Tap into the Latest Electrified Hardware Trends

Do you face this quandary? “We would like to invest in more electronic access control but cannot seem to justify investment in an enterprise solution.” It’s a legitimate excuse for holding back in a world of tight budgets. So, what can you do to solve this dilemma?

First of all, advise your customers of their options. With a range of solutions that span from electronic pushbutton locks to computer programmed and networked access points, there are multiple solutions for a breadth of applications and budgets.

If a site already has an access control system that is Wiegand-based, the options are even greater as most current wall mount readers, biometric readers and integrated electronic locks are compatible with Wiegand. Wireless access control solutions are also available that support Wiegand. With it, you can extend a site’s card-based access control system to several additional applications.

 

Leverage Wireless Access Control

Almost 70 percent of electronic locking systems now incorporate wireless features. With wireless and the labor savings you will incur, you can help your facility professionals extend the reaches of their access control and one-card systems at a cost that used to include extra materials and increased labor. With wireless, money formerly spent on drilling, pulling wire, trenching and equipment can now be invested in protecting more access points. We say “access points” and not just “doors” as sites can now more easily and efficiently add electronic access control to remote areas, gates, elevators and other unique applications that previously have been too impracticable or expensive to install.

Here is one example. Many high schools and colleges have athletic equipment sheds out at the practice field. The equipment inside is quite valuable. In most cases, the equipment is protected with a lock and key, sometimes a padlock. This is often because it is too expensive to hardwire the shed. With wireless, the school can now utilize the same access control system and credential to get into that shed as used at other access points on campus. Whether or not the original system is wired or hardwired is irrelevant. If the rest of the campus is hardwired and the shed is wireless, the access control system can monitor all doors alike.

 

Open Architecture

Moving forward, assure that customers are educated on the value of open architecture solutions versus proprietary systems. Open architecture access control solutions are typically easily upgradable and provide flexibility and scalability. This allows the site’s system to accommodate emerging technologies that can expand and adapt as needed. Best of all, show how you can create such solutions using current technologies, as well as those under development, without compromising or risking investments in their present systems.

To determine if your organization is a prospect for migration to new technologies while leveraging your present system, start by verifying the site’s software and panel boards. Check if the present software will work with the electrified locks, readers and door hardware that you want to recommend. Determine which software versions are present as well as what versions of controller boards are in use. If not the latest, find out if an upgrade is required and the corresponding cost. Double check what credentials are being deployed now and which want to be used in the future. Since there can often be a difference between head end systems, figure out what additional equipment may be needed for your proposed system upgrades.

With this information, you can now ascertain the limits of the site’s present system and help paint a version for the customers of what they could accomplish by leveraging new technologies. Show them the lengths that they can expand their current system without having to replace their existing equipment. Let them appreciate what the cost of this expansion would be versus that of an entirely new system.

Then, explain how, by leveraging an open architecture solution, this proposed expansion will stand the test of time. Point out how the new open solution provides gateways for future technologies that will also be on open architecture platforms. That is the type of key information they need to show accounting in order to get additional funds.

Here is just one of many real life examples of how an improvement for today sets up an opportunity for the future. Smart cards are becoming the credential of choice. At the same price as a proximity card, they provide increased security. For no other reason than this, companies should investigate migrating to smart cards. Thus, if a site is presently using magnetic stripe or proximity cards, explain why any new readers bought in the near future need to be multi-technology. Make clear how, once the switchover begins, they won’t need to replace their newer multi-technology readers as they change out their legacy readers.

With that said, it’s still going to be a hybrid credential world. Although smart cards may be the credential of choice, multiple types of credentials, such as key systems, PINs, various types of cards and biometrics, will still be necessary for certain applications. For instance, it is becoming more and more popular to use biometrics on the data center door. If the system has an open architecture, adding special readers such as hand geometry to such areas is greatly simplified. However, even though a site may use multiple credentials, most customers still will want one system to manage all of them. That’s only possible with an open architecture software system and open architecture hardware.

Lastly, your customers will value if their investments today allow them to be ready for new technologies such as near field communications (NFC). With NFC-enabled smart phones, they will be able to employ their employees’/customers’ own smart phones as access credentials, just like they are beginning to use smart cards now. Emphasize to them that not only are you helping them upgrade to smart cards, by installing multi-technology readers that already read NFC-enabled smart phones, but you are also help them prepare for the next credential evolution without concern of having to change-out readers.

You’ll find that, by going through this type of exercise, you can more easily help your customers migrate from their current access control system to a cutting-edge open systems security solution without scrapping legacy equipment.

 

Upgrading Mechanical Systems

To get facility managers interested in an electronic system, introduce them to electronic pushbutton locks. That’s the solution many locksmiths have found to be successful for initially introducing sites to electronic access control. It’s why approximately 50 percent of all electronic locks are pushbutton.

Here’s how the electronic pushbutton installations can lead ultimately for a full electronic access control system. To begin with, advise your customers that users operate the electronic pushbutton the locks the same way they do with mechanical pushbutton locks. The actual user won’t really see the difference in the electronic lock because it operates just like a mechanical pushbutton lock. The employee enters a PIN and then opens the door. One enhancement may be that most electronic pushbutton locks provide visual and audible feedback when PINs are entered.

Nonetheless, why should a site spend increased money on an electronic pushbutton lock which, to those at the site, also looks like and operates like their present lower cost mechanical pushbutton locks?

Highlight how your customers will have more flexibility in implementing future access applications. It is recommended that it be stressed that a baseline electronic access control lock with keypad, such as the Schlage CO-Series, offers a variety of options, allowing locksmiths and facility management to customize the right solution for a facility.

Customers can choose the credential they want. Besides the keypad-only PIN option, proximity, magnetic stripe and dual credential options are also available. A key-in-lever design also lets users leverage existing master key systems. They can control where people go and when by setting up access rights and schedules in a central database and then transferring this information to the locks using software with a handheld mobile device.

Using this option, people will only be allowed beyond access points if they are authorized to be there and when they are authorized to go there. If salespeople Beth and Larry are authorized to go into the executive offices between 9 and 5 on Monday through Friday as long as it’s not a holiday, they will be able to do so. But if they are not authorized to be in the executive offices at any other time, their credentials will not let them in before and after 9 and 5, on weekend or Christmas. With some versions, audit trails will even provide visibility as to who accessed a door and when.

These locks come in a variety of models. For instance, the offline lock version is manually programmable. Most locksmiths find this version the ideal solution for sites ready to upgrade from mechanical keys to PINs.

Next up the chain is the computer programmable model. User rights are stored on the lock and can easily be added or deleted at any time. It also provides an audit trail and is available with a choice of credential readers – 12-button keypad, magnetic stripe, magnetic stripe plus PIN, proximity and proximity plus PIN. Another version is similar to the computer programmable model except that it stores user rights directly on a magnetic stripe credential. An economic solution for campus-based environments and large numbers of users, it provides dynamic rights management on the card without reprogramming each lock.

Often a concern of locksmiths, such electronic locks are rugged. Indeed, their mechanical components are based on the design of Schlage ND and L Series locks. With cylindrical, mortise and mortise deadlock chasses available, users can create the right solution for any application. Tested to the highest quality and reliability standards, CO-Series locks are also ANSI/BHMA Grade 1 certified and UL294 listed.

Additionally, the key-in lever design accepts many popular models of SFIC and FSIC cylinders, making it easy for the new locks to integrate with existing master key systems. The locks also leverage an open platform, providing users with more choices and freedom from propriety technologies. They are also compatible with leading exit trim brands, including those from Von Duprin and others. A wide variety of finish and lever options are available. The locks are powered by four AA off-the-shelf batteries and provide up to two years of operation with a normal 36,500 cycles per year.

 

Electrified Hardware

As the site starts implementing electronic access control, there is often the demand for added features; the customers themselves will start requesting more and more access control options as they see increasing opportunities to improve productivity and security. By showing how to efficiently address these additional needs, you will increase your stakeholder’s satisfaction and help grow your value to your organization.

Start them off small – propose electronic pushbutton locks – and show them how they can add more openings as budgets permit. Help them choose which openings should be offline or networked and emphasize how both types of locks can be managed with the same software and database. Let them understand how their facility can have more locks on more doors to increase security while moving offline doors to a network solution as budget and needs dictate.

 

Brad Aikin is Director – Product Management, Electronic Locks, Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies

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