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Gate automation is made up of a group of individual components that combine to make a new piece of machinery.
Typically, this includes motors to move gates, safety devices to stop moving gates injuring or damaging people or things and something to tell the gates to open and close.
So, lets break it down in the order that things happen in a complete gate automation system.
The most common method of opening and closing gates is with a device called a transmitter, remote control, gate remote or remote fob. This is a small, hand-held device with a number of buttons on it.
The number of buttons usually corresponds with the number of channels the remote has and therefore, the number of different systems it can operate. For example, a two channel remote can provide the signal for two discrete devices or operations.
Normally, pressing the same button will tell automatic gates to open fully or close fully depending on their status when the button is pressed.
When the relevant button is pressed, the fob sends a signal to a receiver connected to the gate motor controls.
There are two frequencies used for this signal in the UK, 433MHz and 868MHz.
Transmitters and receivers in the same gate automation system have to use the same frequency. The remotes use different coding technologies including rolling code or fixed code.
When new remotes are added to an existing system, they must be the right frequency and coding type before they can be programmed to operate with the existing receiver. When a receiver gets a signal from a remote that is paired with it, it tells the gate motor or motors to operate. If the gates are open, this instruction causes them to close and vice versa.
Alternative ways to open automatic gates are often provided by an access control system. At its simplest, an access control system would have a button outside the gates that rings a bell or sounds a buzzer inside the house when pressed. Another button inside the house would then be pushed to operate the gates so that the visitor could enter.
There are obvious limitations to systems that don’t allow some form of communication in this process. Systems called intercoms allow a visitor to speak to the house occupants before being let in or kept out. Access control intercoms with audio and video allow the occupants to speak to and see their visitors.
Intercoms systems can be wired in or use on of a variety of wireless technologies. Radio is the longest established, with WiFi gaining popularity in recent years. GSM systems use mobile telephone technology and can operate gates from anywhere in the world where there’s a mobile signal compatible with the mobile network used.
Additional external security may be added to a gate automation access control system with a keypad that requires programmed number combinations to be keyed in to operate the gates. Proximity reader do the same when appropriate key fobs are touched onto the right place. And card readers open gates when programmed magnetic strip cards are swiped through their mechanism.
The signal sent to the gate controls from gate remotes, intercoms or access control keypads etc instructs the gate motor controls to operate the single gate motor on a sliding gate or the (usually) two motors on swing gates. These motors commonly use electric motors or hydraulic systems to move gates. Swing gates rotate around hinges on gate posts or pillars at the sides of the drive entrance. Sliding gates run along tracks laid across the drive entrance on wheels and are supported at the top of the gate above the motor with a rolling retainer.
Swing gates use articulated arms, hydraulic rams, linear screws or hidden underground motors amongst other methods to operate gates.
Sliding gates are moved by a static motor with an external cog on the drive motor that meshes with a toothed rack mounted along the gate. Rotating the cog moves the rack and, therefore, the gate.
A moving gate can be dangerous if it is not prevented from coming into contact with anyone or anything.
This can be achieved by physically preventing the dangerous areas from being accessed such as with open boarded gates that slide along railings. Here it is possible to put a limb through the gaps in the open boarded gate as it passes in front of the railings. If the limb is then pushed further through a gap in the railings, the continued movement of the gate would crash the limb against the railings. Wire mesh that prevents limbs from being pushed through any gaps represents a physical exclusion of the danger.
Electronic safety measures include the use of infrared photocells. These operate in pairs with one emitting an invisible bean of light onto the other. If the beam is broken a signal is sent to the gate controls to stop their operation. Placing these across any access to danger areas stops the gates when anyone breaks the beam as they enter.
It is also possible to apply rubber safety edges to the leading edges of moving gates. These are designed to stop and reverse the gates when the safety edge comes into contact with anything.
This is a general description of how the major components of a gate automation system work. For more specific information, please call Linkcare’s technical gate automation support team on 01895 232 626.