Wireless and Cloud Access Control Solutions Offer Locksmiths Options

Feb. 4, 2019
ProdataKey provides wireless and cloud solutions that can be a game changer for locksmiths who have traditionally been comfortable with low-tech

From a security perspective, there are few technicians who know a commercial or residential door better than a locksmith. Whether it is mounting or connecting a hardware device on it, in it or around it, most locksmiths have earned their PhD. in door. So, for Jeffery Perri, the President and COO of Utah–based ProdataKey (PDK), a door hardware and software solutions provider of cloud, POE and wireless access control products, tapping into the locksmith market makes perfect sense.

Perri is confident that the company's wireless and cloud solution can be a game changer for locksmiths who have traditionally been comfortable within the narrow zone of installing hardware and then passing off the access control piece of the project to a systems integrator.

The goal of the PDK design team was to make the technology simple enough to be intuitive, easy to install and program and extremely flexible. PDK’s access control platform can mesh with existing or newly built network infrastructure. The solution provides a complete line of easy-to-implement door controllers along with its mobile interface that allows full system programming and customization from a smartphone. Perri asserts that locksmiths can now feel confident about taking control of the access control installation, whether they be small, independently-owned shops or large franchise organizations.

“What I love about locksmiths is they understand the door. They understand the hardware. So, when you say, ‘Hey, I need to put a crash bar on the store, I need to lock the store,’ they're typically not considering a maglock first. They're considering some sort of strike rod locks, crash bar, or something like that. Because they understand the door, the door's installed very, very well. Aside from the wiring of the hardware, the interface, ProdataKey is as plug and play as possible. For the traditional integrator, we make them look like heroes because they get in there, they install quicker, more efficiently,” says Perri. “For the locksmith that may not have a ton of experience in the space of access control, we also make them look like heroes and help that learning curve substantially because they can take a controller down into the wall, walk through a quick-start guide quickly, and then jump into the software. It's so intuitive and easy to use. That's what we're getting as feedback from the locksmiths is that they can get right in there and install. They're not having to go to a week-long class or even a 48-hour class or whatever it may be to understand how to do access control. A lot of these guys, because they understand the door, they find the wiring side is a little bit easier.”

It is Perri’s background as a systems integrator that fueled the development of the PDK solution. That experience set the foundation for the company’s understanding of not only how the product was to be installed but what the end-user client required to make the solution fit into their security plans. His time on the integrator’s side gave Perri and his team an appreciation of both the hardware side of the technology but also how it could be adapted to the average locksmith’s security toolkit. When the integration firm was sold off in 2011 and PDK was brought to market, they knew they had a unique and simple wireless access control solution.

” People understood it (wireless) as a solution to a problem. If they couldn't get wire to a door, whatever it may be, then they used our stuff. But we're well known now for our Ethernet network-based controllers (PoE-based controllers). We're one of the first organizations to have a full PoE with an amp and half at the door which gives you enough power to run all your devices. And of course, our wireless solution is still available as well,” Perri explains, who adds that PDK soon brought a cloud solution to market, so they could easily communicate with any door or access device from almost anywhere. The ability to manage the PDK cloud access control platform from an installation level down to the end-user management level enhances overall flexibility of use.

“We saw this as a dichotomy of market and growing gap between your residential market and your commercial market; realizing the commercial market typically ran five to 10 years behind the residential market when it came to the technology front. When you're sitting at your home and you can use your (smart)phone to turn your lights on and off, control your smoke alarm control, your thermostat, control lighting scenarios, and your TV. Then we come into our offices and wonder why we can't have a lot of that same functionality in a commercial environment. We set out to create this anywhere, anytime, any device right from my phone (in a commercial setting). I can not only access the door and get in, but I can also manage the entire system,” Perri says.

“From an end-user front or end-user perspective, I can install the hardware and then right from my ladder, pull open the ProdataKey and start managing and configuring the entire system from there. Then when it's time to grant access to the user, the end-user that's going to be managing the platform, I merely put in their email address and they're off to the races. The system is very plug-and-play and easy to use, and being mobile first, it also gives you a clean and easy platform when you're managing it from a computer, laptop, or desktop. You're just doing it directly from a browser.”

Two new solutions that were introduced this year included the cloud node and the cloud node SE (service edition). The cloud node is the main system panel and is the gateway to the pdk.io cloud platform, and it’s the only device needed to get a system up and running. It also includes a single door controller, making it perfect for single-entry jobs. The locksmith need only connect the cloud node to the door hardware, then connect it to the network. System takeovers and upgrades have also been made easy, as the cloud node conforms to existing industry standards.

The cloud node SE also offers ease of installation and is the perfect fit for any IT infrastructure and installation. The technician just slides it into any standard 19” server rack, connects it to the network, and power it on. Ultimate flexibility is achieved by using any combination of io controllers. These are cost-effective, cloud-based access control solutions for the locksmith says Perri. 

The PDK door controller line consists of the single io controller that is used for adding doors to a Cloud Node one door at a time or expanding an existing PDK system. With the option of Network, PoE, or wireless connectivity, the single io is one of the most flexible controllers on the market. Each unit is equipped with a fully supervised power circuit that monitors input, output, battery voltage, and overall controller health. For larger door configurations, The eight io controller will handle eight individual doors or 10 elevator floors. You can add the Eight Door Expander and take control of up to 16 doors or 20 elevator floors out of one 12x12 enclosure.

Perri insists that migrating locksmiths to the cloud for their access control installs is not an earth-shattering issue. He just considers it another technology weapon that is going to expand the locksmith’s potential revenue stream.

“The cloud just another starting point in a long list of different technologies. Our phones that we're talking on now are nothing other than a cloud-based technology. Using Dropbox is cloud-based technology. Using many other things that they're using every day are all cloud-based. Helping them (the locksmiths) understand that this is no different,” Perri says. “It is just creating a much easier environment, not just for them on the installation side of things, but also for the end-user. What I love is that the end-users are driving us this direction. So, really, we are there to help locksmiths understand that everything that we're touching nowadays is a cloud-based product or a cloud-based technology or has some sort of cloud-based aspect to it and that the end-users are wanting that technology and they're the ones driving it.”

Perri admits that once the locksmith community understands that, it really makes the rest of the conversation easy. He adds that it helps that the installation process is easy to grasp.

That ease of installation and low cost of entry was a prime motivator for Richard Bay Ramyon of Baytech Access Control and Mobile Security (formerly Pop-A-Lock) in Gilroy, California, to make the move to more advanced technology options. With a background in wireless EAC, Ramyon was eager to consider the PDK solutions and has been pleased with his experience to date.

“Our background is in wireless security and my personal background was as well, so their wireless access control systems caught my interest because they work in environments and installation ranges around wall and buildings to enable access control in a mesh network system, without wires. It means we can install a system more quickly and cost-effective than a wired system,” says Ramyon. “They also offer an access control system over ethernet if that is what your client needs. However, in most applications, we deal with in something like a school campus or a manufacturing plant-type environment you just don’t have the ability to wire things around the facility.

“The PDK solution almost allows us to offer a plug-and-play solution in commercial applications; and they don’t necessarily have to be large facilities, since we are certainly doing smaller businesses as well where they may only need four doors. Their technology enables you to install four separate controllers or as many as eight controllers in one box. It enables you to deliver an extremely cost-effective and install-ready system that is attractive to our perspective customers.”

Ramyon does warn that having some expertise in electronic access control and door hardware.

“If you are going to get into this type of access control, then you must be well versed installing such technologies as panic bars and electric strikes. If you are not already doing these types of jobs, then your comfort level with wireless access control is not going to be very high. If you have a good mastering of things like strikes and panic bars, then you can take your skills to the next level by incorporating access control systems with them,” adds Ramyon. “It is a larger dollar application, and while the client opportunities may be fewer for the averages locksmith, the money and opportunities are certainly real when you look at the small business market and campuses.”