Anti-Terrorism (K-Rated) Bollards
Take a look outside the front of any commercial building in any urban environment. Chances are, you’ve been walking past these steel posts embedded in the ground every day. These steel posts are called bollards. The term originally referred to a post on a ship or dock used principally for mooring ships but is now also used to refer to posts installed to control road traffic and posts designed to prevent ram-raiding and vehicle-ramming attacks.
Bollards are robust posts installed across areas or roads to divert or prevent traffic. Different bollards are designed to withstand different amounts of force; K-rated bollards are rated as strong enough for use in anti-terrorism applications because they can stop high-speed and heavy vehicles. Bollards can also be classified as anti-terrorism, as they are designed to prevent terrorist threats/attacks, such as explosive vehicles or vehicles filled with hostile, armed fighters.
A Closer Look at Bollard Ratings
As the need for anti-terrorism and hostile vehicle mitigation (HVM) systems increased on a global scale, the rating criteria has also evolved.
Department of State (DOS) ratings, developed in 1985 and revised in 2003, are no longer officially used, but are still widely referenced in the industry. The Department of Defense created the ‘K’ ratings (K4, K8, K12), which are based on the impact speed that the bollard can successfully stop a 15,000 lb. vehicle traveling at speeds of 30, 40 and 50 mph. For example, a K12 crash bollard could stop a 15,000 lb. vehicle traveling at a speed of 50 mph.
ASTM F2656 crash ratings are currently used in North America. The standard measures both speed and penetration. The vehicle size for a medium-duty truck remains 15,000 lbs. Tests are also conducted at 30, 40 and 50 mph. Test results are identified as M30, M40, and M50. A “P” designation is provided to describe penetration after impact (P1, P2, P3 and P4) – the larger the P designation the greater the penetration.
Ratings and Specifications
K ratings were developed by the DoS and later replaced by M ratings, but the industry still commonly refers to K ratings when measuring the strength of a bollard.
K-rated bollards were a necessary advancement in safety when they first came around in the last century, but when the threat of terrorism became more pronounced; security experts realized they needed something more robust to prevent ramming attacks.
After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the DOS started to focus on impact-rated bollards and wanted a rating system that assessed bollards’ high-speed crash testing capabilities. Like the K-ratings and specifications, they measure a bollard’s ability to stop a standard vehicle moving at speeds of 30, 40, or 50 mph.
The main difference between K-rated and M-rated is based on how far the front bumper travels past the barrier, while M-ratings are certified based on how far the payload travels past the barrier. By revising the program and eventually pivoting to M ratings and the ASTM testing standards, people could put more trust in the ability of bollards to resist high-speed, heavyweight impacts. They became a more reliable method of resisting terrorism and theft through vehicle ramming attempts.
Certified versus Rated Bollards
Not all Anti-Terrorism or HVM bollards are created equal.
With the global increase in demand for Anti-Terrorism or HVM bollards some manufactures are circumventing the K/M rating system by offering engineered rather than certified bollards. Engineered bollards are just that, engineered to withstand the specific K/M impact weight and speed. Certified bollards are not only engineered to withstand the requirements of the ASTM/DOS standards but are physically tested at an authorized testing facility against the respective standards.
Only once the bollards have undergone this rigorous testing and successfully pass the test will they be considered certified K/M rated bollards. All K/M bollards supplied by Ontario Bollards undergo this testing giving you the peace of mind that the system you are installing will perform the job they are designed for.
Bollards are a effective barrier protection system. The vertical structures can easily block vehicles from reaching protected spaces without obstructing foot traffic or smaller vehicles. Bollards can include locking systems that allow operators to lower or remove the bollards on select occasions to let verified vehicles enter or exit the protected site.
There are two main types of bollards used for different applications: high impact bollards and crash rated bollards.
“High impact” and safety bollards were the standard before the creation of the anti-terrorism rating. These bollards could range in materials and durability. Examples include simple logs, cement posts, and decorated metal installations. Some of the most common applications of high-impact bollards are:
- Government Agencies
- Military Bases/Barracks
- Law Enforcement Facilities
- Commercial Office Buildings
- Parking Facilities
In these applications, the bollards are used to guide traffic, reduce the risk of collisions, and create clear, safe areas for pedestrians.
Unlike high-impact bollards, crash rated bollards anticipate direct, purposeful attacks. They are rated for their ability to stop vehicles from deliberately crashing into a site, hitting a building or people, and carrying explosives into a protected area. These bollards are used for the following key purposes:
- Safety: People, items, and buildings behind crash rated bollards are protected from impact and the risk of vehicle-driven explosives.
- Creating a Secure Perimeter: Protective forces and security guards can set up bollard systems to create a barrier against all possible vehicular threats to reduce the risk of incident and establish a clear boundary.
There are four main types of K or M rated bollards used for different applications:
- Fixed bollards are permanent installations and provide a permanent barrier for perimeter protection.
- Removable bollards can be unlocked and manually removed to allow access. Removable bollards can be installed where infrequent access is required. Removal of K/M removable bollards requires the use of a lifting device such as a forklift or front end loader due to the weight of the bollards.
- Semi-automatic K/M bollards are raised and lowered by means of a manual cranking arm or electric drill inserted into the access port of the bollard. Semi-automatic bollards are a cost effective alternative to fully automatic bollards.
- Automatic bollards can be operated by several means, push button inside a guard house, key pad, RFID card reader, ground loop and even by a cell phone (GSM).
By combining the various models of bollards you can reduce the costs of perimeter protection installation while maintaining a consistent aesthetic to the project. All K/M rated bollards supplied by Ontario Bollards Inc. have an identical look allowing you to mix the different operational methods controlling costs while achieving a uniform design across the entire installation.
Quality Certified K-Rated & M-Rated Bollards by Ontario Bollards
At Ontario Bollards, we design, source, and install protection solutions. Each of our barrier systems is custom-designed to meet the unique needs of your interior or exterior asset, environment, and threat deterrence evaluation. For over 30 years, we have been providing turnkey solutions with products sourced from the world’s best manufacturers of barriers and bollards.
Ontario Bollards is the industry expert in creating turnkey solutions for comprehensive barriers and anti-terrorism bollard systems. Contact us today to learn more about how we can outfit your site with a K-rated bollard system or request a quote for pricing details.