Query the Access Control Expert

Opening and Closing Doors Properly

Q: What tips can you offer on integrating access control with an automatic door operator system?

A: The door operator system is a robotic self-contained entity, designed to operate autonomously with additional control and safety signals provided by external equipment. The system includes the doors/gates (and motors to open them), and a controller for the external actuating, access control and safety devices.

Special attention must be given to openings that utilize both door operators and locking hardware. Most door/gate operator systems do not provide physical security. Swinging doors can be manually opened without using the door operator. Sliding gates can be manually opened. Sliding doors can be pulled open; or they have an integral breakaway feature which allows for emergency egress by simply pushing on them.

Whatever locking arrangements ar e applied to such openings, it is contrary to the Life Safety Code to disable or override the safety features built into the door operator system. Egress from the premises shall never be impeded during those periods when the premises is occupied.

The door operator system is comprised of the power supplies, motors, connecting linkages and electronic controller. Auxiliary devices such as approach activation sensors, beam presence sensors, area presence sensors and external triggering devices are connected to the door operator controller as required for the particular application.

Door controllers also have built-in safety features and allow fine tuning such as how fast the doors open and close, the torque applied to move the doors, and sensitivity to obstructions for opening and closing sequences of the doors.

Once the door operator is installed and these initial setup calibrations are performed, the door operator controller also monitors the resistance to door movement and automatically recalibrates itself. Door operator systems also typically will have audible and visual signals.

A door operation cycle is in itiated by the external devices connected to it. Approach activation sensors produce a momentary contact closure across the activation input of the door operator. External card readers or other remote door access devices also present momentary contact closures to the door operator which initiate the door opening cycle (sequence).

So, for the door operator system to operate safely, it is necessary that the correct combination of sensors are provided and that the various timings of approach activation, hold open and area presence sensors are properly adjusted and confirmed by walk testing and observation of the system in use. Then the system needs to be regularly tested and maintained to keep all these elements operating in the proper balance.

A156.10 American National Standard for Power Operated Pedestrian Doors defines and governs requirements for pedestrian door systems. It was recently revised and updated. The American Association of Automatic Door Manufacturers (www.aadm.com) is the trade association of manufacturers of automatic pedestrian door systems. It offers a certification program for those who wish to acquire a working knowledge of proper door operator system specification and operation.

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