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Find Out If Retractable Bollards Are Right For Your Project…

Important points to consider when planning a retractable bollard installation

Retractable bollards are sleek and durable access control devices that increase safety and compliment contemporary architecture but these mechanical devices will only perform as well as they are installed and maintained. When planning a retractable bollard installation, take the following steps to help ensure that retractable bollards will deliver the performance you expect:

A row of stainless steel retractable bollards by Reliance Foundry stands in row outside Santa Monica’s museum of flying.

1. Examine the Site

Retractable bollards are susceptible to environmental demands, and site selection is very important. Reliance Foundry’s retractable bollards can perform in both cold and wet climates, however, proper drainage is required. If water is allowed to accumulate in the bollard’s receiver in cold climates, the mechanical components will freeze, causing the retractable bollard to seize. A retractable bollard with frozen mechanical components may become irreversibly locked in its retracted or raised position for an extended period of time. This means that ensuring that your site will allow for proper drainage is of the utmost importance.

Sites that are close to large bodies of water often have higher water tables which can make installing proper drainage difficult. These areas will often require a greater level of drainage rock to be used or, in extreme cases, the use of a sub pump. If you have questions on your sites suitability, you may wish to consult a geo technician.

A Reliance Foundry bollard composed of 304 grade stainless steel is shown beside a Reliance bollard composed of 316 grade stainless steel.

2. Decide on a Material

As retractable bollards are susceptible to oxidation or rusting in high-salt (seaside) environments and areas where street de-icing chemicals and compounds are frequently used, proper consideration should be paid when selecting a retractable bollard’s material composition. Reliance Foundry offers retractable bollards that are composed of two different grades of stainless steel:

304 Stainless Steel

The most versatile and widely used grade of stainless steel, 304 stainless is readily formed into a variety of components for applications in the industrial, architectural, and transportation fields. Grade 304 stainless steel provides a good level of corrosion and oxidation resistance but over time it may tarnish.

316 Stainless Steel

Another common grade of stainless steel, 316 stainless provides a high level of anti-corrosion protection and is more resistant to salt water corrosion than 304 stainless steel. 316 stainless steel is priced higher than 304 steel due to the higher level of anti-corrosion it provides. Though it provides an exceptionally high level of durability, it is important to note that even Reliance Foundry’s 316 stainless steel bollards may susceptible to failure in extreme environments. In areas affected by extreme environmental conditions, other products or material options should be considered.

Note: Regardless of material composition, all stainless steel bollards are housed in a powder-coated STEEL receiver that sits below the concrete surface.

3. Plan the Installation

Perhaps, no factor will play a greater role in the success of a retractable bollard application than the installation. Choose a reputable contractor or construction firm to plan and install the retractable bollards. Remember: the installation hole should be dug four feet for feet for the receiver with an additional length to hold a level of drain rock suited to the site’s conditions. The addition required is generally a minimum of 12 inches. Often, planners will request that a drainage ditch be dug below the bases of the receivers, and filled with drainage rock to allow for the greatest level of drainage. If you have questions about the level of drainage rock required for your area, you may wish to consult a geo technician. A small concrete shoulder, or berm*, should be built around the top of the receiver to prevent water from entering.

Basic parameters of a successful installation:

A computer-generated graphic shows a cross section of retractable bollard and substrate, demonstrating the parameters of an ideal installation.

*A raised concrete shoulder (berm) will help to prevent moisture from accumulating in the bollard's receiver.
**Threaded drain holes that allow piping or tubing to be affixed to the receiver are available upon request.

For more information or to view a video that demonstrates how to install retractable bollards, visit Reliance Foundry’s retractable bollard installation page.

A studio shot of one of Reliance Foundry’s retractable bollards being wiped down is shown.

4. Perform Regular Maintenance

Retractable bollards are mechanical devices and require routine maintenance. Buyers should ensure that the resources are available to perform regular maintenance on the bollards once they are installed. In order to perform effectively, a retractable bollard must be kept dry, free from debris and properly lubricated. The major mechanical features of these bollards are enclosed below ground, making them susceptible to dust and dirt engaging with critical components. Retractable bollards require routine cleaning to keep them in optimal working condition and such maintenance is demanded more often in significantly dusty or dirty areas. This may involve sweeping the surrounding concrete surface daily and wiping the bollard frequently. Regardless of where the installation site is located, an all-purpose lubricant and assembly grease must be applied at regular intervals. Rust and stains must be removed immediately to protect the structural integrity of the bollard.

If mechanical difficulties are encountered, a retractable bollard can be disassembled and serviced. Please consult Reliance Foundry’s Retractable Bollard Maintenance Guide.