Q&A: ILA Great Lakes Chapter President Pete Dinschel

Pete Dinschel answers Locksmith Ledger’s questions about his job and the access control system used at his workplace, the Carpenters Training Center.

2) the fact that there is an audit trail

3) a request that users do not lend your iButton to someone else

4) if iButton is lost, report it immediately

5) which doors in the facility their lButton will access

6) simple instructions on to operate the locks

The list is kept very general in nature. While I take it for granted, the fact that the lock does not hinder egress seems to be a typical question.

Anything interesting about the credentials?

You bet. The original Schlage iButtons were susceptible to damage from pressing too hard at the lock. We had to replace many of with the newer Schlage iButtons and we have had no further problems.

There are problems with over-use of credentials. Once an IR programming credential is lost or disabled, every lock must be opened, the memory cleared, another programming credential entered into the lock, the lock closed, and then re-programmed.

PINs only for access can be a problem. In our case, students are sometimes just too close when the instructor is entering a PIN. All our instructor iButtons (only instructor staff can toggle locks) are set to cycle the lock for five seconds then relock with the capability to also toggle the lock locked or unlocked. A PIN is required with the iButton to cycle and a second pin with the iButton to toggle. Only my partner and I have a third PIN to lockout a lock, again only with our iButtons.

About a year ago, we upgraded the SMS-Select software and lost the ability to issue new iButtons with multiple PINs to toggle or lockout. Every software upgrade has had small changes made by software engineers. I have talked to the New Jersey Schlage software crew and hope my input will have some positive effect on future changes.

How often do you reprogram the locks?

We are on a once-a-month schedule. Art and I check with the administrators for new credentials or staff members who need changes, then update the software and tour the facilities. Currently we need to move to each lock for programming and uploading the audit trail. We do this in several, but not all of our facilities. I have seen all the new wireless products on the market. Wireless products and programming would surely save me a lot of time.

Our newer locks have a 1,000-audit limit and we have several doors that reach 1,000 openings in just four days. The administration knows that they need to tell us immediately for the higher traffic doors if they want to pull an audit report.

How often do the locks require maintenance?

There is very little maintenance except watching the voltage in the batteries. With 135 locks, that adds up to 540 AA and AAA batteries to watch. From the iButton port our locks can be read with a multi-meter (about every three months during a monthly programming) for battery voltage and we replace batteries as necessary. Batteries on exterior doors in Chicago need to be changed prior to winter.

Anything else interesting with your system?

Yes. Our lunchrooms have vending machines and the administrators want the apprentices (our day students) to stay out of the lunchrooms when they should be in a class or shop. At the beginning of the day, the lunchrooms are open, then automatically lock, unlocking/locking for morning break and lunch and finally opening for evening classes just before the end of the apprentice day. Four exit device trims on two pairs of doors have operated this way every weekday for several years without fail. Besides the lunchroom doors, we have other locks that lock/unlock on set schedules.

I told you earlier the instructors can toggle a lock; they usually forget to re-toggle a lock at the end of the class. The original software did not allow this without a total unlock/lock cycle. The only way to unlock and then lock the door with the software was to leave it unlocked for one full minute! New Jersey didn’t think it was a problem to leave all doors unlocked for one minute . . . at exactly the same time each day . . .

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