It isn’t every day that a product that’s aimed at retrofitting a door closer is named the new product of the year at a trade show known for highlighting high-tech security solutions. But then, the LCN 6400 COMPACT Series isn’t your typical product.
The low-energy door operator is paired with an LCN 4040XP door closer, either together for a new installation or separately as a retrofit upgrade to an existing 4040XP in use, to bring automatic and even potentially touchless operation to any door in a building. The 6400 COMPACT was introduced in fall 2021, and in March 2022, it was named the top new product for the year at ISC West.
The honor came as a bit of a surprise, according to Yong Lacy, director of product management, door controls at Allegion, which owns the LCN brand.
“You’re always biased when you work on certain things,” Lacy admits. “Usually those types of awards go to an access control-oriented solution. Being part of the door-control team, we were very proud the innovation that’s related to a door closer won.”
He then smiles slightly: “I think the judges made the right decision.”
Locksmith Ledger was impressed with the product upon arrival, and we’ll have more to say about it in an upcoming issue after getting a hands-on up-close look at it during a recent installation.
Birth of an Idea
The 6400 COMPACT was born out of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the early stages, it was believed that the coronavirus that led to COVID could be transmitted by touching surfaces that contained the virus.
Several security companies, including Allegion, came out with quick, low-cost mechanical solutions or germ-resistant coatings that were aimed at promoting a healthy environment at the office, school or anywhere else people might gather. Other companies dipped into their product catalogs and began to market products, such as touchless actuators, that were created years before to address other issues. Within weeks, “touchless” or “hands-free” became buzzwords.
In this atmosphere, Lacy says, Allegion’s door group got down to the business of creating a new product that could fit this new market demand, with several philosophies to guide their work.
“Creating a more accessible building has always been our kind of a ‘north star,’” he says. “But on top of that, creating a healthy environment was our goal. People were looking for a better touchless solution.”
The group also wanted to produce something that could be retrofit, which would save installers time and customers money.
After a period in spring 2020 of “getting our bearings,” according to Lacy, the entire process of developing the 6400 COMPACT took about a year, from assembling the crew mid-2020 to the product’s release in August 2021. He says the product is aimed particularly at free-swinging single-door applications, such as bathrooms or offices.
Open & Close
A large factor in the 6400 COMPACT’s development was the selection of the particular door closer that the operator would be combined with. Lacy says the 4040XP surface-mounted closer was chosen because it was believed that that model was the brand’s most trustworthy, heavy-duty closer.
“We’re expecting our customers to add [the door operator] on not only to a new closer, but closers that have been operating for a while,” he explains. “So we wanted to make sure that that the opening that users will be upgrading will be in good condition. We felt that the 4040 gave us the best chance of encountering openings like that.”
Lacy points to the 404XP’s 30-year warranty as further impetus: “People change, right? The closer is going to live through a lot of different things, and we wanted to make sure that we gave an upgrade path for our customer base as well as flexibility to our channel partners so they can mix and match as well as upgrade as the opening evolves.”
He adds that, as with any product upgrade, assessing the health of the door and any hardware remains paramount before the upgrade can take place.
Lacy hints at the possibility of expanding the 6400 COMPACT to other door closers in LCN’s lineup but provides no concrete details except in stating that it likely won’t be made to fit with other manufacturers’ door closers.
Easy Does It
The 6400 COMPACT, like any automatic door operator, can be actuated via a standard push-button or a wave-to-open touchless actuator, either wired or battery-powered. Lacy says LCN bundles are available that pair the door operator with a touchless actuator, but any manufacturer’s model will work.
Although it was created primarily to address accessibility and health, the 6400 COMPACT also was created with the installer firmly in mind, Lacy says.
“We wanted people who are not familiar with auto operators to install this,” he says. “If you know how to install a closer, [installing the operator] should not be an issue for you, because it's an add-on solution on top of the closer.” He compares it with adding electronic latch retraction to an exit device.
The relative small size of the product makes it so installation can be a one-person job, and instructions are as simple as a scan of a QR code that provides a step-by-step guide on your mobile device. The 6400 COMPACT can be configured for plug-in power or wired into the building’s electricity.
Setup is similarly quick and easy. Calibration includes visual and audible feedback, and three dials control the opening speed, power boost and hold-open timing for the door.
The 6400 COMPACT’s modular design that allows it to be attached to an existing or new 4040XP door closer by using a mounting plate and four screws makes for easy maintenance in terms of later adjustments to the settings. It also allows the components to be repaired or replaced without removing or replacing the entire unit. This was done for the benefit of the security pro.
“For existing operators, the part that’s frequently replaced is the motor gearbox, as well as the controller and the arm,” Lacy says. “We wanted to make sure that this design continues to enable customers to do that quickly and easily.”
For more information, go to www.lcnclosers.com.