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As the year draws to a close and with Yule tide still fresh in our memories, we thought it might be fun to take a look at how home automation has evolved over the past few years.

Gate automation was born out of necessity.  The public at large were starting to become increasingly more security-conscious as stories of break-ins and house robberies haunted the media, walls grew taller and guard dogs grew larger and more ferocious.  A universal cry was uttered for some technological means of safeguarding ourselves against crime while at the same time relieving us of some of the burdens associated with suburban living.

The very first gate motors – the great granddaddies of home automation, as it were – were mostly AC-driven behemoths that used limit switches for position control.  Although they undeniably filled a gap and tentatively lulled us into a sense of security, they often proved unreliable as power failures would cause them to stop working (remember, they were powered by the mains) and micro switches frequently failed.

The realisation that gate motors needed autonomy in the event of a power failure led to the advent of the now-familiar concept of battery backup being developed.  This crucial feature – one which CENTURION helped pioneer in South Africa – is today a staple of gate automation and one which helped keep homes secure even when the load shedding of recent years threatened to plunge us all back into the Dark Ages (pun definitely intended).

With power failure protection taken care of, there was still the issue of accurate and reliable position control.  As we mentioned earlier, micro switches frequently malfunctioned back in those early days, and this meant that gates would either be sent hurtling into the endstops like runaway trains or the motor would stop working altogether. This led to another bold step being taken, and the Digital Origin Seeking System, or DOSS, being developed.  This novel system allows the operator to “sense” the position of the gate by making use of an optical counter to count the number of pulses in each direction.  Many of you will be familiar with the gate-mounted origin magnet; this essentially acts as a point of reference for the motor, hence the name “origin magnet”.

Our very own D5 sliding gate motor – a tried, trusted and beloved stalwart of home automation – not only boasts battery backup and reliable position sensing, but has undergone a complete transformation in recent years.  The CP80 controller has been replaced with an intelligent LCD interface that makes setup and diagnostics exceptionally easy, and space-age features such as Intruder-detection Alarms and onboard timer functionality come standard with the aptly-titled D5-Evo.  When it comes to gate automation, this model is evolution at its most visible.

Of course, evolution does not only apply to sliding gate motors.  Try as we might, who can forget the days of garage door motors with clunking chains that sounded more like the ghost of Jacob Marley slowly dragging himself along to confront the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge?  Fortunately, operators now exist that are fast, reliable and whisper-quiet.  There will be no more imagining yourself in a Charles Dickens tale every time the garage door is opened.

Gate automation has become an integral part of our lives, and we trust in it as much as we do in our loyal guard dogs.  It offers convenience and peace of mind, and we are confident that it will keep evolving to suit our changing needs.

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