An introduction to the uses of belt stanchions (or belt barriers)
Belt stanchions are all over the place and are probably one of the most effective psychological barriers around. They are a psychological barrier because there is no real physical effort involved in circumventing them. Think about the last time you saw someone ducking under a belt stanchion. You most likely had a negative reaction or said something along the lines of, “That’s not what they’re supposed to be doing.” That feeling is what makes belt stanchions so effective in organizing cooperative crowds of people.
Stanchions are popular for a reason and, due to their many uses, there are a significant number of stanchion types and design options available on the market today. This article will run through the various types of belt stanchions and how they are commonly used.
How many belts can your stanchion have?
One belt isn’t always effective, which is why some barriers utilize multiple belts. Right now on the market, there are one, two, and three belt stanchions:
Single Belt Barriers
Single belts are the industry standard since most people will adhere to the psychological intent of a line queue formed with belt stanchions. Single belts are also easier and faster to set up since there is only one belt to deal with. They are also very convenient when it comes to replacing the belt or belt cassette.
Double Belt Barriers
A double belt barrier can’t be ducked under or bypassed as easily as their single belt counterparts. These stanchions just make it more difficult to break the psychological intent of a line queue without drawing a lot of attention.
Triple Belt Barriers
A triple belt barrier becomes more of an aesthetic preference as it’s quite difficult to duck under a double belt barrier, even for children. However, if you need to have a highly visible line queue or belted off area, the double and triple belt barriers can offer that extra visibility with each additional belt.
Cafe Banner Barriers
Cafe Banners use stanchions to display a banner between them. These types of barriers are growing in popularity because of the added benefit of creating an attractive visual element to a line queue. Many companies will put their logo on these banners or, in the case of special events, use them for sponsorship logos.
Belt Length and Belt Thickness
How belt length and thickness are related
It seems like every year manufacturers come out with longer and longer bets for their stanchions. The most popular stanchion belt lengths on the market today are:
- 7.5 feet
- 11 feet
- 13 feet
Despite these standard lengths, there are a few belt barriers with belts as long as 30 feet. The standard belt thickness is 2.5 inches, although there are also 3 inch and 6-inch belts available. The thicker the belt, the shorter the length will need to be on the account of gravity. For example, a 6-inch belt at 13 feet will sag and flop sideways in the middle. The benefit of the thicker belts is increased visibility and a lot more room for printing, which helps when customizing belts for branding.
Choosing belt length and thickness is often a matter of cost and practicality, which depends on the business location. Longer belts have the benefit of needing fewer barriers or posts, which results in a lower cost and easier setup and teardown. However, when queues with frequent turns are necessary, shorter belt lengths are the best option. Belt length and thickness should always maximize the effectiveness of the stanchion while minimizing the investment.
Beyond Boring Belts: Stanchion Material Types and Applications
There is more to a crowd control stanchion than the belt. The stanchion’s post fabrication material is also a critical component and needs to be considered when making an investment. Where will your stanchions be used? How often?
Indoor vs. Outdoor Use
When setting up belt stanchions its important to know if they will be used indoor, outdoor or both. Are they temporarily used at any given location and moved around? Knowing this information will help you make decisions. We have has belt barriers installed on cruise ships that were specifically manufactured to endure the corrosive elements of salt water.
Plastic, Aluminum, and Steel Stanchions
Plastic, Aluminum, and Steel are the three most common materials used to fabricate belt stanchions. Each material has its own benefits depending on the application. Steel is durable and cost-effective but will not hold up as well as an aluminum stanchion in constant outdoor environments. Plastic is lightweight and durable with some unique aesthetic benefits including clear stanchions that can be filled with a design element. I.e. gumballs.
Stanchions in Retail, Maintenance, and Construction
There are specific belt stanchions designed for specific applications. Crowd control stanchions used in retail environments are the most common stanchions and you have probably seen them all over the place.
Less common are stanchions used in maintenance and construction applications. These stanchions are commonly plastic with bases that can be sand filled or perhaps stanchion tops that are designed to fit over traffic cones.
Belt Stanchions Bases – Why they do matter
For the most part, your stanchion base types serve an aesthetic purpose. There are however functional reasons to choose one type over another.
Fixed, Removable, or Portable Stanchions
Fixed stanchions are designed to be installed in designated areas on the floor and inserts are added to the floor to house the stanchion. This is a popular solution for areas that are permanently designated as line queuing areas. If you are planning on a permanent line queue area and want to install fixed stanchions, make sure you properly plan and design your line queue. Take existing traffic, existing throughput, and future growth into consideration. What happens if you outgrow this line queue? Because of the permanent nature of fixed stanchions, these questions are critical to address.
Removable stanchions are you typical round based belt stanchion. They can be stored in a cart and moved from point A to point B for setup and tear down.
Portable stanchions or Roller Stanchions have wheels on the edge of the stanchion and make it easier to move stanchions across distances
Base Construction Materials
Bases are typically made of covered concrete or cast iron. Concrete stanchion bases are the most economic but can break easier and do not have the durability of cast iron. Cast iron has the durability to last virtually forever under more extreme conditions.
While crowd control barriers such as stanchions or retractable belt barriers are a simple product, there are a lot of nuances to them that should be considered when making a purchase. If you are considering a large investment in crowd control, it is advised that you talk to a product expert. Someone with the product knowledge to help you get the most effective products for your particular application.