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The Truth About Pneumatic Cash Transfer Safes

Pneumatic Tube Systems or vacuum cash transfer systems are a popular method of moving cash over distance in a retail environment but when these systems are fitted directly to a certified safe the certified security level of the safe is permanently destroyed.

Pneumatic Air Tube Systems: History & Modern Misuse

Pneumatic air tube systems are an excellent way to transport any small light weight item from one destination to another quickly and safely. When these systems were first developed for commercial use in 1853 they were used to send telegrams from the London Stock Exchange to the city’s main telegraph station, a distance of 200 meters. By 1871 Dublin had its own pneumatic telegraph system even before much larger European cities such as Vienna who didn’t get one until 4 years later but didn’t actually stop using it until 1956.

It wasn’t until the early 80’s that the idea of using a much smaller system to send cash instead of documents within a retail environment started to catch on. At first the system used a “send station” at one end and a “receive station” at the other. Cash was collected from the receive station by cash office staff and placed into the overnight safe. This is how most systems in Europe are still fitted today and it allows checking of the contents of each capsule by qualified staff and of course does not compromise the safe’s integrity.

A serious problem only arose in the mid 90’s when someone, in the now highly competitive pneumatic cash transfer business, decided it was a good idea to fit pneumatic transport tubes (usually 65mm wide) directly into a safe intended to protect cash overnight. This is still marketed today as a labour saving advantage as a safe can receive cash capsules directly. It is also of course cheaper to fit as a receive station is now no longer required.

There is however one big “Hole” in this theory that has always been obvious to professionals in the safe and vault industry, not to mention more than a few criminals who have taken advantage of the issue recently.

This issue creates a serious problem from a security and insurance standpoint and it has to be said that one might have thought this particular problem should have been glaringly obvious from the start.

The large 65mm hole cut into the top of a safe to accommodate a pneumatic tube.

Correcting Misinformation On Certification And Security

There has been a lot of misinformation on this subject by various vested interests and many in the insurance industry still do not seem to have woken up to this issue so let’s clarify the facts of the matter once and for all.

All certified safes tested to the EN1143-1 standard are tested as they were manufactured and are certified once the test is complete to their proven level of resistance. Once a test certificate has been issued for a particular product only very minor alterations may be permissible such as a lock upgrade or an alarm cable track.

In the case of the pneumatic tube or capsule deposit, because a hole has been cut into the safe (usually around 65mm) the safe certification couldn’t possibly be still valid nor the safe secure as the barrier material has been extensively breached.

It stands to reason that any physical alterations to the unit such as vacuum tube, capsule deposit, or rotary deposit drum all of which involve cutting large apertures into the certified safe body, will of course make the EN1143-1 certification that existed before the alteration void for all purposes.

It is only the very ignorant or dishonest who will assert otherwise.

Don't Be Fooled

NO manufacturer makes an insurance certified pneumatic capsule deposit safe.

Many manufacturers make these units in their factories as special orders but when this happens any certification labels that would normally be on the unit should be removed as this type of alteration means the certification is no longer valid. The reason a capsule deposit can not be certified or secure is clear. The safe’s barrier material has had a 65mm hole cut into it, this constitutes a breach is the safe’s protection that did not exist when the safe was originally tested.

Genuine Certification

Genuine certified deposit systems are given the certification EN1143-2.

EN1143-1 is only used for a safe that has been certified without a deposit facility. If your deposit safe does not display any cert inside its door it’s not a good sign. If a deposit safe of any sort displays the certification EN1143-1 then the safe has been modified and the safe is not certified for any burglary resistance whatsoever.

Regulated test houses test safes and vaults for overnight insurance purposes according to their resistance to attack and the results are then graded by the certification body. When a safe is tested and graded according to European standards, it has a certification badge fixed to the inside of its door stating its grade in Roman numerals, its weight and its type. EN1143-1 is the non deposit safe standard whereas EN1143-2 and EN1143-2D is only used for deposit safes. EN1143-2N is for specialist night deposit systems only.

Whose responsibility is it?

When it comes to insurance it is the policy holder’s responsibility to see that all details regarding a deposit safe are correctly submitted. Please be aware that all national certification bodies in the E.U. are not necessarily accredited so make very sure you check.