Access Control: Doing the Ground Work

It is better to have a system with more features than the customer requested than to have a system that does not provide for the basic needs or has no ability to expand.


Once you have a general idea of what levels of security are desired, the next step is to determine what doors are to be secured. When setting up access control, the best way to understand and be able to discuss the implementation is to have access to “as built” plans. These are the final drawings that are sometimes available after the construction of a building. Having the latest plans makes it easier for the end user and you to discuss controlling access and the placement of the lock hardware.

Important: Always make sure the plans are for the building you will be working in and they are up to date.

Whether plans are available or not, it is extremely important to take sufficient time to walk the facility and the surrounding area in order to get a feeling for what the job will require. Number the doors to know which doors will be equipped with electronic hardware.

Conduct a security survey. During the walk around, confirm the plans. If printed plans are unavailable, take the opportunity to construct some drawings in order to discuss traffic flow and the openings to control access. Depending upon the facility, controlling access may go beyond exterior doors to gates and interior spaces. Some company officials may prefer to have their offices secured enabling them to have a fob or card/badge or code that can be used to gain near total access.

This hands-on approach does take time, and it will provide important information including is the condition of the existing door hardware in regard to unlocking, door closing and latching. Even though new electromechanical hardware will be installed, if the door does not close and latch with the existing hardware, it will almost always need service in order for the new hardware to properly operate.

Having a good amount of information enables you to begin to make the appropriate decisions for the access control system, including whether the system will be hardwired, wireless or both, the type of locking hardware, the necessary components including latch bolt monitoring, door position switches, etc., depending upon design of the building and the required level of security. Only then will the lock hardware, controller and the operating software manufacturer be determined.

Your local locksmith distributor, the Internet and the manufacturer can be of value when researching electromechanical lock hardware. Your local distributor should be able to offer suggestions once you have determined the number of doors and the lock hardware required. Once they offer some manufacturers’ products they feel will meet or exceed what the customer requires, go on Internet and research these manufacturers and their product lines.

You can always contact the electromechanical lock manufacturers and ask questions. An important question to always ask are these products the latest in hardware and software? How soon will there be an upgrade? You should contact their technical support department and find out if support is offered fee or free and for how long.

There is a fine line with technical support. It is not their job to answer questions whose answers are in their installation manuals or to teach basic electricity, wiring or installation. However, for questions specific to their products, is the representative knowledgeable and willing to answer your questions?

There is never a need for anyone to know where the lock products are going to be installed. They will only need to know the number of doors, the lock hardware required as well as if the system will be wireless or hardwired or both.

Before providing a bid, make sure that the system you decide upon is the best system for the application.

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