Most office furniture lock mechanisms are wafer tumbler. In most instances, the file cabinets and desks themselves do not offer much protection against unauthorized access. Some employees are more than willing to unlock the lock, remove the key and leave the cabinet door unlocked. This results in almost no security except that people may think the cabinet is locked if the door is shut.
One alternative has been to install a key-retaining mechanical lock. The key can only be removed in the locked position. It seems that some offices have found the way around this alternative solution. An employee can unlock the lock, open the cabinet door, lock the lock and remove his or her key. Problem solved. This is even worse as the lock is locked and the cabinet door cannot be closed to give the appearance of security.
Enter the electronic cabinet locks no key required. Electronic cabinet locks are magnetic, motor or solenoid operated and designed for interior, non-entry door applications. A commercial solenoid uses electricity to create a magnetic field to move the steel armature (plunger) in order to unlock the locking mechanism. Solenoids require a significant amount of current (inrush) in order to move the armature. For Fail Secure solenoids once unlocked, power is removed and the locking mechanism relocks.
An electric motor also incorporates a mechanism similar to the loop of wire used by a solenoid. However, the magnetic field in an electric motor causes the armature to rotate, removing the obstacle from the locking mechanism or retracting the latch or bolt mechanism. Once the locking mechanism is no longer locked, the cabinet can be opened. Unlike a solenoid, the motor must reengage and operate to relock the locking mechanism.
Both the solenoid and the electric motor perform similar functions to create the same results of providing access to the content of the cabinet. However, the current draw of a solenoid is usually significantly greater when compared to an electric motor. Some of the electric motor-driven electronic cabinet locks are sold as battery operated.
An electromagnet is a magnet whose magnetic field (holding power) is produced by the flow of electric current. To strengthen the magnetic field, wire is wound into a coil with a metal core. When an electromagnet is powered, and is in close proximity, the strike becomes magnetically attached to the lock. The magnetic field disappears when the electrical current terminates, releasing the strike.
Cabinets, lockers, supply doors and other fixed storage equipment can be equipped with electronic locks. Some standalone, battery powered cabinet locks are designed to retrofit cam locks. Each unit can be used to secure one cabinet door.
Standalone locks provide the locking mechanism and the access control mechanism in one. Four models will be discussed: the Rutherford Controls Inc. (RCI) 3511, DIGITLOCKS DL1230-K and the CodeLocks CL1000 and CL1200 Series.
The RCI 3511 battery operated “Lock-in-a-Box” is a complete system designed to have the lock installed within the cabinet. It uses iButton® keys and includes key management software designed for up to 160 users. Programming is simplified by using Add, Delete, User and Shadow keys. The locking mechanism is an eyehook armature installed onto the interior of the swing side of the door. The eyehook is secured with the electronic bolt lock that provides 180 pounds holding force.
The RCI 3511 lock body is surface mounted adjacent to the swing side of the cabinet door with the eyehook mounted onto the door. When the door is closed, the eyehook enters the slot in the lock body and the locking bolt slides into the eyehook locking the cabinet.
The iButton reader is surface mounted in proximity of the cabinet door. To operate the lock, place a programmed iButton against the reader, and the lock unlocks so the door can be opened.
The RCI 3511 can be installed onto wood and metal cabinets. The battery is designed for three years or 350,000 operations. An emergency mechanical override option is available.