In the 1980s, Heras was the first company to introduce a sliding gate made of aluminium. Of course, much has happened since then. We have not rested on our laurels. Besides developing new products, optimisation of our products continues to be an area of focus. ‘The greatest advantage of aluminium? It’s three times lighter than steel, has pre-stressing capabilities which is convenient for large gates, and it’s strong, corrosion-resistant and reliable,’ says Jan Ruigrok, mechanical engineer at Heras’ Technology and Innovation Department.
The Delta was the first aluminium sliding gate that Heras put on the market more than 30 years ago. ‘The pre-stressing technique, which we developed, is unique as it increases the strength of the gates over their full length,’ Ruigrok explains. ‘The tensioning wires keep the gate from sagging.’ The Delta has a minimal mechanical load, and there’s no rail in the road in which dirt or snow can collect.
Using aluminium soon proved to be successful, both in terms of production and service life. So we focussed on further improving our aluminium sliding gates. This led to the introduction of the Argos gate in 2007. ‘Heras developed a unique, patented system to tension the mesh panel and the lower beam,’ says Ruigrok. ‘This gate doesn’t have tensioning wires in the lower beam. The welded mesh panel between the top and lower beam ensures rigidity.’
Optimisation: a continuous process
With the introduction of the iGate and the uGate in 2012, Heras set new standards for pre-stressed gates. The iGate features integrated LED lighting and offers the possibility to have a personalised design applied to the panels. The iGate’s design received the Red Dot Design Award. Ruigrok: ‘The uGate which was launched next has a similar lower beam but has aluminium bars. Its maximum dimensions allow a clear width of up to 12 metres. The pre-stressing technique is also applied here.’ For security reasons, all Heras’ pre-stressed gates are equipped with anti-crushing safety devices. ‘Should a tensioning wire of the Delta, iGate or uGate break, for example as the result of a collision, the wire is kept in place by an anchoring system,’ says Ruigrok. ‘This is to prevent unsafe situations due to wires breaking.’ For Heras the optimisation of its range of aluminium sliding gates is a continuous process. ‘This is partly to comply with new legal safety requirements. But we are also always looking for better solutions for mechanical and guiding systems.’
Modular and easy to install
The sliding gates have a modular construction. This makes them easier to transport and assemble. ‘We don’t have to hoist 10 to 12-metre gates onto a truck. The compact, modular design makes transportation a lot easier. What’s more, the so-called self-build packs take up a lot less space at the customer’s site. And because less space needs to be cleared, we can start installing the gate quicker. It usually takes us around half a day. That’s unbelievably fast.’ Aluminium also has advantages in case of damage. ‘Because only the damaged part or even only a bent bar can be replaced, it’s not necessary to replace the entire gate,’ Ruigrok concludes.