ASSA ABLOY’s Baker Addresses The Future of Mechanical Locks and Electronic Access Control

End-users are spending 20 times as much on electronic access control systems as on mechanical lock systems. As a result, locksmiths are selling complete electromechanical systems instead of standalone locks.


Electric strikes have become a significant participant in the world of access control. The main improvement in electric strike technology is in “ease of installation.” Surface mount electric strikes for rim exit devices do not require modification of the jamb. Electric strikes can be installed into the standard strike opening without modification. Many of these types of electric strikes can provide a solution for fire rated openings.

Over the last several years, magnetic locks have been under fire in some markets from an image and code perspective. However, improvements have been occurring that are turning this around. Magnetic locks are becoming smaller with greater holding force, while consuming less power. In addition, more components are being installed into electromagnets including camera and motion sensors. While sales are down from the 2008 high, there are some significant changes coming.

The 2012 International Building Code (IBC) model building code contains changes to the code that normalize magnetic lock installation in conjunction with UL listed exit devices including motion sensor or touch bar. Magnetic lock sales are expected to represent a significant part of the electronic locking market for the foreseeable future.

What is the role of wireless access control?

Wireless technology is a hot topic in the industry. Manufacturers are working to create products that function without wires. Wiring is easy in new construction, but can be very difficult in existing structures.

For most locksmiths the major part of their work is not new construction, and here wireless products are more practical in a number of situations. They offer ease of installation and can be used where running wire is impractical.

Wireless access control systems can provide semi real time communication. A battery powered installation by nature has limited communications. The reason is that communication requires power. Real time communication at this time is available only to hard-wired installations and plug-in powered wireless installations. For this reason, wired openings will continue to be the first choice for perimeter access control, but we will see an increase in the use of wireless locks on interior doors where the lower costs of wireless solution are attractive to providing additional security vs. a mechanical lock.

What are some of the opportunities for locksmiths?

Electronics have so much more value than mechanical locks. End-users are spending upwards of 20 times as much for electromechanical access control systems than for mechanical lock systems. A significant number of locksmiths have begun to sell complete electromechanical systems instead of standalone locks.

Locksmiths have the experience installing and servicing locks. Traditional access control integrator and dealers are normally afraid of mechanical locks. Contact access control companies and sub-contract. You provide the mechanical expertise.

Before you install an access control product or system for the end-user, “bench install” it. You will become familiar with programming, roughly know how long it takes to install. “Bench installing” will provide you with a more accurate time frame on which to base your costs.

Another advantage of “bench install” is if there is a need for assistance, you can call technical support. The Assa Abloy companies want you to be successful. They are there to help with one technical support telephone number that covers the entire Assa Abloy product line. The telephone number is 800-810-wire.

Assa Abloy lists education opportunities from all of their divisions at the web site www. assaabloyamericasuniversity.com. There are classroom courses and internet classes that cover the electromechanical and mechanical.

How can locksmiths better prepare for electronics?

The time for manufacturer required certification classes is coming. Before you can install specific high complexity products, the likelihood is certification will be required. When a locksmith installs a product for the end user, he or she is an agent of the company whose products they install. If a locksmith does not install the product or system properly, the company looks bad, and companies do not like to look bad.

Electronics are here to stay, and the applications for electronic access control are much greater than mechanical access control. For this reason, locksmiths should become hybrid locksmiths, someone who can install mechanical and electromechanical locks and components.

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