You still need a physical barrier

Residential Security Handbook 2021: Secure Living Residential Estate (Industry), Access Control & Identity Management, Products

No matter what technical solutions are available, an estate, complex or even a single house still needs a physical barrier to control access, in other words, a gate or boom of some sort. But even these physical security devices have evolved over the years to include more technology and functionality than before.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions asked three companies focused on physical access control for the residential estate market (and other markets) what physical barriers can be used for traffic control, primarily for vehicles but also for foot traffic, and what features and functionality they include.

Image source: Turnstar Systems.

There are many options to choose from when looking at physical barriers. For access to an estate or complex, Craig Sacks, CEO of Turnstar recommends a multi-layered and multi-purpose approach in terms of physical access.

“A vehicle or spike barrier is the first layer; a secondary layer would be a swing or sliding gate,” Sacks explains. “The two layers can be run together or independently. The advantage of having the two different layers is to use each layer on its own to suit the requirement at the time: the vehicle/spike barrier for high-speed, heavy-duty access when there are high levels of traffic; the sliding/swing gate at night when traffic is minimal and the risk of an infiltration is higher. This solution also aids in times of civil unrest.”

Centurion Systems’ Charl Mijnhardt believes traffic barriers are a mainstay of vehicular access control on high-volume – and often high-security – sites and have become ubiquitous as new residential properties abound on the back of widespread urban development, with South Africa boasting in excess of eight thousand estate developments.

“There are many reasons that traffic barriers have remained popular despite newer innovations in access control, not least of which is the fact that barriers themselves have evolved to become more robust and feature-rich to meet emergent security needs in residential and even commercial environments,” he notes. “They can also be integrated with complementary solutions such as roadway spikes, further enhancing security by helping to prevent tailgating and vehicle theft.”

Image source: Turnstar Systems.

When it comes to access control at individual residences, Mijnhardt says gate motors are a staple that have seen significant technological advancements in recent years, becoming much more reliable and innovative. “Developments such as smartphone integration and intelligent diagnostic feedback have made gate motors the preferred solution for providing security at arguably the most vital access point.”

Hynek Pindak, sales director at Flow Systems, recommends turnstiles for pedestrians and boom barriers for vehicles when it comes to estate access, while manual boom gates can be used to access specific areas within the estate, such as the golf club. For access to homes, he recommends sliding or swing gates.

How to buy for service and longevity

The security industry is not alone in having found that people buy on price and often end up paying more because cheaper products don’t last as long and service providers who cut margins to the bone don’t last long either, or they fall short when it comes to service and maintenance.

A key point to observe when buying your gates and barriers is to go and see what you are buying, states Pindak. Compare the look and feel of the products from different manufacturers and pay attention to how long the company has been in business for.

When selecting a traffic barrier, or any security system for that matter, there are a number of factors that must be taken into account once the site has been audited and security needs identified, adds Mijnhardt. Most important of these is to ensure that the barrier is rated for a high number of daily operations and is durably constructed to withstand heavy use as well as environmental conditions, given that most barriers are installed outdoors where they are perennially exposed to the elements.

Image source: Flow Systems

With loadshedding, a feature that is of vital importance is a battery backup facility that ensures that the barrier will continue working even during a prolonged interruption in mains power to ensure that the security of the estate or complex is not compromised.

“Finally, one must look at how easy the barrier will be to maintain down the line,” says Mijnhardt. “Our products are designed to not only provide the best long-term reliability and performance, but to be installer-friendly with advanced diagnostics and easy access to the electronics, which includes an intuitive LCD interface for streamlined commissioning, translating into an efficient solution that makes life easier for everyone.”

Sacks believes the critical buying factor is who you are buying from. “Turnstar has its main factory in Johannesburg and branches in both the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, thereby offering nationwide service.”

In addition, he advises customers to examine the guarantee they receive as well as LEDs in the barrier arm, which are great for safety, visibility and aesthetics. Of course, he agrees that battery backup is essential, as is the speed of operation: “Our 3 m barrier opens within 1,1 seconds.”

Products and additional functionality

Turnstar manufactures heavy-duty, high-speed vehicle barriers and spike barriers. The barrier arm is fitted with an ultra-bright LED strip which increases visibility substantially, making it safer and reducing the likelihood of someone not seeing it – night-time visibility is also greatly enhanced.

Sacks says the devices are supplied standard with loop detection, ensuring that no accidental closing will occur and damage a vehicle. Collision detection is inherent in the product and the barrier arm will automatically reverse in the event of a collision. In order to reduce the cost of damaged poles, the pole will break away if hit by a vehicle and can then be refitted easily. Battery backup is also standard.

Turnstar offers a 2-year guarantee and instead of the usual 3000 operations per day limit, which many other solutions offer,” Sacks adds, “our product is designed for up to 10 000 operations per day.”

The latest products from Turnstar are its Velocity automatic vehicle barrier and the Velocity Raptor spike barrier. “We have designed and launched a new surface-mount spike design, the lowest profile in South Africa (55 mm), thereby minimising damage to the undercarriage of low cars while still having the installation, maintenance and drainage benefits of a surface-mounted spike barrier.”

Flow Systems has enhanced its barriers and turnstiles with the ability to grant access using cards, biometrics and even mobile phones. What’s more, to cater for Covid precautions, sanitiser turnstiles that force the user to sanitise before being allowed to gain access to an area, as well as making sure that only authorised people are allowed in, are now available.

Image source: Flow Systems

One of the features that makes Centurion’s access automation solutions particularly powerful is their superior expandability and scalability, allowing the security ecosystem to be tailored to individual site requirements, says Mijnhardt. “Our products are designed to provide excellent functionality both as a standalone solution and in concert with complementary solutions. One could, for example, add a GSM device to the traffic barrier, enabling residents to operate it via a smartphone app, which is more convenient since it obviates the need to carry remotes, which are easily lost or misplaced.

“Our GSM solutions also boast full automation functionality that users can employ at private residences for a wide variety of applications such as remotely controlling gate motors, switching lights on and off, and even receiving live feedback of the status of their entrance gate, all using their mobile phones.

“Our D5 SMART gate motor is a great example of how we are leveraging wireless technology and providing both installers and end-users with a highly compelling experience. Not only is the D5 SMART twice as fast as its predecessor, but it also has a built-in vibration sensor that detects and alerts homeowners to interference at the gate, which helps to prevent theft and break-ins.”

In conclusion, Mijnhardt states, “With the release of the D5 SMART in 2019, we believe that we have created a product that redefines and revolutionises the access control and automation experience not only from an installation standpoint, but from the perspective of the end-user, who will enjoy complete peace of mind thanks to the speed, novel security features – including the aforementioned vibration sensor – and excellent safety profile thanks to cutting-edge obstruction detection technology.”

For more information contact:

• Centurion Systems, +27 11 699 2400,,

• Flow Systems, +27 11 762 2453,,

• Turnstar Systems, +27 11 786 1633,,


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