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Not all turnstiles offer locking brakes because, in many cases, they are simply not required. For example, if a lobby has security officers on duty and low user volumes, the alarm from a turnstile barrier with low-resistance friction brakes being forced open will usually attract their attention and the officer can deal with the intruder. However, for higher security requirements or unmanned situations, locking brakes on turnstiles help ensure that the barriers cannot be forced open.

Locking Brakes for Stronger Security

Smarter Security offers Fastlane® turnstiles with optional locking brakes on several models including Fastlane Glassgate 155, 200, 250, 300, 400 and the Fastlane Glasswing. The locking brakes require an unprecedented level of force for attempted forced entry. The barriers would shatter before they would allow an intruder to pass through. Fastlane Glassgate’s glass barriers are also unique in terms of life safety in several powerful ways. Unlike others, the barriers are ½” (12mm) thick and are both tempered and laminated to provide unparalleled protection in the rare event of broken glass. Another unique safety feature is that Fastlane’s integrated shaft supports the glass barriers for their full height, up to 6’ (1800mm). When other turnstile brands support only half of their six-foot-tall glass panels, their barriers are much more susceptible to shattering. Fastlane’s added support dramatically reduces the risk of glass breakage and injury.

In simpler terms, a 200-pound man running flat out, and then jumping at these locked glass barriers, will bounce off and probably injure himself with no effect on the turnstile operation whatsoever. They are that strong! So when you combine powerful brakes, added shaft support and more durable glass barriers, you have an incredibly secure barrier system.

Locking Brakes and the Emergency Free Egress Requirement

While turnstiles with locking brakes are excellent for securing the lobby, they can present a challenge when addressing specific requirements for local building codes and/or corporate health and safety policy such as this one:

Persons on the secure side of the turnstile barriers must be able to easily escape through them, with minimal force (less than 90N), in an emergency, without the need to present a valid identity credential or have any specialized knowledge about getting out.

Emergency free egress is especially critical in cases like an active shooter situation in a facility where no fire alarm has been pulled. Typically, a fire alarm will cause any modern turnstile to open automatically in the exit direction, but in non-fire emergencies such as an active shooter scenario, the turnstile doesn’t receive any outside indication that it should open. The locking brakes keep people on the public side from getting into the facility, but they may also be keeping people on the secure side from getting out in this situation.

Due to inherent design constraints, some turnstile manufacturers have had difficulty addressing this requirement with their current product lines. One was recently told by a Fire Marshall that the installation of their turnstiles would no longer be allowed in his city because of their inability to provide free egress. The only workaround that this manufacturer could find was to install an option-switch that permanently disabled their brakes in both directions. While this addressed the emergency egress issue, it completely eliminated any enhanced lobby security that the customers thought they were purchasing.

However, with Fastlane turnstiles from Smarter Security, you get a different approach.  We offer an independently certified solution that fully meets these seemingly opposing requirements of physical security and personal safety – without compromising either.

The Answer: Intelligent Turnstiles with Neural Network Modelling 

Just as with cars, brakes can be the single most effective safety feature in a turnstile. However, it’s with added intelligence that a turnstile becomes able to read a situation and support the needs of the entrance at any time.

Fastlane optical turnstiles use multi-processor neural network modeling to determine precisely what is going on in the lanes. This system recognizes and alarms on an unauthorized tailgate attempt at less than ¼” behind an authorized user, but it also recognizes a pushed or pulled bag, cart, or stroller as being an integral part of a person passing through, preventing false alarms and the premature closure of the turnstile barriers.

This same modeling system has been modified to incorporate the concept that a person, or persons, stepping into the lane from the secure side, even without badging out, is probably not a significant security threat. In these cases, the locking brakes will immediately release, allowing the barriers to swing open with the touch of a finger. The person trying to escape can walk right through the lane with virtually no resistance from the barriers. Because this is still considered an unauthorized exit, the turnstile “forced barrier” alarms will sound when the person pushes through, but they will be outside and safe.

The only situation where this doesn’t happen is in the unlikely event of someone standing on the public side of the same lane the person is trying to escape through. In these cases, the swinging turnstile barriers could injure the person on the public side as the person on the secure side pushes through. Therefore, the brakes will not release until the person on the public side has moved a safe distance away from the barriers.

Not All Turnstiles Are Created Equal

When considering turnstiles for your secure facility, it is important to remember that not all turnstiles are created equal. Is the safety of your employees worth the risk of using anything but the best turnstiles on the market from Smarter Security? Take a look at the Fastlane turnstiles which feature locking brakes and see which one will serve you best when it comes to increasing security and ensuring personal safety.

author avatar
Colin Wright