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Latches designed to offer protection against vandals

21st February 2013


<p>Public buildings, outside facilities and facades frequently are victims of unmotivated destruction. For example, annual vandalism against the German Railroad equated to &pound;37.2/E50million and the trend is intensifying.&nbsp;</p><p>This increasing phenomenon stems from rising copper prices which are causing a spike in copper theft. Free-standing junction boxes or telecom network boxes are inviting targets for criminals. Even though no large amounts of copper are being used, the destruction and service interruption are significant, with considerable financial implications.&nbsp;</p><p>According to a recent press release from Central Networks, the electricity distribution company for Central England, &lsquo;copper theft over the past two months across the Midlands is causing problems for thousands of customers and potentially putting lives at risk&rsquo;.&nbsp;</p><p>Nearly everyone is aware that vandalism and copper-theft are the result of social problems and global economical structural changes. For vandals, network boxes, transformer stations and other publicly located distribution equipment are easy prey. Enclosures are easily accessible and are rarely secured, so offenders usually go unnoticed. Manufacturers and operators can no longer be complacent and rely solely on police protection. They must proactively be involved in vandalism abatement and prevention. </p><p>Security Priority </p><p>Recognising the problem, Dirak helps enclosure manufacturers and large users like telecom providers combat this security challenge.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;The rise of vandalism is a sad phenomenon of our times,&rdquo; says David Hayes, general manager for Dirak UK, &ldquo;because we can&rsquo;t fight against the social background and circumstances which are the root problem. Those that rely on Dirak for their industrial hardware also rely on us to provide products with the highest security and vandalism resistance.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Currently, there are no international standards to address this issue. Subsequently, our specifications are geared towards those used in residential construction for windows and doors. Burglary prevention continues to be of highest priority. The basic idea is as simple as it is logical &ndash; handles and latching systems that offer serious resistance against burglars provide an insurmountable obstacle for the less professionally equipped vandals and copper-thieves. Using this as a design benchmark for the swinghandle equates to a resistance rating of 2. This norm represents the time that residential locks have to resist criminal energy. The logic implies that the longer a burglar is unavailingly tampering with a door, the sooner he/she will give up.&nbsp;</p><p>Vandals that attempt to crack through a Dirak system will often give up. The deterrence factor stems from superior systems that provide protection. With such systems, equipment damage is minimised.&nbsp;</p><p>Georg Huebner, manager of the Dirak product management group, clearly states that: &ldquo;We need to put ourselves in the shoes of these modern day vandals.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>While their motives and actions are very obscure, destructiveness usually follows the path of least resistance. Power equipment or a traffic light system typically show insufficient protection and become likely targets versus an enclosure that provides massive resistance against petty thieves.&nbsp;</p><p>Dirak&rsquo;s security concept is based on several elements. For starters, Dirak uses time-tested key systems. In outdoor applications, these have widely replaced simple latches that basically just prevent a door from staying open. Dirak increases the lock&rsquo;s protective function by using it in conjunction with a swinghandle. By restricting access to the actual latch, we are removing a burglar&rsquo;s starting-point. Flush-mounted latches also make gaining access difficult for vandals, because these latches don't offer a starting-point for a screwdriver, which is quite often the only tool they carry.&nbsp;</p><p>Dirak also offers reliable multipoint latches with rod-latches that are effective against forcible door access attempts. They latch the door securely in several places for protection against unauthorised access. It makes numerous hinges too. For sensitive outdoor applications, concealed hinges are ideal, because they don't provide a starting-point to force open a door. Subsequently, vandals usually give up.&nbsp;</p><p>Product materials also play an important role and should not be underestimated when trying to prevent vandalism. Stainless steel handles and latches provide massive resistance against most simple tools.&nbsp;</p><p>The costs of these systems are part of the security commitment. The additional costs for increased security are nominal when considering the overall application cost. Therefore, it is recommended to equip all outdoor systems with infrastructure functions that incorporate such products. Based on the enormous direct and indirect damage associated with vandalism, an investment of this kind is worthwhile &ndash; particularly for power distribution equipment, data and network cabinets.n </p><p>Enter 49 or at www.engineerlive.com/ede </p><p>Georg Huebner is Product Manager with DIRAK GmbH &amp; Co KG, Ennepetal, Germany. www.dirak.com</p>







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