A Guide to Vehicular Access Control

Vehicular access control is an essential method of controlling traffic flow, so it’s no surprise that it’s in higher demand than ever. Think about the last time you visited a shopping centre, a hospital or a retail park. Did you have to wait until the car in front had gone through the barrier? Were there bollards that blocked your car from driving or parking in certain areas? These are just two examples of modern vehicular access control.

In this post, we will be offering a full guide to vehicular access control, including: what vehicular access control actually is, the types of vehicular access control systems and the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Vehicular Access


What is vehicular access control?

Many areas suffer from a rising amount of traffic that tends to congregate within one small zone, for example large retail car parks, city centres or hospitals. Despite driving laws, vehicular access control is a simple way of controlling the flow of traffic, and can effectively section off cars and drivers.

With the products produced by Portcullis, access control can be broadened to commercial or residential products. However, vehicular access control primarily tend to be used commercially, usually utilised by city councils or retail property owners.


Types of vehicular access control systems

The types of vehicular access control systems available are numerous and growing, as exciting new technology is made available to companies. Of course, there are already a variety of existing vehicular access control systems, ranging from the humble (yet effective) road blocker to sophisticated rising bollards. The three types in particular that we are going to talk about today are: commercial barriers, road blockers and bollards.

Commercial barriers

Commercial barriers

Commercial barriers provide vehicular access control for a variety of environments, from small car parks, to train crossings, to high-tech secure PSA 68 barriers. Although these barriers may look visibly similar, there are crucial differences in installation and maintenance.

Commercial barriers are an excellent method of vehicular access control. In terms of functionality, they are similar to bollards and road blockers, although more beneficial in certain areas – often these types of barriers can be seen in one-way system car parks such as retail shopping centres.

While it can be argued that these barriers are flimsier than bollards, they are also limited in functionality as they simply raise and drop. They are dynamic enough to let vehicles through one at a time, but unlike rising bollards, it’s difficult to completely move them out of the way when required.


Road blockers

Road blockers

Road blockers (also known as rising curbs) are machine-operated vehicular access control devices. There are different types of road blockers, some are surface mounted and can rise and lower, others – like a PAS 68 counter terrorism blocker – can stop a fully loaded 7500kg lorry travelling at 50 mph.

One popular type of road blocker is known as a surface mount road blocker. These blockers are the opposites of rising curb road blockers in the fact that they offer less security measures, but are cheaper. A bonus of surface mount road blockers is that they offer cost effective vehicular access control for areas such as golf club car parks, where high security is less of a concern than speed of entrance.

Also known as cheese wedges, rising curb blockers meanwhile contrast with the more affordable surface mount road blockers, as they are more expensive but offer a high level of security. As rising curb blockers can can rise out of the ground, they are often used in commercial environments where vehicular access control is a top priority. These types of blockers are effective as a high security or counter terrorism measure, hence the higher price tag.

The advantage of road blockers is that you can truly customise your level of vehicular access control depending on your needs. The drawback is that the higher tech ones are costly – but we think, worth it.




Similar to road blockers, there are also multiple types of bollards, from manual bollards that are usually fixed into place, to PAS 68 tested, automatic rising bollards. Bollards are simply metal cylinders that serve as a blockade to vehicles. Bollards often appear in town centres close to pedestrian gateways or bus lanes, and they are often used in commercial environments.

The biggest benefit of bollards is their versatility – rising bollards are fantastic for vehicular access control at intervals, as they can be raised or dropped as required. This versatility makes them more dynamic than commercial barriers and surface mount road blockers.
The drawback of bollards is that to use them effectively, you need more than one in a given area. This can be more inconvenient and sometimes more costly than a simple barrier or blockade.

Whether you’re looking for low level control or maximum security measures, Portcullis can help you with your commercial barriers, road blockers or bollard requirements. Why not get in touch today?

The rise of bollards this Christmas

New York Bollards

Disclaimer – The following post in no way intends to trivialise tragic events – instead simply aiming to share the benefits of bollards and their widespread use.

Following the horrific and tragic terror attacks at Berlin and Nice, the new reality at festive markets is an increase in bollard usage. Although they are not totally effective against every type of terror attack, bollards can be invaluable for stopping car crashes and provide additional benefits by sectioning streets and controlling crowds.

In October earlier this year, The Telegraph reported that the Local Government Association had warned councils to be ‘vigilant’ and had ‘encouraged them to follow government guidance in protecting areas susceptible to mass casualty atrocities.’

What’s more, the BBC themselves reported that cities could be hardened with the use of bollards and barriers that were capable of withstanding direct impacts. This year, Birmingham, Bristol and Leeds have all seen new bollards and anti-terror barriers installed, with further work being planned and carried out across the country.

Bollards block terrorist vehicles
The idea behind bollards is actually relatively straightforward. Quite simply, these individual metal structures (usually short rounded poles) are placed in close proximity to each other to span the width of a road, essentially blocking vehicles from streets.

As previously mentioned, the growing number of terrorist threats has led to recommendations for councils across the UK to implement bollards in areas that could become dense with people.

It’s positive to see so many councils acting swiftly and taking security seriously, regardless of whether a specific threat has or hasn’t been detected. Leeds City Council, for instance, further emphasised the importance of safety in an article in the Yorkshire Evening Post:

“Whilst there is currently nothing to suggest any specific threat to Leeds, as always our first priority is working with the police and partners to make sure the city is as safe and prepared as possible.”

Leeds Bollards
(One of many types of bollards in Leeds City Centre.)

Bollards bolster crowd management
An additional benefit of bollards is their streamlining of crowds. With so many pedestrians congregating on streets lined with shops, especially around Christmas-time, car accidents can often be a worry factor if the street isn’t fully pedestrianised.

When used correctly, bollards can also serve to reinforce traffic systems, preventing drivers from turning down streets they shouldn’t and stopping a problem before it occurs.

The increasing use of commercial bollards is undoubtedly proving that councils are prioritising safety over cost-cutting – a decision that should be appreciated and applauded. If nothing else, it’s good to have the safety and security that seeing them provides.

Portcullis delivers successful door automation to national contract

Gate automation specialist, Portcullis Automation Ltd, has added a new service to its core disciplines following a successful delivery of door automation to Liberty Living Ltd.

Door Automation

The national client, Liberty Living Ltd, provides student accommodation and operates in 19 locations across more than 55 sites. The new doors are just one of the services delivered to Liberty Living by Portcullis including preventative maintenance with a 24/7 call out facility for gates, barriers, automatic doors and roller shutters. Both Portcullis and Liberty Living consider safety to be a top priority.

Portcullis were enlisted to provide assistance with the existing entrance swing doors which were proving to be the cause of a recurring health and safety issue. The layout of the building caused a wind tunnel which was emphasised by the doors and could cause harm to users. Liberty London requested Portcullis to design a door system with a high duty cycle that would not embody the same issue as the previous swing doors.

Utilising their experience with automation and entrance solutions, Portcullis proposed a new automatic sliding door system. The system would allow the door to be in constant operation without being susceptible to the weather. Liberty Living Ltd have already started to apply the solution on a national level.

Discussing the solution, Justin Earl, Managing Director of Portcullis Gate Automation Ltd, said:

Portcullis is pleased to have delivered another successful solution for Liberty Living Ltd. The previous swing door posed an unexpected risk and the quick solution shows Portcullis’ and Liberty Living’s commitment to health and safety.

The doors have had a positive reception and are already being rolled out nationally which just goes to show that Liberty Living have strong faith in our solution. We look forward to providing further assistance to Liberty Living Ltd with other projects.

The provision of door automation to the client follows recent news that Portcullis has retained Liberty Living Ltd for an additional three years.

To find out how Portcullis can help you, why not contact us today?

Gate Safety Week 2017: Installing and Maintaining Powered Gates

One of the most important weeks in October for anyone within the gate industry should always be Gate Safety Week. Powered gates are becoming increasingly popular however, the gate industry has experienced issues with poorly installed and maintained gates leading to serious accidents and fatalities. From 9-15 October 2017, Gate Safety Week ran to raise awareness of powered gates and to prevent accidents, here Portcullis Gates share their thoughts on the #SafeGatesSaveLives campaign.

Gate safety Week

What is Gate Safety Week?

Gate Safety Week is an initiative created by DHF to raise awareness about the safety concerns of powered gates within the industry. According to DHF, only 30% of all powered gates operated in the UK are deemed fit for purpose. The deaths of six adults and three children provide are stark reminders.

Alongside raising awareness about the dangers of poorly maintained gates, Gate Safety Week hopes to share information on how to ensure that your gates meet safety standards. It is crucial for any gate owner, provider or expert to be able to understand the dangers of unsafe powered gates and how to effectively install and maintain powered gates.

The Dangers of Unsafe Powered Gates

While they are undoubtedly convenient, powered gates can still pose risks. Although the health and safety law may not apply to domestic homeowners, private powered gate owners can still be liable for any harm or damage caused by their gates. Dangerous incidences caused by unsafe gates may include human safety concerns such as people being hit by the gate or electrocuted by the motors, weather related concerns such as the gates blowing over, or work related concerns such as them moving unexpectedly if not sufficiently restrained when maintenance is underway.

To prevent your gates from becoming unsafe, it is important to ensure that they are installed correctly and that regular checks are undertaken to ensure that their safety is maintained.

How to Ensure Effective Installation of Powered Gates

By law, all powered gates must be installed in accordance with the Machinery Directive as noted by recent safety advisories from the Health and Safety Executive. In addition, a product standard for gates is in place to aid manufacturers and installers in meeting gate safety requirements.

It is advised that your powered gates are installed by a professional to prevent accidents or injury, especially as these types of gates are reliant on an electrical supply to power the motors. Choosing which provider to go with can be tough however, it is always recommended that you choose a company that is bound by a Code of Practice and can meet current technical standards; we recommend choosing a DHF Automated Gate Group member.

Regardless of whether a client is commercial or residential, user instructions must be supplied so that the client is aware of how to maintain the gates.

Finally, laws are in place concerning supply. These laws detail information about the responsibility of the manufacturer to ensure that the powered gates are implemented in accordance with the Supply of Machinery Safety Regulations. These regulations take into account the environment as well as potential risks to safeguard your installation process.

How to Ensure Effective Maintenance of Powered Gates

To make sure that you are correctly maintaining your powered gates, refer to the user instructions that you were provided when you purchased your gate system. Dependent on the location of your gate, you will either be subject to health and safety laws or you will have continual responsibility to ensure that your gate is safe to anyone who may encounter it.

Be sure to perform regular checks on your gate. If component parts appear to need replacing, contact a professional to replace that part of your gate system. Some gate suppliers provide a maintenance and repair service which can be preventative or reactive dependent on your needs. These services are run by professional engineers who will assess the situation and take responsibility for leaving your gate in a safe condition.

How to report an unsafe gate

If you notice that a gate is unsafe or dangerous don’t simply ignore it, be sure to pass the matter on to the gate or site owner. If possible, put this into writing and include reasons as to why you believe the gate is unsafe so the owner can quickly resolve the issue.

If you wish to take the matter further by reporting to an authority, then the correct authority must be contacted. Powered gates that are in residential, agricultural, construction or industrial areas should be reported to the HSE. Commercial premises should be referred to the Local Authority Health Department and for private domestic premises, you should contact the local Trading Standards Service.

Discussing the matter of gate safety, Justin Earl, Managing Director of Portcullis Gate Automation said:

As a DHF accredited gate specialist, we take gate safety incredibly seriously. We think that the Gate Safety Week is an incredibly important time of the year and we wholeheartedly support DHF with their #SafeGatesSaveLives campaign.

“Too many people have been tragically affected by a lack of safety and compliance across the industry which is why we place the safety of gates at the top of our priority list.

Gate Safety Week is an annual awareness week, to find out more information please visit dhf.

Portcullis retains Liberty Living Ltd contract for another three years

Gates specialist, Portcullis Gate Automation Ltd, has been chosen as the mechanical perimeter security partner for Liberty Living Ltd for the next three years.
Liberty Living
Image from pexels

The national contract between Liberty Living and Portcullis was renewed following Portcullis’ ongoing maintenance and support to Liberty Living.

Moving forward, Portcullis will continue to provide planned preventative maintenance with a 24/7 call out facility for their gates, barriers, automatic doors and roller shutters. Together, Portcullis and Liberty Living will continue to prioritise student safety within Liberty Living’s accommodation.

Committed to providing Liberty Living with outstanding engineering support and customer service, Portcullis feels honoured to be chosen as the mechanical perimeter security partner to one of the leading UK private student accommodations providers.

Operating in 19 locations from Aberdeen to Southampton, Liberty Living Ltd functions across more than 55 sites. To date, Portcullis has enjoyed an amicable partnership with the prolific brand.

Commenting on the contract renewal, Justin Earl, Managing Director of Portcullis Gate Automation Ltd said:

“This is really gratifying news and a welcomed ‘pat on the back’ for the whole team at Portcullis from our helpdesk team to the front line engineering workforce.

“To be rewarded with the contract for a further three years emphasises that we doing things right. This is further evidenced by the fact that a client as prolific as Liberty Living Ltd has placed their trust in us for their perimeter security requirements.”

On the basis of the renewed contract, Portcullis confidently believes that they have found a sector of the market where they can truly add value to the client’s offering. Having been the mechanical perimeter security partner for more than three years, Portcullis understands the needs of this type of client and is looking forward to continuing to impact upon the student accommodation market.

Based on Portcullis’ ongoing success with Liberty Living Ltd, Portcullis believes that in the near future, this could be an area of the marketplace for concentration, allowing Portcullis to offer their wealth of experience to similar clients.

To find out how Portcullis can help you, why not contact us today?



Automatic vs Manual Gates: Which option is better?

Choosing the right gate can be challenging as there are many factors that should be taken into consideration. Whether you are seeking commercial gates or residential gates, one of the biggest decisions you will need to make is whether you need an automatic gate or a manual gate. Let’s take a look at the two options and the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Image from Pexels

If you are restricted by budget then a manual gate is likely to be the best option. Automatic gates are more costly as they require power and therefore will raise elevate your overall electricity bill! Additionally, the incorporation of technological features in automatic gates such as remote controls and keypads, bump up the price. Generally though, manual gates are much cheaper.

It may go without saying, but automatic gates offer increased security over manual gates owing to the increase in technology. With manual gates, once the lock is broken there is no barrier between your property and the outside world. With automatic gates, security features can be added such as key operated switches, sensors to detect cars or digital keypads that require input before opening. If budget isn’t a concern, then you can even make use of advanced technology such as voice or fingerprint recognition however, these will of course be much pricier than standard options.

With manual gates, a drawback is the lack of convenience. Of course, very small garden gates can be opened easily however, industrial gates will often require somebody to unlock them which can be troublesome. Automatic gates are beneficial in the fact that you can quickly allow somebody to enter or leave your premises while maintaining a high level of security adding to their convenience. On the flipside, automatic gates require a constant power supply and this can be particularly inconvenient for occurrences such as power cuts which could leave you locked in your own property!

The most obvious maintenance consideration is of course electricity supply. Automatic gates use motors to allow movement, therefore a consistent source of energy is required (this also impinges on the cost of these types of gates.) Be sure to regularly check the safety of your electric supply as well if you are using automatic gates, faulty wires or blown fuses all can inhibit the smooth operation of your gates and you don’t want to find yourself locked out or injured!

Other maintainability concerns are affected by the materials used. Wooden and metal gates can be affected by sun, rain and wind so will require constant nurturing – you can read about this in our recent post on how to protect your gates in different weather conditions.

We always recommend using a professional to install your gates but manual gates are easier than automatic gates which can be significantly difficult to install. Automatic gates need to be hooked up to the power supply but even an electrician should not install an automatic gate unless they have had specific gate training.

These factors should all be taken into account when deciding between an automatic or manual gate but if you are still uncertain, why not contact a Portcullis representative who can advise you further?

Weather Warnings: Protecting your gates from various weather conditions

Whether you’re choosing residential gates or commercial gates, the weatherability of the product should be a deciding factor. When it comes to weather warnings, most people forget the perils of strong weather on their gates. Here are our top tips for protecting your gates in any climate.

Sun and Heat
Sun may appear to be the optimum weather for your gates however, dependent on the materials used, sun can be harmful. Sun isn’t a prominent issue for automated gates however, it can cause trouble for those with wooden gates. Over time, wooden gates can fade as the sun acts as a natural bleach.

Heat can also cause issues, especially if the fence is very rigid and doesn’t allow for expansion and contraction. When subjected to prolonged heat or sun exposure, wood can weaken causing your beautiful gate to split or crack.

To combat potential damage from the sun’s harsh rays, we recommend using a high quality stain or oil. Using a stain once will not guarantee permanent protection, so be sure to treat your gate regularly before summer begins. We recommend using a high quality stain or oil and spending a day treating your fence allowing for time to dry.

Rain can have a negative impact on your gates whether they are wooden or metal. With wooden gates, moisture can soak into the permeable material causing it to swell, sag or even warp. Sometimes, rain can also cause minor holes which can expand if left untreated. Metal gates are not always impervious to rain. Iron gates for example, are notorious for rusting in the rain, so be sure to take the right steps to prevent your gates from degrading over time.

Small holes can be filled with putty which is readily available in many DIY stores. Simply block the hole with putty and allow to dry to prevent further damage from occurring. For metal gates it is ideal if you have chosen a gate made with a waterproof material however, don’t worry if you haven’t. As rust can be removed, some people will use a grinder but a drawback of a grinder is that it can take the paint with the rust! Instead, we recommend using a stiff wire brush to scrape away the rust.

Snow and Ice
Snow and ice can cause similar issues to rain damage. Wooden gates may be susceptible to warping when exposed to the moisture that makes up snow and ice. Cold temperatures can also cause metal to become brittle, while heavy snow can place pressure on gates causing a collapse.

We always advise choosing a strong and durable gate and having it installed professionally whenever possible. Use waterproof treatments prior to winter to reduce the damage and be sure to brush off snow as it piles high on your gate to reduce strain.

Strong winds
Strong winds can cause gates to twist, wobble or even tear away from their hinges so the material used for your gates is important. Choosing materials that are resistant to corrosion will help your gates to last longer. You should also choose a sturdy design and have it professionally installed to ensure that it won’t blow away next time there’s a gale. Use our gate builder to create a gate that suits your needs, or opt for a strong metal gate that won’t sag in the weather.

While these preventative measures should help you to protect your gates from extreme conditions, there is one final option. Here at Portcullis, we also offer a maintenance and repair service so if your gates are already damaged why not see if we can fix them?

Portcullis and Grand Designs’ Sussex House

Grand Designs Sussex House

Wilson King Architects, 2015 Grand Designs RIBA Finalist, contacted Portcullis Gate Automation Ltd in 2013 on behalf of Sussex House to carry out a detailed site survey to establish the clients exact needs for electric gates at their home.

The brief was for a contemporary gate entrance to the property that would sit and weather well within the landscape, and respond materially to the tree lined site and rural setting.

The main building was to sit within a separate fenced area with a secondary automatic gate to prevent the intrusion of the vast rabbit population that resides on the South Down’s.

The house is built to high environmental performance standards and was seen on Grand Designs.

Entrance fencing and gates at Sussex House.

The customer wanted the galvanized frame work to become a feature of the swing gates, clad inside and out, but allowing airflow through due to the openness of the surrounding area as the gates would be subject to high winds during bad weather.

Internal rabbit gates where installed to stop the large population of rabbits from entering the main house gardens, the gates had to remain within the machinery directive regulations but functional.

Portcullis Gate Automation Ltd have been a leading electric gate installer throughout the county of Sussex and the South East and nationally for many years.

We have Installed Residential Electric and Wooden Gates In Brighton, Domestic Automatic Gates In Horsham and Bespoke Designed Electric Metal Gates in Haywards Heath,

Benefits of using Portcullis Gates:

  • Three Year Warranty (subject to our Maintenance contract)
  • Free on site surveys
  • Cad drawing service
  • Local and national engineers
  • over 25 years trading

Any design of gate is possible but must comply with the HSE Machinery Directives. Portcullis Gate Automation Ltd  prides itself on being at the forefront of safety design, our specialist hinges and innovative product design reduce the need for safety edges allowing the natural design of the gate to shine through.


If you own a private residential property that has an electric gate and you rent out that property the electric gate installation is then considered in law to be a commercial gate. The health and safety compliance is then more relevant and involved. For help on this often overlooked, but very important topic, please do not hesitate to contact us or visit our designs.

Portcullis Gates Opens Leeds Branch

Portcullis Gates, Leeds Branch has recently moved to larger premises due to expansion within the branch.

Since the branch started trading in May 2014, carrying out electric gate repairs and safety upgrades throughout Yorkshire and beyond the business has grown rapidly.

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Bedfordshire University Gate Project

In January, Portcullis Gate Automation teamed up with Liberty Living to undertake an electric swing gate safety upgrade for Bedfordshire University.

Portcullis Gates Logo

This Bedford electric gate automation project was completed for a safety upgrade under gate compliance for the machinery directive.

Liberty Living, one of the countries largest student living accommodation specialists, contracted Portcullis Gate Automation to provide countrywide support to its ever expanding portfolio of electronic gates, barriers, auto doors, electric roller shutters and access control systems.

Bedfordshire University Gate Installation - Portcullis

The gate was re-made to eliminate the areas of entrapment and the automation was upgraded to provide load detection as well as resistive safety edges.

The posts were left in place to minimise disruption and the complete upgrade was finishing withing two working days