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Bollards | Protection against vehicles

Bollards are an essential part of industrial security. They are “short and sturdy vertical posts”, that can be installed in industrial buildings, pedestrian paths, or parking lots.

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Its function is to act as a protective barrier to ensure that neither the facilities nor the pedestrians are damaged or hurt by the impact of vehicles or moving objects.

Interior bollard
Interior bollard | BECOSAN®

Perhaps you may know them more for being used in ports to tie up boats, as this is what they were originally invented for this.

However, this useful and resistant tool can be seen anywhere:

  • Industrial warehouses
  • Hospitals
  • Shops
  • Parking lots
  • Etc.

They are a protection system that is part of our day to day, used in many places, and being very useful to protect industrial racks and shelving.

These structures are not only decorative because they can also be used in industrial facilities to protect structures by stopping impacts from large vehicles, etc.

In this article, we are going to explain how they are installed and what types of bollards exist.

Bollard installation

Bollards are really easy to install. 98% of these are embedded or screwed into the ground.

However, the best alternative is the first option. This is because it is the only way that can guarantee absolute sturdiness.

Also, it is the best alternative to withstand strong impacts from vehicles and, in addition, guarantees their retention.

There is a type of bollard, security bollards, that can only be installed by being embedded into the ground.

However, sometimes, due to the installations such as gas, electricity, and communications, bollards cannot be embedded into the ground because they require a lot of depth. This sometimes may cause breakages and damage.

Types of bollards

Within the classification of types of bollards, we are going to distinguish them by material and by function.

Types of bollards differentiated by materials

Bollards can be made out of many and varied materials.

The material we chose will depend on the bollard’s use and where it is going to be installed.

Plastic bollards

Usually made of EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate), they are intended to visually separate high-speed traffic zones.

Its intention is mainly signaling, since, in the event of a vehicle impact, they must cause the least damage/destruction possible.

They are designed with very striking colours and generally have reflective horizontal bands.

Fixed parking bollard
Fixed parking bollard | BECOSAN®

Concrete bollards

Generally made out of granite or out of marble if a higher quality is desired.

They are widely used by architects and landscapers since they can be considered decorative elements and high-quality features providing a unique and personalized touch.

They can have all sorts of different shapes: geometric, spheres, slender, etc. To create them, a paste is poured into moulds which are normally made of steel.

Concrete bollards
Concrete bollards | BECOSAN®

The limitations and shapes are determined by their geometry. They cannot present any kind of imperfection in shape or thickness.

As we mentioned before, concrete bollards are installed to build a unique space and create a visual impact.

Usually, they are gray or white, mostly defined by the cement that is used.

Aluminum bollards

They have more of a decorative purpose and less complex shapes. The only requirement, which in theory should be applied to all types of bollards, is that they cannot have any imperfections.

They are cheaper than other types of bollards and if they need to be repaired, don’t think twice about it: change it for a new one.

Spacer bollard
Spacer bollard | BECOSAN®

When manufacturing aluminum bollards, a series of 4,000 to 5,000 units are usually made, so they can be considered to be less unique.

Aluminum bollards are widely used in ports and are very resistant to dog urine, so if you need to install them in your urbanization and there are a lot of dogs, don’t hesitate on using them.

Steel bollards

They are the best value for money and the most commonly used in cities.

Usually made out of a steel tube and a welded cap at one end, which will be the visual part, the rest is embedded into the ground.

To avoid them rusting over the years, they must first be galvanized and then painted.

There are also versions in stainless steel, and at BECOSAN® we recommend choosing the AISI 316 version for coastal areas and the AISI 304 for interior spaces.

Bollard types by function

Now that we defined the different materials a bollard can be made from, the following classification will be focused on a bollard’s specific function, as well as its installation.

Retractable bollard

Retractable bollards are ideal for limiting access to a pedestrian zone, but also allowing residents of an urbanization or public administration services such as firefighters, cranes, or police to enter the area easily.

They are usually have incorporated a remote automatic operating system, in which it is not necessary to get out of the car or vehicle to activate it.

Fixed bollards

They can be mounted onto the existing concrete surface or new concrete can be poured for its installation.

The bollards are designed to be attached with their own mounting system, which is minimally invasive since you only have to drill into the concrete and anchor with inserts or epoxy resin.

Resistant bollard
Resistant bollard | BECOSAN®

These bollards can be used merely as visual deterrents, or for aesthetic purposes, as they offer little resistance to impact.

However, if you want a fixed bollard to protect against impact, it can always be embedded at a depth of several meters, as long as the ground conditions allow it.

Removable bollards

Fixed bollards can be prepared to be removable by adding a galvanized base.

If the bollard is removed from the surface, there is a plug to cover that gap that it leaves and to avoid any possible accidents that may be caused by the hole if left covered. They are very stable.

Ram-raid bollards

There is a well-known type of burglary that is called ram-raiding.

This technique consists of stealing a vehicle and crashing it into the front of a shop window.

This is a rather noisy type of robbery, but if you act quickly, thieves can steal a significant amount.

In those cases, it’s very important to have an activated alarm and neighbour’s help.

These robberies are usually carried out in small shops that sell high-value objects, such as jewelry or watches.

To prevent this kind of theft, the installation of ram-raid bollards, right in front of shop windows, has become popular and, on many occasions, it has been a success since these bollards are very good and resistant compared to common vehicles.

Anti-terrorist bollards

Some recent terrorist attacks in Europe have raised the alarm with the authorities.

Although there is no common solution, what is usually done is to install planters, benches, and bollards of high resistance and enormous dimensions, to act as an architectural barrier.

These shapes are taken to give a more subtle and decorative touch to something very important to guarantee the safety of citizens.

Bollards as an element of citizen security

In line with the above, if what we want is to make sure that bollards can act as a security element, an embedded bollard installation must be carried out.

It is the only way to prevent the entry of vehicles on public pedestrian roads. The resistance of the bollard depends on two fundamental factors: how it’s anchored to the ground and its geometry.

Anchoring to the ground

As we have mentioned on several occasions, embedded bollards guarantee a better anchorage against an impact than a bolted one.

Screws, although they are very strong, deep, and thick, will never offer as much resistance as an embedded bollard.

Bollards anchored with screw
Bollards anchored with screw | BECOSAN®

For a good embedment, it is essential to assess the quality of the soil in which it will be embedded. It is not the same to embed a bollard on rock than on the sandy ground.

The rock will withstand impacts and the kinetic force of vehicles

If you have any doubts about which of the two installation methods to choose in your industrial facility, at BECOSAN® we are very clear about it: embedded bollards.

Geometry

Geometry becomes essential to ensure the bollard’s retention capacity.

For example, its height. The higher the bollard, the greater its retention capacity. Being 50 centimeters high would be enough to stop a car at a speed of 40 km/h or less. If the speed were higher, the car could exceed the bollard.

But, of course, if we are talking about trucks or vans, that height is insufficient. To offer minimum security, we would have to use bollards which are a meter high.

Different types of bollards
Different types of bollards | BECOSAN®

Another important geometric factor to measure the strength of a bollard is its section.

For example, if it is circular, regardless of the angle from which it collides, it offers a similar resistance.

But, if it is square, it has greater resistance if the attack is orthogonal.

More industrial protection elements

As we have said before, bollards are an element of industrial protection used on the interior and exterior of an industrial building.

Bollards are an essential part of internal logistics, defining what zones are for vehicle transit and which are inaccessible to them, offering safety to pedestrian workers.

Industrial safety and protection are also provided by other elements that must be taken into account. They are the following:

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