A former boss of mine recently complained about the money spent on repeatedly replacing a gate for his business. When I asked him why he had to keep replacing it, he told me, “The drivers keep hitting it.” Since they’d never bothered with closing the gate when I worked for them, I asked him what changed. It turns out that they’d had a huge generator stolen off the property, and even though they’d constantly been losing small items over the years, the loss of this industrial generator had finally prompted them to start trying to take security seriously.
Of course, after the years of just shrugging off losses, no one was used to this, and tired drivers who just wanted get home were blocking the gate trying to remember which key to use. Meanwhile, the mechanics, clerks, and others who worked on site were waiting for hours for someone with a key to show up to get from one part of the property to the other. The thieves they were trying to stop were merely climbing over the fence or snipping the chain link to get themselves in and heavier items out. The problem is a common one. Chain link fencing for industrial sites often creates an obstacle for the people working there, but not for thieves trying to get in.
The Problems With Chain Link
The overwhelming majority of fencing on industrial sites is chain link. Its presence on every corner is how you know when you’ve wandered out of the entertainment area of a city and into the factory or warehouse area. Unfortunately, chain link is lousy at keeping the area it surrounds secure. One of the reasons is that chain link is incredibly climbable, with each individual link offering perfect hands and toeholds. Efforts to prevent climbing by adding barbed wire aren’t very effective. Thieves can bypass the barbed wire by throwing a sweatshirt or blanket over it, and if they have no reason to fear being overheard, they can actually pull the barbed wire off the fence by pulling on the fabric. Barbed wire-topped fences also have the nasty side effect of making your employees feel like they’re imprisoned.
One of the reasons that chain link fence is so prevalent is because it’s cheap, and it’s cheap because it’s simple. Chain link requires no specialized tools to work with and can be assembled or disassembled with tools that can be slipped into a pocket. This means that thieves can dismount security features with a pair of small crescent wrenches that retail for $7 at the auto parts store. Also, since the material that makes up most of a chain link fence is narrow wire, those that want to bypass the whole thing can do so quietly with an inexpensive wire cutter. If you’re trying to protect a $5,000 dollar generator, this is a problem. Chain link fences stop being so cheap if you have to pay to repair them over and over again, or if you have to pay to replace stolen equipment.
Better Fencing for Industrial Sites
There are plenty of fencing materials, but not all are suitable for an industrial site. Fencing that’s used for residences isn’t usually sufficient, especially if security is a concern. Aluminum and vinyl are too weak, and wood starts out strong, but over time rots and becomes easy to bypass. That leaves steel as the best metal of choice from both a durability and security perspective. Fencing that actually secures the property needs to be solid. It cannot be easy to remove or knock down whole sections of the fence, and it definitely can’t be easy to do so quietly. That’s why most of my clients are moving toward using only steel fencing around their properties. Here are the benefits I’ve seen steel fencing provide:
- It’s difficult to cut or break: In comparison to chain link, vertical steel pickets welded to, or going through the rail are much harder to remove. In quality fences, the top and bottom rails aren’t completely hollow. Inside there is a lock rail that adds extra rigidity and keeps the pickets locked securely in place. The extra weight and rigidity also make steel panel fences a hazard to vehicles that might attempt to drive through the fence. This is a necessary worry when thousands of dollars of industrial equipment is on the line.
- It’s difficult to climb: Secure fencing for an industrial property also needs to deter climbing. Steel fencing does a good job of this because the top and bottom rails of a typical steel fence are far enough apart that it isn’t easy to step from the top to the bottom rail. Higher fencing that is purpose-built for security makes this impossible. The ornamental spear-like tops on most steel fences actually do impede vaulting thieves—those that are fit enough to seize the top rail and launch their whole bodies over—but options to add pickets that go higher over the top rail and curve outward are available and are actually more effective than barbed wire. They’re also easier on the eyes than barbed wire and let people that are supposed to be on the property feel protected rather than imprisoned. Another low maintenance fence option is an iron and wood security fence that has steel structural support and wood for privacy, hiding your equipment from the eyes of ne’er-do-wells.
- It uses an integrated security lock: The biggest vulnerability for any fence, or any structure for that matter, is its entry point. Anyone who has ever lived in a gated community has seen the gates stand open for a period of time because the motor or another part broke down and the gate repair people couldn’t get out there right away to repair it. When fencing for a residential development breaks down it can be bad–it might result in car break-ins or the theft of lawn equipment. On an industrial site, though, the result can be the loss of tools and materials needed to complete jobs or orders. Padlocks are the default choice to secure most fence gates, but anyone who has ever worked around combination locks knows that they can be bashed apart with a hammer. Even if you use a heavier lock, the chain it holds is still vulnerable to cutting. Where a lock on a chain link fence is merely an expensive decoration–since the fence itself can easily be cut–steel panel gates offer the option of an integrated security lock. Steel gates are also usually available in one piece, which prevents them from popping open when someone tries to ram through them.
Securing your business, the property it stands on, and the equipment you use to build and thrive is a vital priority and needs to be done effectively. It is also important to do so while not alienating potential customers or making your staff feel imprisoned. Steel panel security fences are rising in popularity for a reason. They fulfill all of the above criteria while looking professional–and, dare I say, elegant.
Steel fencing is fast becoming the material of choice for any property that needs extra security–not just industrial work sites, but schools, housing communities, and public areas too. Fortress Fence produces commercial and industrial fencing that is well engineered with fully welded steel panels to secure your property, as well as estate fencing that provides the strength of steel while blocking prying eyes. These fencing systems are protected by a zinc precoat, an e-coat, and a powder coat that keep moisture and UV rays from affecting the metal and damaging the security or aesthetic appeal of the fence. If your business is in need of other high-quality products like railings and decking, take a look at the rest of Fortress’ building products.