Company Adapts Familiar Technology to Modern Post 9/11 Security Issues
Vol 21 No 4
Security and routine operations at most plants and refineries are often at cross purposes. Efficiency demands that workers have quick access to all areas of the facility whenever necessary. However, leaving entrances unguarded is simply not an option in post-9/11 America.
Reno A&E has taken technology familiar to most Americans and adapted it into a security solution. They developed inductive loop technology in the 1960s as a means to acquire vehicle count information needed to vary the timing of traffic signals, said Thomas R. Potter, company president.
"We've developed a device in which a low frequency signal is coupled with a device mounted on the vehicle by means of an inductive loop coil buried in the ground," Potter said. "It's a digitally encoded signal that, when recognized, is outputted to a recognizing device that can be used to control a gate or an overhead door."
Unless the code is accepted, access is denied to the vehicle. This adds a new layer of security for the most sensitive areas of the industrial facility.
Reno A&E, based in Reno, NV, introduced the first programmable digital loop system in the mid-1990s. Its products are widely used in vehicle detection systems that monitor traffic control and controlled parking.
"It's been in service in the Las Vegas Valley for more than 15 years," Potter said. "The same technology is used in Los Angeles for their rapid bus system so they can track the buses through intersections and modify signal timing to help buses that run behind schedule." Industry can use the system to monitor contract and company vehicle traffic.
An inductive loop vehicle detection system consists of two parts: an inductive loop and a detector module. An inductive loop is a wire usually wound in a rectangular or square shape that is typically placed in the pavement. The ends of the wire are brought back to an enclosure that houses the detector module. An oscillator in the module powers the loop, causing a magnetic field tuned to a resonant frequency. The detector monitors this frequency to determine if a vehicle is in the loop area.
To trigger the loop, a device is bolted to the frame of the vehicle that emits the encoded signal, Potter said.
"It typically operates at 12 volts and is connected to the vehicle's electrical system," he said. "It can be controlled by a switch on the dashboard or operated continually, depending on the application."
In addition to granting or denying access, the system uses Windows-based software to keep a log of who was admitted to and left the facility and when.
"Say you have a pump station where transport trucks are downloading in remote areas," Potter said. "You can put this device on the vehicles and use it to unlock the pump so only authorized vehicles have access. The applications are limited only by ones imagination."
Municipal fire departments use the Reno A&E device as a means to pre-empt traffic signals when leaving the station on an emergency, he said.
"It provides an excellent, reliable, trouble free method of identifying specific vehicles," Potter said. In our post 9/11 era when it's critical to control plant and remote facility access with limited manpower, this technology can be your best friend