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Automatic Bollards Types and How They Work

Bollards are an essential tool for making our roadways, public and private areas safer and more secure. These barriers may simply look like metal posts, and you’re likely to overlook them altogether when you’re out and about, but they have a crucial role to play.

Bollards can help direct traffic so drivers know where and where not to go. They can also protect pedestrians from a vehicle that would run up onto a sidewalk or crash into a building if there were no barrier to stop them. These types of traffic incidents happen every day. Bollards can also help homeowners limit vehicular access to their driveways.

Bollards come in several different types, some of which offer permanent solutions and others of which are designed for temporary use. Automatic retractable bollards have the unique ability to raise or lower on command in a matter of seconds, making them a flexible protection solution for deployment in heavy-traffic areas. Automatic rising bollards facilitate more efficient traffic flow and increase security by making it easier to control vehicle access to a property or facility. They also provide greater convenience when compared to many other types of bollards.

Blockaides, Inc. is your one-stop headquarters for high-quality automatic bollard solutions. We feature a wide selection of stainless steel automatic bollard systems with an assortment of drive style and mounting options, so you can find a solution tailor-made to your unique security and traffic control needs.

What Are Automatic Bollards?

Automatic Retractable Bollards

Bollards are an effective tool when you want to block off an area from traffic, but what can you do when you only need to block off an area at certain times?

You could employ a temporary solution like traffic cones, but this solution requires someone to manually set up and remove the cones. Perhaps more importantly, a vehicle can easily run over and push away traffic cones. A better solution is to use removable bollards or manual retractable bollards, but you still have the problem of needing to move them or control them manually each time you want to block off or allow access to an area.

The unique solution you need for blocking areas part of the time and allowing access on-demand is automatic bollards, also called pop-up bollards or retractable bollards. Their high-tech design allows automatic bollards to raise when you want to block an area and to disappear into the ground when you want to open an area to traffic.

Unlike other mobile designs, these bollards are permanently installed in the ground. However, they don’t have to remain in place at all times like fixed bollard options do. In short, automatic bollards give you the best of both worlds in one product, making them the ideal solution for many applications.

How Do Automatic Bollards Work?

Hydraulic Retractable Bollard System

Automatic bollards can work using electric, pneumatic or hydraulic power. One of these types of power allows the driver mechanism to move the bollard up and down automatically. Let’s briefly examine the difference between these three types of automatic bollards:

  • Electric: An electric drive system is a traditional method of raising and lowering automatic bollards. An electric motor moves the piston in the cylinder to move the bollard. Automatic electric bollards have exceptional precision control and make the least amount of noise when they’re working.
  • Pneumatic: Pneumatic bollards rely on compressed air that drives a piston in a linear direction inside a cylinder. The benefits of pneumatic bollards include simple, accurate operation along with lower cost and fewer maintenance requirements.
  • Hydraulic: Automatic hydraulic bollards include an incompressible fluid and pump system that produces the linear motion. A hydraulic retractable bollard system creates a driving force up to 25 times greater than its pneumatic bollard counterpart, making it the better choice for heavy-duty applications.

Our pneumatic and hydraulic rising bollards are constructed to the highest standards and can integrate easily with your current access control or security system components. You can control automatic bollards in a few different ways, including from a remote control or key fob, a control room or a keypad.

The best setup depends on your specific location and application for the automatic bollards. For example, in the case of bollards used to limit access to a private residence, the homeowners would likely find a button on their keys a convenient option to lower their bollards when they’re ready to pull in or out of their driveway. In a public traffic application, a city may want to control their bollards remotely from a control room.

Working Applications of Automatic Bollards

Automatic Steel Bollards

Since automatic bollards are such a versatile choice, they can be useful in a wide variety of applications. Some examples for these applications include:

  • Parking lots and garages: When parking lots and garages are full, you need a way to close off entrances temporarily. Automatic bollards offer an excellent solution. Automatic bollards are also a helpful addition to private parking lots where employees or residents who have access can lower the bollards on command.
  • Public facilities: Automatic bollards are also the perfect solution for securing the entrances to public facilities from traffic before and after opening hours. For example, a park, zoo or museum that is closed during certain hours can have automatic bollards in place during these hours and have the bollards descend into the ground during open hours.
  • Businesses delivery zones: Businesses that accept deliveries may find automatic bollards especially helpful since they can use them to block off sections of the parking lot to ensure they are kept clear for delivery trucks. When the shipment arrives, the automatic bollards can be retracted so the truck driver has access to the delivery zone.
  • Emergency access lanes: Any facilities with emergency access or fire lanes can use retractable bollards to ensure these lanes are kept clear at all times so they are available in the event of an emergency. This includes banks and government buildings that need protection from high-security bollards but need to remove these bollards at times so emergency vehicles can quickly gain the access they need.
  • Private driveways: Some homeowners employ gates or other security measures to block their driveway from unauthorized traffic. Automatic driveway bollards are a great option to consider for this purpose. You can quickly and conveniently lower the bollards when you’re pulling into or leaving your driveway and then allow them to ascend again to keep uninvited vehicles from gaining access to your property.

Benefits of Automatic Bollards

Bollards make public and private places all over the world safer by providing a barrier that a vehicle cannot go through.

There are several reasons to consider installing bollards — and automatic bollards, in particular — in an area. Some of the possible benefits of automatic bollards include:

  • Safety: Bollards make public and private places all over the world safer by providing a barrier that a vehicle cannot go through. This security measure can make storefronts, bike paths, sidewalks and safer places for pedestrians. With bollards in place, drivers can either run off the road and quickly cause a tragedy, either unwittingly or as an act of terrorism.
  • Aesthetic: Some traditional models of bollards can be unsightly, but Blockaides offers covers and caps for your automatic bollards that can actually enhance the aesthetics of your area. You can even disguise your bollards with flower pots and other decorative features to seamlessly integrate them into your landscaping.
  • Versatility: The most unique advantage that automatic bollards offer over other types of bollards is that they allow you to quickly and easily convert a space as needed, either allowing or blocking access. This is very useful for places where restricted access is a must at times while you want to allow room for traffic at other times.
  • Durability: With the proper care and maintenance, automatic bollards can last a long time. This is great news for businesses that rely on their automatic bollards to enhance the function, safety, and atmosphere of their space. When you invest in automatic bollards, you know you’re gaining a long-term solution.
  • Convenience: Finally, automatic bollards are extremely convenient. Fully pneumatic and hydraulic options don’t require any manual assistance, so all it takes is the touch of a button to either open or close access to an area. This makes automatic bollards the best solution for homeowners or business owners who want to enjoy effortless functionality.

What Are Automatic Bollards Made of?

Bollards on the market today come in a variety of materials. Some materials offer unique benefits that make them the best choice for a certain application. For example, aluminum is exceptionally lightweight, making it a good choice for bollards that are meant to provide more of a visual delineation than a heavy-duty barrier. When you need a strong, durable bollard, steel is an excellent choice.

As part of our commitment to offering bollards produced from only the best materials, all the automatic bollards from Blockaides are manufactured from high-grade stainless steel. A stainless steel bollard will provide superb resistance to corrosion, making it a good choice in wet and humid climates. Stainless steel is also less susceptible to pitting and staining than many other materials, helping to maintain the bollard’s aesthetic appeal.

What’s more, stainless steel requires less maintenance and is regarded as an environmentally-friendly material alternative. You can even paint or powder-coat stainless steel to a #4 finish.

How Do Automatic Bollards Meet Crash Ratings?

In the U.S., the two most relevant crash rating standards for bollards are the ASTM F2656-07 and ASTM F3016-14. Both of these standards specify how bollard manufacturers should test their products to ensure they’re really capable of stopping a vehicle that runs into them. ASTM F2656-07 is the standard test for security barriers, and ASTM F3016-14 is designed to test barriers’ capabilities against a vehicle going 30 mph or less.

These tests are important to demonstrate that a bollard’s ability to stop vehicles is proven and not just theoretical. A bollard wouldn’t pass these tests if it were poorly constructed or made from weak materials. Automatic steel bollards from Blockaides meet these industry standards, so you know they will do their job effectively, even in the event of a dangerous crash. This is important since storefront crashes occur roughly 60 times every day.

Automatic Bollard Installation

To install an automatic bollard, you must first dig up the area where the bollard will go. In some cases, this may mean breaking up concrete or asphalt or raking away gravel. Once the surface layer above the dirt that has been removed, you can dig a hole using an auger or posthole digger. This hole should match the depth of the bollard.

Now you can position the bollard, contained in its rectangular steel encasement, in the hole. The rectangular casing and the top of the bollard should be level with the ground when the bollard is put away so cars can easily drive over the area as long as the bollard is not in place.

Another aspect of the installation may include running electrical wire to a control panel, though this step isn’t required for wireless options. Whatever control method is employed, properly installed automatic bollards will rise out of their rectangular casing on command and provide an effective barrier as needed and then descend back into the casing when you want them out of the way.

As mentioned previously, automatic bollards can rely on electric, pneumatic or hydraulic power for this operation. Hydraulic is the most powerful option and is able to raise and lower the bollards within seconds of you pressing a button or entering a code.

Why Buy Automatic Bollards from Blockaides?

Blockaides has been providing high-quality bollards, barriers and other safety solutions since 2010. We work closely with architects, project managers, contractors and end users to provide the most reliable and cost-effective protection products for all our clients’ specific needs. We have the expertise to assess your security requirements and recommend the right product for your applications.

Automatic rising bollard systems are on the cutting edge of security barrier technology, but they might not be right for every application. Take a look at our site to find the perfect bollard for your needs, whether it’s fully automated or a simple, mobile design you’re looking for. If you’re interested in automatic security bollards, we can discuss which drive and mounting options would best fit your intended application.

Contact us for more information and to receive a free automatic bollard estimate today!