7 Top Tips for Maintaining Automatic Gates (Pre-Winter)
With winter just around the corner it is important to make sure that your automatic gates work consistently, smoothly, and reliably. The best time to do this is at least one month before those first frosts kick in (often May in Hamilton).
Murphy’s Law would tend to indicate that neglecting to maintain your automatic gates and get them ready for winter will guarantee gate failures will occur as soon as torrential rain and gale force winds hit.
Preventative Maintenance can be time consuming and sometimes it will feel unnecessary. However, the US Department of Energy states that:
“there is little doubt that many facilities purely reliant on reactive maintenance could save much more than 18% by instituting a proper preventive maintenance program.”
Leading US computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) provider MaintainX identifies four categories of PM:
- Periodic Maintenance includes tasks performed at scheduled intervals
- Meter-based Maintenance based on equipment meters and
- Predictive Maintenance relies on sensor devices and data analysis tools
- Prescriptive Maintenance based on machine learning algorithms
This article is primarily concerned with periodic maintenance, although it is related to gate open rates.
Follow our guide for making sure you don’t get caught out in the rain this winter.
1. Schedule Maintenance Intervals
How frequently you service your automatic gates will depend on how much work it gets. The gate will need to be maintained more frequently when it is used more often.
Heavy duty automatic gates with high traffic volumes at industrial sites will benefit from monthly inspections and maintenance. On the other hand, lower traffic gates that have 20-50 opening per day will only need to be inspected and maintained twice per year, usually in time of the major seasonal and weather changes.
When considering maintenance intervals, you should take note of:
- Manufacturer’s guidelines and recommendations
- Historical maintenance data
- Feedback from users and operators
2. Create a Checklist
Rather than relying on memory or caffeine to help complete a thorough inspection, create a checklist. This will also make it more likely that the inspection is carried out consistently regardless of who is doing it. This is especially important when experiencing staff changes. You could use a traditional checklist or include the automatic gates in the organisation’s maintenance app.
There are many things to be included on your checklist, including:
- Electrical connections
- Manual release is operating correctly
- State of wear of the mechanical parts
- Obstacle detection and auto reverse
- Control and safety functions
- Manual override
- Backup power
The key to a good checklist is having an obvious way to highlight any items that need a follow up response. This could be replacing a faulty part, removing rust, or requesting technical assistance from the supplier.
Create a mechanism to ensure timely completion, follow up, and sign off.
Make sure that the checklists are completed thoroughly and accurately, and that they are stored correctly for future reference. Maintenance records could be key for warrantee or fault claims. For this reason, it is probably sensible for a supervisor to scan the results and sign off on the record when it is complete.
Here are some tips on how to make a great maintenance schedule:
3. Remove Autumn Leaves
Even with the significant number of evergreen trees in New Zealand, there will still be a large amount of leaves on the ground following Autumn. This debris can clog sliding automatic gate tracks and cause reliability issues. Further, as the leaves break down and the winds come up, leaf matter can get into rollers, hinges, and control boxes. If piles of leaves remain on the ground, the dampness can contribute to rust, pests will make new homes, and electrical connections may be compromised.
Checking and cleaning this debris on a regular basis will keep your automatic gates working in the winter months.
Make sure that drainage holes are kept clear. When you are washing the gate, watch to see how quickly the water drains away. A change in the rate of drainage may indicate a blockage that you need to attend to.
4. Clean it like a Mercedes
You never notice dents or scratches on your car until you clean it! It’s the same with your automatic gate. Cleaning it on a regular basis is the best way to discover what needs attention.
As the materials and finishes used on automatic gates have improved in recent years, water (possibly with mild detergent) is often all that is required to keep your gate clean. You will be surprised how much dust and grime settles on your gate, especially if it is near a busy road or industrial sites.
Wipe or scrub every surface by hand so that you can identify flaky paint, rust, vandalism, or other problems that need addressing. Rinse everything very well so that the mild chemicals do not remain, then allow to dry completely.
Be careful not to aim pressurised water directly at electrical or mechanical components or to spray up underneath them. This may cause water to get into these components and prevent your gate from operating.
Depending on the materials used, a protective coating (wax) may be applied to protect the gate from UV rays and other weather damage.
5. Service Photocells and Casing
It is obvious that the photocells need cleaning on the outside. What might not be so obvious is that they attract slugs and snails. Also, the casings make good homes for insects like ants, spiders or wasps.
Preventative maintenance prior to winter will ensure that insects and other pests do not compromise electrical connections and circuit boards.
Keep an eye on any seals and ensure that they are in good condition. If you suspect some bugs may have taken up residence, have your gate serviced before it begins to malfunction.
Your automatic gate should move smoothly, freely and without friction. Your technical manual will indicate how, where, when and what you should lubricate your automatic gates with. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions in case you need their assistance with a warranty or fault.
Some automatic gates have special seals that reduce the need for lubrication. However, there will almost always be wheels or hinges that need grease from time to time. Either way, you should check that your gate is moving freely on a regular basis.
Sometimes weather extremes will have an impact on the need for lubrication. If the summer is hotter or dryer than normal, any lubricants may break down or dry up. You will want to address this as winter approaches, so that your gate opens and closes when you most need it to.
At the other end of the year, winter can be very harsh and so you will need to ensure that your lubricant can handle very cold temperatures.
Avoid the use of petroleum-based lubricants as they will attract dust.
When you have finished, manually check that all nuts and screws are tightened correctly, and that the gate slides or opens evenly and without friction.
7. Professional Service
Finally, this is a great time to get your gate professionally serviced on-site. While there is a lot of maintenance that you can do on your automatic gates, there are also mounting, alignment and mechanical issues that should be maintained by a trained service team.
The other advantage of an on-site maintenance check is that the professionals can let you know where they see problems emerging and address them before they cause you problems and money!
Automatic gates add so much value and protection to your property. Preventative maintenance will go a long way to ensuring that your investment returns value over a long period of time.
For more information, call us today: 07 849 0901
Our skilled team of engineers and technicians at ARC have been providing integrated system solutions for businesses and homes, including automatic gates, in Hamilton and around the Waikato since May 1994. Whether you need an automated gate, a security alarm system, intercom, security camera (CCTV) system, access control, home theatre, audio visual system, feature lighting, electrical work, or to integrate these systems together using an easy-to-use automation solution for your convenience and enjoyment, we can design a custom solution for you.