The principles of effective barrier protection
03 August 2015
It has been over 10 years since A-SAFE introduced a polymer-based barrier system to challenge steel barriers. What principles have made this approach a success?
The same principles that set new standards in barrier protection a decade ago, remain in place today – albeit with added innovations. In essence, it’s a simple protection process based around three basic functions: flex, absorb, reform.
A rigid barrier, such as steel, has no flex. When it is hit by a workplace vehicle the barrier will crumple, sending impact forces downwards into the fixtures, ripping out the barrier from the floor, damaging the impacting vehicle and leaving a costly floor repair bill.
A-SAFE’s flexible barriers are made from an exclusive material called Memaplex, a blend of polymer and rubber that, like steel, is strong and robust, but unlike steel is capable of flexing on impact. This flex dissipates impact forces throughout the barrier’s material, prevents 80% of the forces from travelling to the floor and minimises any damage to the barrier itself, the impacting vehicle and the substrate.
Dissipation of forces through the barrier system relies on the impact absorbance properties of Memaplex and the premium design build of the barrier itself. Every mould, curve and fixing is designed, researched and tested to absorb impact forces and prevent them from reaching the floor fixings.
A-SAFE has a scientific approach to safety, which includes an in-depth understanding of the potential impact energies of all workplace vehicles, from heavy duty forklifts, to hand-operated pallet trucks. Because every facility has different moving equipment operating within a unique layout, each with differing potential speeds, loads and angles of impact, all these factors need to be analysed and understood. Then, and only then, can fully tested barriers that are truly fit-for-purpose and capable of absorbing the types of impacts in each facility be installed.
Following impacts from workplace vehicles, A-SAFE barriers are able to reform to their original shape. This transformative feature is a result of the unique manufacturing process of Memaplex, where the ingredients’ molecular structure is stretched, providing an in-built ‘memory’ which gives the barriers the capacity to reform post-impact.
This reformation process means that after impacts the barriers remain intact, with no need for replacements and the ability to withstand further impacts – and through this, the ongoing safety of the facility is maintained.
A-SAFE’s barriers will manage impacts in the workplace, but it is important to remember that they also prevent them.
From the barriers’ basic high visibility, to A-SAFE’s in-depth traffic management process that puts segregation of workplace vehicles from pedestrians at its core, A-SAFE are able to deliver industrial workplaces the accident prevention they require and the protection of personnel, equipment and vital structures that is essential.
Over the years, A-SAFE has added innovations on top of the core function of the barriers. Minimal maintenance (no scratching, no need for repainting, non-corrosive), freezer grade options and special systems for airports and car parks are already standard.
With the new iFlex range, A-SAFE posts are 400% stronger and rails 60% stronger, allowing rails lengths to be increased by 50% without losing strength. A multi-directional capability means barriers can be installed more efficiently around a facility’s layout. A joint-less exterior with hygiene seals ensures dirt, dust and debris cannot collect inside the barriers – a massive boost for the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries.
An improved modularity ensures rails and posts can be replaced without needing to uproot a whole barrier run, saving large amounts of manpower and downtime. Plus, other additions such as deflective spinning collars, countersunk fixings and an improved cylindrical aesthetic all contribute towards an improvement on an already world leading system, that offers a fast and permanent return on investment.