Secure entrances a key concern while designing buildings
The main entrance to a modern building should be both unique in function and design. This is because it is integral to ones first impression and is an important part of any design. Now with a concentrated global focus on energy usage, security interfacing, emergency escape, smoke ventilation control and people monitoring requirements, an entrance’s design and functionality takes on a greater purpose. Gone are the days when entrances could be left permanently open, unsecured or non-monitored.
New buildings nowadays are opting to use sustainable systems in their design. To help achieve this, an automatic entrance can be designed using double glazed doors or even thermally insulated aluminium framed door systems. For large automatic sliding entrances several reduced opening distances can be programmed to limit energy costs. The opening width can be automatically adjusted by various external factors including wind, rain, temperature sensors and even by the number of people entering the building. An entrance incorporating a revolving door also provides extremely efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) control by allowing people to enter and exit the building without disrupting the internal air conditioned environment.
Previously only mandatory for large-scale projects such as airports, government facilities and banks, security control and monitoring is now an increasing consideration in the design stage of a building’s entrance. Monitoring automatic doors and people movement now extends to hospitals, office buildings and shopping complexes. Typical security controls may include automatic unlocking of doors in the morning and automatic locking it at night. There is also a partial lock function that allows the transfer of goods or documents through a locked partial opening while preventing the unauthorised entry of a person. In some higher security applications, a door may be required to lock immediately while closing if it detects a person trying to forcibly reopen it. Automated entrances can also provide individual shop owners with unique customer security features and warning alarms.
An automated entrance in a petrol service station for example can indicate to staff if a customer requires entry into the building during the evening when security is most critical. In the evening the door can remain locked allowing staff to complete their duties in a secure surrounding. If a customer approaches the locked door an alarm can sound notifying the attendant of the customer, the attendant can then press a remote button which is worn as a pendant to unlock and open the door. In some cases the door can be set to open partially and lock in this position to prevent complete access.
People counting functions incorporated into an automatic entrance are also beneficial to a building’s daily operation. Understanding and identifying how people interact within a building can help determine staffing, security requirements and air conditioning levels.
Remote monitoring of automatic entrances is also common. If a door is forced open after hours or the mains power is cut, automatic entrances can instantly send an email or SMS to the responsible person to notify them. Being able to monitor the operating performance, function and critical service messages allows for planned maintenance and less disruption to customers when required.
Emergency exits through a building entrance must also be considered in the security requirements. During an emergency the automatic entrance can be programmed to fully open allowing people to evacuate easily. In some cases the automatic sliding doors and their fixed panels can be pushed open to 90 degrees and stacked to the side for a wider clear opening. When the doors and panels are slid to the side like this, they provide twice the opening distance.
Choosing the correct automatic door installation is paramount to any building, whether the goal is reducing energy consumption, or it is a matter of evacuation planning or security monitoring.
Kevin Blacow is the national training and technical manager for Dorma Australia. With over 25 years’ experience, Blacow has been involved extensively in all facets of the Australian business including product design and manufacture, research and development, sales and service, staff training and in more recent years is responsible for export sales and product support to the Middle East and Far East regions.