Preventing Damage From Vehicle Bollard
Bollards are short vertical posts, usually made of steel, typically used to prevent access and to protect pedestrians and assets from vehicle collision damage. In so doing, vehicles (and their passengers) that impact bollards face damage (and injury) due to the collision, as well as damage to the bollard structure itself. A new bollard system, known as SoftStop® in Europe and SlowStop® in the United States, solves this problem by allowing the bollard to give slightly upon collision, greatly reducing the maximum impact forces felt by both the colliding vehicle and the bollard system itself.
Bollards are used in a myriad of applications, for one of several purposes:
• Equipment Protection
• Utility Protection
• Building Protection
• Access Restriction
• Pedestrian Safety
One needs only to keep a sharp eye to see bollards around us every day. In parking lots, driveways, and drive-thru lanes, bollards are used to protect buildings, teller machines, utilities such as gas meters, electrical equipment and fire hydrants, handicap parking signs, gate entry keypads, and to restrict access to undesired areas. In factories and warehouses, bollards are important for protecting pedestrians as well as guarding storage racks and capital equipment from fork truck collisions. Other industries which find a heavy use of bollards include automated car wash facilities, self-storage facilities, gas stations and convenience stores, propane dispensing, and parking garages, among others
Foundation mounted bollards are typically installed in one of two ways. The first, least expensive way, is with a plate mounted bollard. These bollards are steel pipes welded to a flat steel plate that can be anchored to a hard surface using concrete anchors. This method of installation is quick and inexpensive, requiring the installer to drill four to eight holes in the concrete and bolt down the bollard with expansion or screw anchors. The downside to this installation method, when used with a rigid bollard, is that the anchors are generally not strong enough to withstand anything more than a minor collision. The plate anchors often are pulled up and possibly the plate bends, leaving a post which leans and is no longer able to properly serve its purpose. Plate mounted bollards often require constant maintenance and replacement. The second method for installing bollards involves using a longer steel pipe and burying a portion of it deep in the ground. This method gives the bollard far more strength than surface mounted, however it can be very expensive to install if the surface is concrete and already poured. Installation in this case requires coring a hole in the surface using an expensive diamond bladed coring saw. These machines and their blades are expensive and require water cooling, creating a mess during installation. Once the concrete is cored and the bollard is in place, the hole must be backfilled with concrete to secure the bollard. For added strength, these bollards are often filled with concrete, as well. Though the bollard pipe itself is relatively inexpensive, this installation method is costly and time consuming. Although very strong, there are significant disadvantages to core installations. Most importantly, there is no give to this system upon impact. Though desired in high security applications, any vehicle impacting such a bollard will be significantly damaged and its passengers at risk of injury. Loads carried by fork trucks can also be thrown given the jarring impact likely to occur. Further, the bollard or its foundation can be damaged by such an impact, again leaving a tilted and less effective barrier requiring costly maintenance to correct. Often the steel bollard itself is beyond repair and must be replaced with an entirely new bollard. Another disadvantage of this type of installation is that it is a permanent installation with little flexibility for movement. In factory applications, equipment is often moved and rearranged. Bollards used to protect equipment or storageracks which are core-installed are not easily moved. The concrete surrounding the bollard must be broken out and the large remaining hole filled, leaving a factory floor full of unsightly patches. If the bollard itself is reusable after removal, the entire expensive installation process is started over at the new location. Some designs have been created to attempt to solve these problems through the use of plastic or spring loaded bollards, however these designs suffer from a lack of strength. If the plastic is of insufficient stiffness, the entire function of access denial is lost. On the other hand, very stiff plastic designs have had difficulty with long term durability. Minor collisions tend to wear away at such devices, and in outdoor applications UV degradation becomes a concern.