Security Clearance

by Katie Lee

Make sure you know everything you need to know about retail security gates.

By Shawn D. Wright

Choosing a roll-down security gate is not a decision business owners enter into lightly. There’s so much to choose from when it comes to selecting the perfect gate for your location.

Do you need a solid, metal overhead gate, blocking the view of everything that is housed behind it? Would your needs be better suited if you chose a grill-type gate that allows a partial view into the location you’re attempting to secure? Do I really need a rolling gate or would an overhead door be the perfect solution for my needs?

Just as all these choices are being considered, one must also consider their location and surroundings. Strict rules, limitations and regulations sometimes surround what types of security gates can be used in certain locations. Not all gates are permitted by law due to city and state codes and regulations. These laws vary from state to state and have strict rules regarding the color, the height and the design. A reputable installer will be well versed on the laws of his state and will inform you if your choice will be in violation of code.

Store owners and residents in New York are still divided on the Great Debate of 2009 on whether or not to ban the solid roll-down gates that cover many storefront entrances. While many residents claimed they were an eyesore, drawing the unwanted attention of street artist looking for their next canvas to showcase the latest graffiti skills, many more in the retail and security industries deemed gates necessary and a security measure they absolutely couldn’t do without.

Once it’s determined that states’ law will permit your gate installation, it’s never too early to begin proactively thinking about how to get the most out of your new gate. Though gates that are of high quality and installed correctly by a reputable company are designed to last anywhere from 10 to 15 years (some experts even forecast 20 years), it’s never too early to begin thinking about maintenance. Gates are designed to secure, but the last thing you want at the end of a long shift is to find your gate isn’t working properly and that it may cause a safety issue at your facility. Ignoring the problem will definitely not resolve it.

Continuing to use a gate that has been giving you issues for months is only an accident waiting to happen or, in the case of retail owners, extra hours spent after business hours waiting for a repair crew to show up and get your gate back up and functioning properly again. Neither is a good scenario. A gate that can only be open or closed halfway isn’t helpful, but most certainly is a hazard.

Don’t ignore a squeaky gate for months and not expect problems down the road. Here are some tips that may save you a lot of headache and time in the long run.

• Look, listen and take note. If you use your gate on a daily basis, it will be easier to determine when the gate isn’t working just right. Be very observant to sound and how smoothly the door is operating as it rises and lowers.

• Let the sensors be your guide. If sensors are damaged, seek a repair from a professional/maintenance company as soon as possible. This is just as critical as the door itself. Sensors are one of the first steps to safe usage and passage.

• Don’t attempt to be someone you’re not.  Just because the gate looks as though you may be able to repair it yourself, it doesn’t mean you can. A gate can weigh hundreds of pounds. If you’re not skilled in gate repair, leave it to the experts. Let them do what they do best. You don’t want to be responsible for a gate that could potentially malfunction and injure someone. The time or money you may have to spend waiting for a repair person to arrive on-site will be well worth the wait in the long run.

• Get that gate checked out; give it a much-needed tune up. Gates won’t typically break when it’s convenient for you. More than likely, it will be at store closing right when you’re ready to head home. Gate maintenance should be at the top of your list of preparedness. Experts recommend your gate should be serviced at least every 6 months — possibly more often if the gates are being used in very harsh climates or are very old. While most companies will put forth the effort into getting their HVAC and refrigeration systems serviced through maintenance, some don’t place gate PM as high on their list, but they should. Gates are critical to protecting your merchandise and facility and should be well-maintained to prevent them from failing just when you least expect it.

• When comparison shopping for a maintenance company, cheaper isn’t always better. Ask your prospective repair person for a checklist of what the gate technician will be looking for during the tune up. You have a right to know your money is being spent well and your gate will be reliable just when you need it to be.

• Once you have a service provider in mind, make sure they can offer you same-day service should your gate need repair. Though there may be a wait on parts, usually a reputable repair person can at least get your location secure for the night.

— Shawn D. Wright is business development manager of Express Facility Service & Maintenance INC, based in Folsom, Louisiana. Express Service, a project management/facility maintenance company, has been in the industry for 12 years and specializes in everything from electrical, plumbing and floor repair to HVAC PM service, IT services and gate repair. To reach Wright or Express Service, please email [email protected] or [email protected].

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