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Understanding and Selecting Walk Through Security Metal Detectors

By Michael Bernzweig

Walk through metal detectors fall into one of two general categories. The first style of walk through metal detectors provides single zone detection. The second style provides multi zone detection. Basic multi zone detectors like the Garrett MT 5500 will identify that the target is on the left side or right side. To understand the difference, I will provide a quick example. Let's say that an individual walks through the opening of the metal detector with a concealed weapon located at their ankles. Both the single and multi zone detectors will locate the target. The difference between the two is that the multi zone detector will be able to identify the location of the target, on either the left or right side of the individual. More advanced multi zone detectors like the Garrett PD 6500 will pinpoint the specific location from head to toe and on the left or right side.

Pinpointing the location of the target quickly is important so that your security personnel can respond swiftly. Larger crowds require greater through put. If you are scanning a large volume of individuals, a multi zone metal detector will let you process more individuals quicker.

Single Zone Walk Through Metal Detectors:

Multi Zone Walk Through Metal Detectors:

What are the typical locations and uses for a walk through metal detector?

At one time, security metal detectors were primarily seen just in airports and correctional facilities. Today we see walk through detectors in a variety of locations including police stations, night clubs, schools, public and private buildings and for corporate work place security. They are also used in manufacturing facilities, warehouses for loss prevention, nuclear facilities, transportation terminals, courthouses, historical landmarks, sporting events, arenas and at concerts. One of the first places to pick up a walk through detector from us was a roller skating rink, and that was nearly 25 years ago.

Choosing the best configuration.

Will your detector be set up at one location or do you plan to move the detector from location to location? If you will be moving the detector often, you will want a light weight portable walk through metal detector or one that can be moved easily.

Setup and operation:

Modern security walk thru detectors are easy to setup and operate. Each unit will come with a detailed manual and instructional setup video. Digital electronics are easily adjusted through a touch pad and LCD display. The walk through metal detectors come with factory preset programs. You can adjust the detectors for your specific location or the type of object that you are looking to locate. Based on the level of sensitivity that you choose, the detector can be adjusted to locate various targets.

Controlling the flow of traffic is important when setting up your metal detector. You will want to be sure that all individuals that enter or leave the building are directed through the detector. It is a good idea to have a basket or tray setup next to the metal detector for individuals to place any metal objects in to. It is important that watches, coins, keys, belts and other large metal objects are removed before walking through the detector. The better organized you are, the better your through put will be.

Do I need a security metal detector wand?

You can think of the walk thru detector as the general screening device. Once you have identified that an individual has a concealed item, you will need to precisely pinpoint it. A metal detector wand will let you locate the target quickly. Security wands will alert you to the target with an audible tone, target identification light, vibration or a combination of the three. The wand metal detector is a required accessory for use with the walk-thru gate.

Metal Detector Security Wands featuring Audio and Vibration Alerts:

Metal Detector Security Wands featuring Vibration Only Alerts:

Rolling out your security plan:

While it is a significant investment, do not get too caught up on the cost of acquiring your walk through metal detectors. Your largest expense will be the annual cost of security personnel to operate the equipment. While you may already have staff on hand, you might find that you will need to allocate funds to increase staffing. Armed with a good knowledge of your organization and the available types of security metal detectors, you are now ready to choose the best equipment. We are here to help you put the pieces of the puzzle together. Feel free to speak with one of our Security Product Specialists to discuss your specific needs.

© 2008 Detector Electronics Corp

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