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Turnstile Throughput Considerations

To determine the amount of turnstiles needed for a given application, a major factor comes down to the rate of throughput: the number of people passing through a turnstile per minute. 

Which Security System Do You Need? Controlled Access vs. Free Access

Offering high level security regulation, controlled access means a user cannot pass through without first presenting credentials. With a limit on entry, the access system delivers a signal to the turnstile to either open or unlock. This helps facility owners who seek to moderate throughput; particularly when it comes to keeping entrances safe. 

Conversely, free access is often used for exiting, allowing the user to pass without needing to present credentials. In this method of access, the turnstile is either constantly unlocked or opens automatically without needing a signal from the access system. For this reason, free access will open a higher rate of throughput than controlled access.  

Understanding the Impact of Access System Response Time

Access systems check to ensure presented credentials are valid, proceeding to provide signals to the turnstile to open or unlock. The time it takes to process and signal to the turnstile varies between access systems. Notably, even access systems built with fast response times can periodically deliver slower responses. The pace of response time absolutely impacts the rate of throughput. This means the slower your access system’s response time, the slower the rate of throughput. 

Choosing Your Card Reader/Access Device Type

Rate of throughput can also hinge upon the types of access device uses. After all, a longer-range proximity reader, allowing a user to keep an access card in their wallet or purse, provides a faster rate of throughput than a card that must be removed to be read. Using a proximity reader that asks for a user to enter an access code will decrease the rate of throughput. Likewise, a biometric device (depending on both the device used as well as its application) can substantially cut the rate of throughput. 

The Human Factor: Our Systems Are Only as Efficient as Our Ability to Use Them

As with any new technology, the process of digital adoption presents a learning curve for users making sense of new equipment. Human factors can meaningfully alter throughput. This is where user training is pivotal, empowering streamlined system use and smooth operation.  

Evaluating Turnstile Type

Considering the shorter distance a user needs to travel when going through the device, waist high turnstiles (such as the EDC) tend to drive higher throughput rates than full height turnstiles (like MST or CPST). 

Barrier optical turnstiles (SU3000, SU3500 or SU5000) often are the turnstiles that reach the greatest rate of throughput. Because the equipment stacks credentials, this allows multiple users to present their cards, one after the other, without the panels cycling.  

Full Height: 20 – 30 people per minute

Waist High: 25 – 40 people per minute

Barrier & Barrier Free Optical: 45-60 people per minute

Calculating Turnstiles Based on Anticipated Throughput

When using a proximity card with a 250 millisecond access response time (marking ¼ of a second) in ideal conditions, a good rule of thumb indicates a throughput rate of 1-2 seconds for optical and waist high turnstiles; and 3-4 seconds for full height turnstiles. 

You can use the following formula to calculate the number of turnstiles sufficient for a given facility:

(number of patrons / time allotted) / rate of throughput = number of turnstiles required 

Example in Action:

Assuming a two-second throughput rate (accounting for 30 people per minute per turnstile), it would take approximately four devices to facilitate 4000 patrons to enter a facility within a 30-minute time span. 

(4000 ÷ 30) ÷ 30 = 4.44

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