Mobility is the acknowledged pacemaker of present-day society, manifested by air travel, railroads and road vehicles, the latter of course making the greatest impact. Against this background, it is interesting that one particular system placing clear limits on the individual mobility of vehicles has survived for centuries. It is not the supply of fossil fuels that is meant, but the vehicle access barrier. And anyone who thinks this device has nothing more to do than be lowered and raised again is seriously underestimating a modern high-tech installation. This also has a key role to play in the perimeter security concept for corporate facilities.
The parking business
Vehicle parking is an important sector for 12-year-old Magnetic Autocontrol GmbH, an independent company based in Schopfheim, Germany. Since 1972, when it was still a part of Magnetic Elektromotoren GmbH, it has developed, manufactured and sold barrier systems as well as drive units for doors and gates. The fields of application range from straightforward company vehicle entrances to hotels, camping sites and highway toll stations. Some 20% of its employees in Germany are permanently engaged in research and development activities, developing intelligent drives, microprocessor control systems and peripheral components, since today it is primarily the drive system of a barrier that differentiates it from its competitive products.
Magnetic Auto control’s success to date has been based on its almost legendary torque motor combined with a gearbox and a crank-rocker linkage. The drive is controlled by an intelligent logic system that continuously registers the position of the barrier boom and controls its movement as a function of position. This means that the barrier moves harmoniously and gently, regardless of the external environment, whether operating at -35°C in Alaska or +50°C in Dubai. The mechanical components in the system are loaded as little as possible, thus ensuring a long service life for the barriers. Another advantage of the torque motor lies in its rugged construction as an induction motor whose rotor can be locked continuously in the end positions of barrier travel. The motor is so built that it cannot normally overheat, but should it ever do so, it is switched off automatically.
It may come as a surprise to the layman that this technology can be refined even further. At the Intertraffic Trade Fair last March in Amsterdam, Magnetic Autocontrol presented the new Micro Drive generation of barriers. This new product is based on the patented MHTM drive system which is integrated into the enclosure to make a very compact design of unit. It applies the well-known technology of the servo drives used in mechanical engineering, combining the advantages of the rugged induction motor with the control characteristics of the synchronous motor. When applied to barriers, it makes for a more dynamic drive in practical use and hence even faster opening times, this being between 0.5 and 4 seconds depending on the length of the boom (at lane widths up to 6 meters). A special linkage enables the boom to be easily locked in its end positions, thus providing protection against vandalism. MHTM technology offers an energy efficiency that is unique for barriers, and therefore, optimum preconditions for powering by solar cells and batteries with no connection to the utility supply network.
Operation just like a cell phone
The MGC control system is operated by menu navigation on a large graphic display and is intuitive, akin to using a normal mobile telephone. Detector modules can be plugged into the control system to register vehicles, making it possible, for example, to connect four vehicle loop detectors. These barriers are easy to control via Ethernet TCP/IP, USB or other interfaces, whether wired or wireless. The engineers who developed the system attached great importance to security, giving the control system a certified security input for connecting external surveillance devices. As the drive has fast-acting control characteristics, it is also possible to react quickly to dangerous situations and system faults. For all concerned it is, therefore, good to know that the technology behind the barrier has been well thought out. The finished products show that there really is more to it than just tilting a horizontal pole up and down again.T Ravi Shankar General Manager Magnetic Autocontrol Pvt. Ltd.