The purpose of this interview is for locksmiths/security professionals to get good information on the what, where, when and whys of mechanical locks and electronic access control products and systems.
Scott Baker is president of ASSA ABLOY EMS & OEM Group. This sub-group of ASSA ABLOY includes the well-known brands of Adams Rite, HES, Folger-Adam, Markar and Securitron. He is also involved in the sales effort for other ASSA ABLOY group companies including Medeco, Sargent, Corbin Russwin, Arrow, Yale, McKinney and many others.
Scott Baker started in the industry in 1984 as the field sales manager for Securitron, which was a small start-up company just outside of Los Angeles. He moved to Sparks, Nevada, in 1993 when Securitron re-located. He eventually was promoted to director of sales & marketing. Securitron was acquired by ASSA ABLOY in 1998 and Baker was made company president in 2002. He became group president in 2004 and the role has grown as more companies have been added to the group.
Following are the Ledger’s questions and Baker’s answers.
What are your thoughts on the future of electronic access control?
Electronic security is no longer the wave of the future; it is the wave of the present. Although electric locking is used on less than 5 percent of all commercial locked doors in the United States, I believe in the next five to ten years, approximately 20 percent of all locked door will have some electronic components. And every new building will have some component of electronics in it.
The capability of electronically controlling access provides capabilities far beyond anything a mechanical lock can provide. This is not to say that the mechanical lock is dead. There will be applications for mechanical locks for many more years. Electronic technology is racing ahead with rapid changes. Many new products are coming in the near future.
One direction is incorporating multiple components into a single product. Manufacturers are designing more ways to incorporate RFID into traditional locks. An example is the electromechanical lock equipped with a reader head or an electric strike with an RFID reader. This can eliminate the number of individual components in an access control system.
Another growth area is the application of smart card technology. In addition to a higher level of security, the smart card is capable of two-way communication. This enables the ability to provide more capability such as operating as a debit card in addition to providing access. Although the cost of smart cards is high, as more are being sold, the price will eventually drop, making them more competitive with the other card technologies. Eventually, smart card technology will be incorporated into cell phones enabling a person to use his or her cellular telephone to emit a signal in order to gain access.
With the growth of technology and the introduction of new products comes change. This is a significant problem for locksmiths and anyone involved in this industry knows products can become obsolete quickly. For this reason, it is extremely important for Assa Abloy to make new products backward compatible so installed systems are not forced into premature obsolescence.
What are some of the new or improved technologies of which we need to be aware?
Probably the most dramatic is the introduction of Power Over Ethernet (POE). With the improvement in POE technology, many security products will be able to receive their power from an Ethernet cable, no longer requiring separate wires. Technology will eventually reduce the need for separate power supplies.
Unfortunately, today POE is power limited, not able to provide sufficient power for many of the components of an access control system. As technologies and standards improve, POE locks, readers, cameras, etc., will provide the alternative to multiple wire runs. Companies who miss POE have a very limited future.