Security, data insights and sustainability
Entrance Control scores a hat-trick at the University of Birmingham’s Sport and Fitness Centre
Integrated Design Limited (IDL) and security integrators Alternative Systems Protection worked together to install a number of Fastlane turnstiles at the University of Birmingham’s Sport and Fitness centre.
Background to the project
The original Munrow Sports Centre, now demolished, opened in the 1960s. Inevitably, it became progressively outdated over time. Also, the university wanted a facility that could cater to the general public as well as serving students and staff. In May of 2017, a much bigger centre opened – called Sport and Fitness – at a new site.
Alternative Systems Protection (ASP) were chosen to oversee access and entrance control for the new facility and turned to IDL, manufacturers of Fastlane turnstiles, to provide the entrance control turnstiles.
“We’ve worked with ASP for many years, so they know us and our products well”, explained Phil Allen, Regional Sales Manager (UK & Eire) at IDL. “They’ve chosen Fastlane turnstiles for quite a number of customers including for instance Edinburgh Leisure and the University of Strathclyde Sports Centre. It’s great when we have these long-term partnerships where the other party just knows we can be trusted to do everything required.”
Entrance control in a complex environment
The new sports centre, which has expanded membership from 6,000 to 13,000 since opening, had some quite specific operational requirements. As well as centre members – who might be students, university staff or local residents – the Gladstone leisure management software needed to know about all student and university staff users.
“We have 56 student sports clubs – football, fencing, tennis, you name it”, explained Andy Aldridge, Sports Systems Manager at University of Birmingham. “A student football club might have access regardless of whether club members are centre members, but to showers and changing rooms only, not the gym or swimming pool.”
That meant turnstiles would be needed at reception, but also internally, controlling entrance to the gym, swimming pool and changing area so that only those with the correct memberships can gain access to certain areas.
The centre wanted to use the security system for more than just policing entry, however. “Data is my job,” Andy emphasised. “We have meetings every week, looking at the stats – we measure and monitor pretty much everything in order to optimise centre use.”
To make the most of the facility, the centre offered a more cost effective, off-peak only membership. But, being able to analyse the usage data, the centre has been able to progress this into more sophisticated membership offerings.
“If there are particular times that experience low use, we can create a membership that’s only available during those times and offer a special rate – on Tuesday and Wednesday between 4pm and 7pm – for example,” explained Andy. “This flattens the peak time.”
Data collection and traffic management
To do that, management needed to know exactly how long people were spending in different facilities, which meant requiring gym users, for example, to swipe out as well as in.
To ensure pedestrian traffic flows as smoothly as possible, exit from the centre is provided by separate barriers to the entrance, with the exit turnstiles generally opening with no card swipe; the key is to measure usage time of critical resources such as the gym or swimming pool, not the centre as a whole.
Security and sustainability
Overall, the sports centre manages a system involving 15 lanes of Glassgate 200 units, plus 2 lanes of Glassgate 400s at the swimming pool. “Our centre is huge,” said Andy, acknowledging the scale of the entrance control project.
In a large installation especially, another concern might be sustainability, and in particular energy usage. One benefit of Fastlane turnstiles which had not initially been appreciated is their low power consumption, which has been highlighted in recent times due to increasing energy costs. Fortunately, Fastlane turnstiles are low power units that use just 337 kilowatt-hours per year on average – less than one kWh per day.
Andy commented: “We’re in a totally different position six years on – everyone is much more concerned with power consumption and sustainability, so this is another tick for the Fastlane units.”
“Over the past 12 years, we’ve worked with IDL on numerous successful installs throughout the UK within leisure environments,” explained Derek Cardno from ASP. “When selecting an entrance control turnstile for a client operating in the leisure industry, we need to be sure the solution is reliable, robust, safe for use – especially for child entry* – and also has the capability to accommodate integrations such as footfall counting. IDL’s turnstiles tick all these boxes, so it was an obvious choice for the University of Birmingham and their wonderful new facility.”
To find out more about how the Fastlane range could help to secure your sports facility, please visit our contact page.
* smaller children and toddlers must be supervised
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