Few competitors in the safety barrier field test their products to the extent that A-Safe does in order to protect both its image of excellence and, the image of British manufacturing at its very best. A recent filming day at the A-Safe factory complex in Halifax most visibly demonstrated this. Filming at the innovative polymer safety barrier company took place to showcase the importance that industry has always played in the growth of the UK economy. At the heart of the programme for A-Safe, was the demonstration depicting the strength of the polymer barrier, set against the equivalent barrier manufactured from steel.
All of the A-Safe product range is tested, but particularly the barriers that segregate and protect pedestrians from vehicles, or vehicles from ancillaries and vital equipment within the working environment, be it a factory floor, logistics warehouse, airport complex or a car park and any other situation where the safety of workers and assets is paramount. The testing is done under rigorous conditions with results calibrated. Certificated results can be simulated in the worst case scenario of a 90o impact. There are only two official standards for safety barriers and both refer to the specification for car parks: BS 6399-1 and BS6180. All A-Safe barriers including their own ‘armco’ barrier have passed this test.
In the A-Safe factory there are two impact calibration rigs; one, a dynamic pendulum impact simulator and one a static constant force simulator. The other very visible and maybe unorthodox method is to erect barriers and, under controlled safety conditions, bash them with a fork lift truck (FLT).
On the day in review, all three tests were carried out as well as filming in general to show the end-to-end manufacturing process. This involved a direct comparison between the A-Safe polymer barrier and its steel counterpart.
The dynamic rig tested in turn the A-Safe Traffic Barrier and steel ‘armco’. The polymer barrier took six hits in succession without any real discernable damage. The steel barrier lasted for three hits before Abdul Mukith, A-Safe’s product Development Manager, also in charge of health and safety, advised it too dangerous to allow further impacts, as the barrier had buckled and the bolts were failing. Similarly, the Pedestrian Barrier was tested next. The A-Safe version was filmed with four hits and just slightly bent, the steel handrail equivalent snapped on immediate impact and went flying, shocking everyone.
The static constant force showed an increasing heavy load on the polymer Traffic Barrier; the equivalent of up to 152 kN. On release this returned to its normal condition. A steel barrier would buckle without returning and would need replacing.
A run of A-Safe Traffic barrier was erected on a safe part of the factory floor. Under stringent and controlled conditions, several hits were made with a 3.5 tonne Nissan FLT both at an angle and at 900 to try and simulate real working conditions. There was a slight bend to one of the legs only. In turn, the test was repeated fitting a run of armco steel barrier, albeit bolted to the floor with an A-Safe specification bolt system. Similar hits showed severe damage to the steel barrier, although it did not fail completely and the base plate was badly distorted.
The day of filming was primarily about the excellence of UK manufacturing, with A-Safe being deemed a classic and shining example. What was clearly demonstrated and documented, is the superiority of the flexible A-Safe polymer barriers over rigid steel.