Laurence Goode, Chairman of the Perimeter Security Suppliers Association (PSSA) is optimistic about what has been achieved with hostile vehicle migitation (HVM) since the PSSA was formed. As well he might be. An HVM Product Verification Scheme has been launched successfully, a security fencing pilot is underway and a further module for product installation is expected to go live by the end of 2013 (for an update on the PSSA Scheme, see page 19 of this issue of Counter Terror Business).
Goode also notes that: “The understanding and the development of high impact HVM products has seen a lot of testing and development in recent years.” As a result, there are many innovative new products meeting the PAS 68 standard for impact resistance.
New PAS 68-compliant products is good news for customers, as it gives them more choice. That said, Goode nevertheless identifies a clear and present danger for the buyers of PAS 68 rated products. “The problem is that the customers for these products might mistakenly assume that compliance with the standard means that the product is automatically ‘fit for purpose’,” he says. This is not necessarily the case.
“Though a successful impact test has taken place,” explains Goode, “it doesn’t verify that the product you buy is the same as the product that was tested. Nor that it has been installed in the same way.” Customers for these products need to be clear that the PAS 68 rating only tells them that a product has been given a crash rating, which might well be one of the criteria that a specifier is looking for. But the PAS 68 designation alone says very little about a product’s reliability, longevity, serviceability or safety.
This is a theme picked up by Gerry Cowan, Managing Director of Cova Security Gates. “A PSSA HVM certified product” he points out, “will have been verified against a range of criteria – and this makes a huge difference. It means an independent audit has been carried out in a very holistic way, rather than just meeting the crash rated criteria.” In other words, a PSSA Certified product will meet the durability and reliability criteria that customers want in a way that can’t be assumed with PAS 68 alone. To avoid poor product performance, the message is: HVM customers need to look for PSSA Certified products.
However, as noted above, the PSSA Scheme for HVM product installation is only just nearing launch. In the meantime, customers need to pay a lot of attention to how the products they buy are being installed. This is a crucial component of how the product will perform. “Incorrect installation,” says Gerry Cowan, “calls the security effectiveness of a product into question.”
As a supplier with PSSA verified products, Cowan believes that products should always be designed for easy installation at all types of sites and locations in the first place. Moreover, he points out that manufacturers are responsible for providing comprehensive installation instructions. “Most manufacturers,” he notes, “don’t install their own products.” PSSA members nevertheless try hard to ensure the correct installation happens. “What we aim for is to offer a service to partially install or supervise the early part of an installation.” Some PSSA member companies will also invite customers in for installation training. The aim is to encourage correct installation, but ultimately if customers want to install themselves, they have installation instructions and hopefully are competent enough to do it correctly.
Well, in theory at least. But in real life there are plenty of installation horror stories. Have you heard the one about the bollards that were put in too deep, or perhaps so far apart that a vehicle can be driven between them? Or what about the barrier that faces the wrong way because, cleverly, someone noticed they were on a one-way street, and terrorists would never dream of driving the wrong way down a one-way street, would they?
Meanwhile a key component of installation is the foundations. These too need very careful consideration. Gerry Cowan sees this as one of the major errors customers, or their installers, can make. He notes that one of the critical things about PAS 68 is that manufacturers are required to submit detailed foundation drawings when a product is being tested. Indeed the foundation specification is part of the test and the test report includes a section on the condition of the foundations after impact.
Yet despite the importance of foundations it’s not unknown for customers to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on say hundreds of bollards, and then install them in such a way that they are not fit for purpose, simply because the foundation spec was ignored. And it’s far from unknown for customers to hire security consultants who are never invited back to check on an installation, either during or after it has taken place.
“And of course once these things are in the ground,” adds Cowan, “with paving slabs over the top it’s not evident that it’s incorrect – unless you have something like a gap which everyone can see.” That’s why customers have to insist that their contractors or their own installation people follow the installation requirements, chapter and verse.
Indeed installation requirements ought really to be part of an integrated, holistic approach. “A general view across the industry,” says Laurence Goode, “is that the most critical factor determining the success of a high security perimeter system is whether it started out with a properly specified Operational Requirements document.”
This needs to have considered every facet of the site’s operation, including not only threat types, levels and possible responses, but abnormal situations such as unexpected equipment failures, and post incident scenarios when resources and attention are displaced from normal areas and duties. It needs to consider as well how to fully integrate perimeter security equipment within all the other site security procedures and provisions such as lighting, and CCTV. As well, the electrical and operational requirements of HVM products need to be folded into the requirements for the whole site.
Bear in mind too that once an HVM product is installed, it must be correctly maintained. Post-installation activities are hugely important. Goode notes that an appropriate servicing regime based on the specific equipment, its usage levels and site conditions is a good starting point. Cowan agrees. “The emphasis should always be on having a planned maintenance programme,” he says. A regular maintenance regime will ensure that the HVM product continues to perform as intended over a long life cycle. Cowan says that quality HVM products are built to last at least 25 years as long as they are properly maintained. He adds: “In the industry I’m afraid there are products, probably still far too many, that while they have a crash rating, they’re not particularly effective or efficient when it comes to maintenance and longevity.”
Safe not sorry
Last, but very much not least, safety has to be a major issue, especially in the light of some recent tragedies. In 2010, for example, two girls aged five and six, and a nine-year old boy, were crushed to death in the UK by electric gates, in separate incidents. In March 2013, a 40 year-old man made his first appearance before magistrates charged with manslaughter by gross negligence over one of these deaths. Really high on the list of what customers don’t want from HVM is nightmares like this.
All automated gates and barriers need to comply with the relevant legislation, including machinery and electrical safety regulations. And remember that the location of an HVM product is very important in H&S regulation. For instance a gate which is only used by trained users and where there is no access by members of the public is treated differently from a gate which is in contact with the general public.
Particularly with the latter, there will be an almost inevitable conflict between safety and security. But that’s not to say that the obligations of the installer aren’t clear – and by the way, the responsibility in law does rest with the installer. “Any product that is hinged or sliding that can provide crushing, pulling in points, or shearing points,” says Cowan, “represents a huge risk, so you have to provide that level of safety. Just because it’s a high security product, it doesn’t in any way allow you to abdicate your responsibility for safety.”
In summary, what can still go wrong with HVM includes issues with installation and foundations, and with maintenance and safety. These can largely be avoided however when the customer has more understanding of what HVM involves; and particularly when they opt for HVM products which are PSSA Verified.
The impact test standards
There are currently four vehicle security barrier impact test standards, with a fifth international standard expected before the end of 2013.
PAS 68:2010, the UK Publically Available Specification that specifies impact testing methods and performance criteria is currently being revised. PAS 68:2013 will include updated supporting references and classification codes, and an updated list of test vehicles. It will also align better with the European standard, CWA 16221:2010 (see below).
PAS 69:2006 gives detailed guidance on the selection, installation and use of vehicle security barrier systems. It’s also in revision. PAS 69:2013 will include significant updates and additional guidance based on the latest thinking of the UK government and the security industry.
CWA 16221:2010 is a European CEN Working Agreement that essentially combines the details from PASs 68 and 69. No revisions are currently planned.
ASTM F2656-07 is a US standard that provides a procedure to establish a penetration rating for perimeter barriers subjected to a vehicle impact. It’s due to be revised in the next year or two.
Finally, we expect the publication this year of an as yet unnumbered International Standards Organization International Workshop Agreement standard. This ISO IWA will bring together the elements in PAS 68, PAS 69 and ASTM F2656 to produce a common, internationally agreed methodology and terminology that can be used in the global marketplace. Early indications suggest this will be widely adopted..