challenges that originate at points of access, the automatic door industry has continuously proved its ability to respond, working with customers on application-specific solutions that often become widely accepted across different markets.

Len Pursell, president of AAADM, codes and compliance manager for Stanley Access Technologies, and a four-decade veteran of the automatic door industry, says many innovations are driven by customer demand. “Ours is a nimble industry, with R&D experts willing to take on any challenge,” said Pursell. “It’s often the case that, if one customer needs it, many others will benefit from the innovation. This willingness to evolve has fueled our industry as long as I’ve been involved with it.”

Only automatic doors can work with access control systems to manage who gets inside. It might even be something you experience every day at your own office building, where you might have to scan an employee ID card to gain access.

There are a number of reasons building owners might want to limit access, and safety and security are usually at the top of the list. Another popular usage is pharmacy rooms at hospitals, so only authorized personnel have access to medications. Also, although it’s unpleasant to consider, maternity wards to prevent kidnappings.

Security systems can log who is accessing automatic doors and when, adding another layer of security if suspicious activity needs to be investigated.

There are other benefits of adding automatic doors to a building’s security access controls, including the ability to automatically unlock all doors in the case of fire for easy exiting. Or the reverse, automatically locking all doors, popular with financial institutions at risk of robbery. Some systems even have remote capability so door setting can be changed at will.

Beyond controlling access, which requires companionability with a security access system, some safety features are baked right into the door itself. Such is the case with hurricane-resistance doors and bullet-resistant doors.

“In areas prone to hurricanes, hurricane-resistant doors are often mandated by state or local laws,” said Pursell. To test that doors withstand the desired cyclic pressures inward and outward as well as continuous pressure static load from high winds, the industry has developed a dramatic test, conducted in special labs. “We fire a nine-foot long wooden 2 x 4 at the door from a special cannon,” said Pursell. The projectiles are fired at both 55 mph and 80 mph, the two standard impacts most laws require, depending on their location in hurricane zones.

Bullet-rated doors are made of specialty glass and other reinforcements to the frame and structure of the door, and are often found on military bases and other government buildings. Financial institutions are customers, too.

There are many applications in which the various security features of automatic doors pay dividends. The list is ever-expanding, thanks to industry ingenuity and growing customer need.


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