Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Bank vault quality control

Bank vault quality control for much of the world's vault industry is overseen by Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL), in Northbrook, Illinois. Until 1991, the United States government also regulated the vault industry. The government set minimum standards for the thickness of vault walls, but advances in concrete technology made thickness an arbitrary measure of strength. Thin panels of new materials were far stronger than the thicker, poured concrete walls. Now the effectiveness of the vault is measured by how well it performs against a mock break-in. Manufacturers strive to make products that repel attacks for a certain number of minutes.

A UL Class 1 vault is guaranteed to withstand a break-in attempt for 30 minutes, a Class 2 for 60 minutes, and a Class 3 for 120 minutes.

UL's workers attack sample vault walls and doors with equipment that is likely a burglar could carry into a bank and use. This usually includes torches and demolition hammers. If the UL worker can make a hole of at least 6 × 16 in (15.24 × 40.64 cm) in less than the set time, that particular part has failed the test. Manufacturers also do their own testing designing a new product to make sure it is likely to succeed in UL trials.


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