By Displaysense's Lucy Eagland
When it comes to crowd management, queuing barriers are an effective and practical way of directing the flow of visitors and keeping people a safe distance from hazardous areas. They are a key part of any safety strategy as they prevent injuries and help provide a better experience for customers and the public, easing anxieties and improving their experience. They are popular in many different industries but each one will have a different goal. Retailers often use barriers in their last touch point with customers, the tills, and a good experience can help improve their perception of the business. Airports use queuing barriers to guide and direct travellers and to control the flow of people in busy areas like security check zones. Meanwhile, galleries and museums use them to protect artwork or artefacts from wayward hands.
Whatever the event, business or location, there will be a queuing barrier system to help everything run safely and smoothly. To help you decide what is right for you, we have outlined the different queue barrier types and what to consider when purchasing.
Retractable Queuing Barriers
The most common barrier type on the market is retractable queuing barriers. They are easy to manoeuvre but strong enough to stand up to even the busiest environment. They come in a variety of colours but most businesses use black or chrome. To connect barriers together, you clip the belt to the connector on top of the stanchion. The amount of connection points may be important if you are looking to create an extensive queuing system and you will want a barrier with three points. The belts vary greatly; in length, width and material. A strong webbing of around 50mm wide will be suitable for most jobs. Many temporary barriers will come with safety features to prevent accidental releases of the clips and prevent users injuring themselves. Some come with slim line bases to make queuing easier for wheelchair users and guests with trolleys or prams.
Industrial Queuing Barriers
Industrial barriers are heavy duty versions that are suitable for external use. Whilst many retractable barriers can be used outside temporarily, they should not be kept outdoors. Industrial queuing barriers are mostly constructed from plastic rather than metal so as to withstand even the hardiest weather conditions. The bases are sometimes made from rubber as it can maintain its shape even if driven over but they can feature water and sand fillable bases which once filled, are incredibly hard to knock over. They come in a variety of bright colours and often feature patterned belts to make them easier to spot. These are commonly found in construction sites or areas where forklifts and other heavy machinery are moving around or near members of the public.
Rope Queuing Barriers
Rope barriers are a popular solution for cinemas, galleries and museums as they are more aesthetically pleasing and evoke a feeling of grandeur for the visitors. The barrier posts are usually metal but come in a variety of finishes so it can blend effortlessly into your décor. The connecting ropes also come in different colours and in a variety of styles; velour, felt, braided and twisted. They are incredibly simple to use, the rope barrier simply hooks onto the loop at the top of the post and many posts have a 360 loop so you can link several barriers together to create a vast queue system.
Wall Mounted Barriers
Wall mounted barriers are ideal for when floor space is tight but you want the benefits of a retractable safety barrier. They also have the added benefit of giving the user the ability to mount at the height they wish. They cannot be interlinked with other barriers so you cannot create an interlinking queue system but they create a safe zone, making them ideal for entrances to galleries or theme park rides and protecting displays at exhibitions. They come in a wide variety of colours and patterns so that they can be used regardless of the industry.
- Belt- The length of the belt will determine how many posts you will require; the shorter the belt, the more posts you’ll need to cover a space whilst longer length belts will mean you can have fewer posts. If you are short of storage space or prefer a minimalist look, you may have to look for queuing barriers with longer belts. The belt will go through a lot in its lifetime and you will want one that can withstand a lot of use. A heavy duty woven belt will prevent fraying and give you a long lasting product.
- Safety features- Many brands now feature extensive safety features to prevent users and members of the public accidentally injuring themselves; braking systems, slow retracting cassettes and anti-tamper devices just to name a few. Tamper proof devices mean that children are unable to accidentally release the belt if they were to play with them. The level of safety features you require will be personal to your location, footfall and what they are being used for but accidents do happen and the safety of staff and guests should always be considered when purchasing.
- Maneuverability- One of the many benefits of queuing barriers, bar wall mounted, is that you can move and change the design of your crowd control solution quickly and easily. Whilst you want a strong and durable post, some items come with wheels or are a lightweight construction to make it possible to do this without too much physical strain. Some heavy duty barriers do offer the ability to separate the post and base for simple storage.
- Connectors- The amount of connectors on a stanchion will limit the amount of belts you can attach. If you wish to create a vast system with lots of interlinking posts, you will want posts with three connection points. You do not have to make use of all the points so if your requirements will change regularly, more points give you flexibility in your queue design.
- Base- The base can vary greatly, in material, shape and weight. Slim line bases which are a lot lower allow customers with mobility issues to move easily through the queue system. Rubber bases are robust and can stand up to being trodden on or even driven over and so are perfect for areas with heavy footfall or where vehicles are moving around. If the barrier needs to stand up to tough conditions, sand or water filled bases weigh the post down to stabilise it and prevent it toppling.
- Accessories- Queuing is not the most exciting of activities and we can all recall a time when we have been waiting in line at a shop and you’ve started looking at the items around you. Next thing you know, you are at the till with four extra items you didn’t need. Adding merchandising bowls onto your barriers can increase sales from last minute impulse buys. Maybe you have an event coming up or a new promotion, raise awareness with sign holders on top of your post or you use them to direct customers to the queue entrance and improve their experience with your business.
What type of queue control barriers do I need?
This will depend on many things. What you are planning to use them for, the location, the type of business it is intended for. We recommend when looking, to think about how you envisage it working in the space and consider the people who will be using it. Always measure the overall distance it will be covering to correctly calculate how many barriers you will need and if possible, mark out the system you would like to implement so you can check it is functional.
How do I design a queue barrier system?
Queue barrier systems should be personal and based upon the needs of the business or event but here are a few rules to follow;
- Think about where you want to create your queue, for example in a retail space this will most likely be around the till area. Think about how that works with the rest of the space. Does it obstruct free movement around the store?
- Make sure walkways are wide enough, take into consideration users with disabilities
- Avoid steep slopes and if you can’t, gradually wind queues down slopes
- Any gates used should be able to open from the queue side in an emergency
- If any of the ground is uneven or slippery, use a temporary floor covering to prevent injuries or accidents
Can queuing barriers be used for things other than queues?
Most definitely, they have a wide variety of uses and whilst directing the flow of traffic is the most common use, it isn’t their only use. When used in construction or factories, they are used to keep people safe from hazardous areas or spaces with moving vehicles or machinery. They can also be used to prevent people from getting too close to precious items like paintings, keeping them safe from damage.