Orange cones, widely known as traffic pylons, traffic cones, and even witch hats, are among the many road safety products available in South Africa. However, even with widespread use, little thought is given to the history, design, applications, and effectiveness of this important road-safety product. A closer look at the origin, features, and design of pylons provides insight as to why road cones are among Armco Superlite’s range of essential road safety products in South Africa.


Although made from exceptionally strong lightweight material today, the original pylons were made from concrete and wood. The very nature of these materials meant that the cones were too heavy for quick and easy deployment. In addition, neither of these materials were forgiving when hit. Damage to the person or vehicle colliding with a wooden or concrete-based road safety product is inevitable and thus something had to change. Add to the above, the design of tripods rather than cone shapes, and one can already see why the design of these road-safety products was flawed. The tripod idea was practical, being the forerunner of the cone shape, but the heaviness was problematic.

These cones were originally deployed to create lanes around road construction. Of course, made from heavy materials, the cones were effective in stopping motorists from ignoring essential redirection. However, the heaviness of the pylons made it difficult to quickly deploy or transport them. The items were not stackable, and thus took up more space than needed during transport or when stored.

New and improved design and material-based requirements had to be addressed. Fortunately, technology advanced and thermoplastic models came on the scene. One of the original uses was to place the pylons to the front and rear of delivery and stationary vehicles to warn motorists of the danger and to direct them around such. This is still a practice across the globe.

The first traffic cones were used in the United Kingdom (UK) as replacements for the red lanterns and tripods previously used at road-work sites. However, the plastic types came about as the result of David Morgan’s design in 1961. They have thus stood the test of time.

Road-safety uses

Pylons are frequently used at traffic control points to direct motorists to allocated parking spaces for vehicle inspections and they are used at stop-and-go points to indicate where to stop and wait until an instruction is given to drive. Cones are also used at pedestrian crossings at peak hours and emergency workers place cones around accident scenes to prevent motorists from driving over debris. Driving schools also often use these pylons as space markers to resemble parking spaces. They thus have a myriad of uses when it comes to road safety.

Other uses

Due to their lightweight design, stackable nature, and high visibility, orange cones have a few extra uses, apart from their main purpose as road-safety devices, such as:

  • Pylons are placed in front of open manholes to warn of danger.
  • Cleaning staff often use these pylons to signal that floors are wet and to direct shoppers away from these areas.
  • Sports coaches use the cones as obstacles, to indicate sport field boundaries, and as temporary goals.
  • Event organisers often deploy the pylons to create ticket lanes.
  • Go-cart and cycle course operators use orange cones to create temporary courses.

Distinctive characteristics of Armco Superlite’s Cones

Cones come in various sizes and colours. Some are extra-large for application at mines and dam construction sites where large vehicles operate. Smaller ones are used at sports fields and indoor facilities. In most instances, pylons are highly visible, with Dayglow Orange being our most popular colour. However, our cones are available in a range of colour options.

One of the main characteristics of outdoor pylons is durable plastic. Ours are treated with UV-resistant ink and this prevents fading due to sunlight exposure. Another important characteristic is its hollow design. This makes it possible for the cones to be stacked for storage, transportation, and easier deployment. With the hollow design, the cones are also lightweight, making it possible for a single person to quickly place the pylons at the relevant spots without the need for special tools.

Many pylons also come with holes at the base for fitting the units to the road surface by means of bolts. The road cones come with distinctive heavy-based designs. This helps to prevent the devices from being blown over by windy-weather conditions or passing vehicles. With some having the broader-based design, it is possible to secure the cones to the road surface by means of sandbags or stones to keep in them in place during windy conditions.

The pylons are made as single-piece devices. This adds to their strength. Due to their design, the devices take up very little horizontal space. As such, the cones can be placed on roads in the median to indicate wet paint without taking up too much driving space.

Available sizes for soft cones range from 300 mm to 920 mm in height. As such, the right size can be selected for a particular application. The pylons are made from a flexible material and this helps to prevent damage to vehicles colliding with the cones.

Armco Superlite: Reputable suppliers of orange traffic cones

It is highly recommended to purchase traffic pylons from well-regarded suppliers in South Africa. The products sold through such suppliers are specifically made according to road-safety standards.

Armco Superlite is a well-established supplier of road safety products in South Africa and offers economical products that boast great value and quality. Road-safety products include the above-mentioned traffic and construction cones, delineators, speed ramps, guardrails, and more. Purchasing road-safety products from a reputable supplier also makes it possible to buy in bulk and thus pay wholesale prices.

Regardless of whether you want to purchase traffic cones for your local driving school, for large-scale deployment at sporting events, for your department’s emergency vehicles or for national road maintenance purposes, the product quality is of great importance. To this end, purchasing products made according to strict quality and safety standards is a priority. Armco Superlite meets every requirement. Get in touch with the sales team for more information about the range and pricing of our safety products.