A Quick Reference Guide to Walk Through Metal Detectors for Commercial and Institutional Clients

Daniela Cardazzi

On November 6th In A/V, Intrusion, System Sales Tips & Marketing Concepts
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How can we help our clients detect an armed criminal entering their building?  While the security, access control, and surveillance systems we provide can, in some cases, detect real-time criminal activity, it is still a simple matter to conceal a weapon and walk into retail and commercial businesses with mal-intent.  Walk-Through Metal Detectors (WTMD) installed at the public entrances of buildings can help deter criminals from entering your customers’ locations and detect metallic objects being carried by visitors and employees.

Many decision makers who must purchase these devices are novices in the field of security. For this reason, it is important to be able to provide a comprehensive overview of features and benefits specific to WTMD’s. To help, you can find a list of important points below that will help you guide your customers to the best-informed decision. Although WTMD prices range widely, finding a high performance, reliable WTMD to fit your customers’ budgets is possible.

Pass Rate
Pass Rate is the maximum number of people able to pass through the WTMD during a given time frame without having any effect on detection performance. Pass Rate refers to the ability of the metal detector to return to the standby state after an individual passes through and will influence the efficiency of the screening process.

Multi-Zone Detection
Multi-zone detection is a must-have feature that helps the checkpoint operator pinpoint where on the body a target object is being concealed. This is a key feature for rapid, efficient screening. If a person is carrying change in their pocket and a gun on their ankle, the detector will indicate targets in two zones so the operator can direct their search to both areas at once without requiring multiple passes through the detector.

Sensitivity defines the size of the metal object that can be accurately detected by the walk-through metal detector.

Discrimination is the ability of a metal detector to distinguish between different types of metals and other harmful goods and weapons. As sensitivity settings are increased, the size of the detected metal objects will become smaller. Discrimination may be influenced by several factors including the sensitivity settings, changes in weather, and more. In addition to discovering dangerous target objects such as weapons, the proper level of discrimination can enable screening for other undesirable objects as well.

Device Placement
Where a WTMD is situated will influence a number of factors. Look for models with AC inlet points on both side panels for easier connection to power. Parallel use must be planned carefully. When two or more WTMDs are placed too close together, their electromagnetic fields may influence their operation. Using different operation frequencies can reduce interference, so look for models that offer a range of frequency settings.

Secondary Detection Devices
For full effectiveness, the metal detector needs to be manned by a guard or other person who can act when the device is activated.  This device may also detect non-lethal metallic objects such as cell phones or key rings, so some provision needs to be made for those items to be inspected.  In these cases, a secondary, hand-held metal detector can be used to “sweep” a person and locate the item(s) that triggered the walk-thru detector.

Most criminals are looking for easy opportunities to commit their illegal acts.  The installation of a walk-through metal detector along with appropriate and prominent signage outside the entry door may well be the necessary deterrent to stop an event before it starts.