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Gate motors work hard to open and close large, often heavy gates at the push of a button. But during Winter months they often have to work a bit harder still. An understanding of the specific issues is important in understanding how preventative maintenance can help avoid reliability and safety problems.
Winter usually means higher rainfall, lower temperatures (which can regularly go below freezing at night), leaves and other detritus on the ground, possible snowfall and darker mornings and evenings. All of these can affect automatic gate operation so here’s our guide to the ways that Winter maintenance can help maintain reliable and safe automated gate operation.
Any machinery that starts from a static condition to one where elements of it move faces issues in colder conditions as it can require more force to get things moving. Think of your car and starting it on cold, Winter mornings. It usually takes a bit longer to get going than it does when it’s warmer, and the same happens with gate motors.
This can be overcome by increasing the force applied by the motors during the Winter, but this needs to be done by a professional installer. To ensure that the gate automation is still safe, by holding the gate at the leading edge you should be able to stop it moving. If you can’t stop it, the torque is set too high. Once the weather gets a bit warmer, the motors should be returned to their lower torque settings.
Any good gate automation system has obstacle detection but snow that is deeper than the bottom of your gates, leaves and other debris on sliding gate tracks and strong winds can all act as obstacles and prevent your gates from operating as they should. Strong winds are periodic and may simply require swing gates to be left open while the weather is bad enough. However, snow and debris on tracks should be cleared before gates are operated.
Articulated arms, gears, sliding stainless steel rams and wheel hubs and bearings all need to be lubricated to ensure smooth movement with as little friction as possible. Hinges also need to be greased regularly to ensure minimal resistance from the gates does not strain motors.
Photocells provide essential safety for gate automation systems. However, they are also attractive to slugs and insects which can damage circuit boards and obscure sensors. Regular cleaning inside the photocell casings and sealing joints and cable grommets with silicone sealant all helps keep safety photocells doing their job.
Underground motors should be installed with adequate drainage to ensure the motors don’t sit in water for any period of time. Rotting leaves and other debris from driveways can block drainage holes so regular checks to ensure water is draining properly from underground motor boxes is required.
It helps to mount ram motors at a slight angle so that the gate mounted arm end is 4 to 8mm below the gate motor end. This allows rainwater to run down the arms away from the motors rather than into the motors. This prevents water from entering the motor casing, dispersing the water-soluble grease used to lubricate moving parts and causing gears to wear where they mesh without sufficient lubrication.
Regular use of automated gates is often at the beginning and end of the day when homeowners go to work and take children to school. In the dark, gates can move without being seen where street lighting or car headlights don’t illuminate the gates through their full range of travel. It can be very useful to install additional lighting that illuminates the gates when they’re operated. This can be with motion detectors or triggered by the gate operation itself.
Gate automation safety is a vitally important aspect of any automatic gate installation. If you have any questions, call Linkcare on 01895 232 626 and we’ll advise you on how to makes automatic gates safer.