Padlocks Go High-Tech

May 2, 2017
New padlocks feature Bluetooth technology, hands-free operation and convenience features, along with hardened components and anti-bump technology

Physical security is one of those things that no one wants to talk about, at least until a thief comes along and lets the horse out of the barn. One example of a recent break-in involves a new padlock installation and the loss of a new Cub Cadet riding mower equipped with a 24 HP V-Twin Hydrostatic gas-fired engine, an Enduro Series 50 in. cutting platform, a triple bagger, and a sun shade. Total loss was in excess of $2500. The homeowner had recently installed a traditional mechanical padlock and hasp on the main barn door because of his recent purchase. But it wasn’t enough to stop a determined burglar.

According to a responding sheriff deputy, the problem was misapplication and poor judgement on the part of the homeowner who installed the padlock and hasp. First, he used four of the eight screws provided to secure the hasp to the barn doors. Secondly, he used a large hasp with a relatively small padlock. Third, the officer said that the homeowner did not do an effective risk assessment because if he had, he would have used all eight screws along with a larger, more capable padlock. Clearly, the homeowner should have called a local locksmith to do the job.

As seen in the barn theft cited above, it is often the simple things that trip you up. Who would have thought that a misapplied hasp and an undersized padlock would have caused so much fuss? This is why the selection of the right hasp and other accessories are just as important as choosing the right padlock. As locksmiths, it’s our job to evaluate and analyze risk and to translate all of that into the right protective equipment for the job.

Padlocks have been in use for a very long time. They existed in the days of the Roman Empire  (500 BC to 300 AD) and in China since the late Eastern Han Dynasty (25 to 220 AD). In fact, the word Padlock originated between 850 AD and early 1000 AD. At that time, just as now, they were used to protect livestock, implements, and other valuables. Isn’t it funny that the more things change, the more they remain the same?

Today’s padlocks are not just stronger, but now they’re more intelligent—nearly on par with a full-size, modern, cloud-driven access control system. Come with me for a walk down a growingly high-tech highway where padlocks will accept your car key and some of them no longer require any key at all. Others don’t require even a nudge to operate, whether it’s one, 10, or 100 of them. 


Today’s padlocks have recently entered the high-tech world of IT (Information Technology). The technology behind many of these padlocks is anything but common and certainly not traditional. One of those technologies is Bluetooth®--a  peer-to-peer, radio-frequency  (RF) tech that allows mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablets, wearables, and other devices, to talk back and forth, even over the Internet. Because it uses wireless communication, there are no cables to install as is the case with many access control systems. This simplifies and reduces the overall cost of an installation.

Here’s how Bluetooth® works with a high-tech padlock. Once a smartphone is paired with a padlock, the latter is able to communicate with a computer server somewhere on site or on the Internet. This offers a high degree of versatility to what a locksmith and his client can do while reducing the initial cost of ownership.

According to Bluetooth SIG Inc. of Kirkland, WA, “Communication between Bluetooth® devices happens over short-range, ad hoc networks known as piconets. A piconet is a network of devices connected using Bluetooth technology. When a network is established, one device takes the role of the master while all the other devices act as slaves. Piconets are established dynamically and automatically as Bluetooth devices enter and leave radio proximity” (Bluetooth® 101, For additional information on Bluetooth®, go to

One or more smartphones or other mobile devices act as masters to one or more Bluetooth® padlocks. The masters along with a number of padlocks constitute a working piconet even at an Enterprise level. For additional information on piconets, go to

A second extremely helpful behind-the-scenes technology is that of WiFi, also known as 802.11x, ‘x’ being the current or past version or standard number. WiFi is commonly used to connect a mobile smart device to the Internet, be it through a single wireless router, computer, or an on-site LAN (Local Area Network). In one case, WiFi connects the user’s smartphone to a cloud-based server over the Internet and Bluetooth® then connects the padlock to the cloud server. For more information on WiFi, see ‘WiFi Direct’ at

Increased Strength & Features

Casings and shanks are hardened like never before, anti-bump protection is now common, pick your key--any key technology is now in place along with a host of other features that make today’s padlocks and accessories better than ever at protecting horses, tractors, tools, personal effects contained in lockers at your local  K12, and much more.

Network technology also has entered the picture allowing users to benefit in a number of ways. Examples include hands-free access, stored access audit trail data, thousands of user codes that can be programmed in minutes instead of hours, the use of a cloud service that makes all of the above faster and simpler to expedite even on an enterprise level.

The bottom line is that many features that were once only available in a full-size access control system are now available using a simple, yet sophisticated network of padlocks. Not only that, but your padlocks can now be configured and managed using the very same software that your clients use with their campus or enterprise access control system.

Who would have ever imagined? Well, someone did. 

Hands-Free Operation

Hands-free operation, which is one of the most amazing features offered by some of the high-tech padlocks on the market, works when an authorized smartphone approaches within Bluetooth® range, which is commonly 20 to 30 feet. A myriad of signals are then sent to and from the lock through the smartphone to a special cloud-based processing center on the Internet.

The result of all this is an automatic response at the padlock. The padlock will unlock or it will ignore the approaching person. Possible reasons for the latter includes exceptions in programming such as the user is not authorized to open ‘this’ particular padlock at ‘this’ particular time on ‘this’ particular day. All of this takes place in a matter of seconds using the cellular system or a local Internet-connected WiFi system. 

In closing, there are several reasons why you, as a locksmith, should expand your horizons into the high-tech, networking world of today’s modern padlocks. That reason is RMR (Recurring Monthly Revenue). In this case, it’s the cloud-based padlocks that will provide you with a huge increase in cash flow over the life of a service contract, which is often potentially 36 to 60 months. Keep in mind that you may not get rich off one or two clients, but when you sell this service to a large number of people, the residual income will add up fast.

Find out how to expand into network-oriented services by reading the ‘How to Get There’ sidebar on page XX. 

Product Choices

Here are some of the high-tech, high strength padlocks on the market today.

FJM Features Padlock Designed to Repel Bolt Cutters: Frank J. Martin (FJM) of Lynnwood, WA, offers the SK-790, a quality-made combination lock equipped with a capacity of 10K combinations/users. This high-quality padlock features a shield-hardened steel shackle that makes it hard to compromise. The hidden shackle eliminates vulnerable points on the lock that many times can be compromised. For additional information, visit FJM’s website at

PB300 by Pacific Lock Company: The PB300 is a keyless padlock that uses Bluetooth® to communicate with authorized users through their mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and keyfobs using a wireless tech called PAC-BLU. Designed and manufactured by Pacific Lock Co. of Valencia, California, the PB300 utilizes a cloud-based service called 'Sentinel' that a locksmith can use to program user data including the enrollment criteria of multiple users/mobile devices.  For additional information on the PB300, the Sentinel, and the PAC-BLU wireless system, go to:

KonnectLock, formerly WatchLock by Mul-T-Lock: KonnectLock, manufactured by Mul-T-Lock of Hackensack, NJ, looks like a common padlock with the exception that it provides many of the same features and benefits found in a traditional full-size access control system. According to Mul-T-Lock, the KonnectLock is an intelligent alarm--locking solution combining a high--security mechanical padlock with an advanced GPS-locating system with mobile communication. KonnectLock automatically notifies the user when his or her assets have been accessed, as well as their physical location. For more information on the KonnectLock, visit:

The Bolt Padlock can be Keyed to a Car or Truck Key: According to STRATTEC Security Corporation of Milwaukee, WI, the Bolt Padlock 2.0 is designed to key itself to an automotive ignition key. The Bolt Padlock 2.0 is programmed during first use. When a driver inserts the ignition key into the padlock cylinder, spring-loaded plate tumblers move up and down until they are matched exactly to that key. The first time the key is rotated, the cylinder is uniquely coded to that key. For more information on the Bolt Padlock 2.0, visit STRATTEC's website at:

Master Lock Offers Bluetooth Enabled Indoor and Outdoor Padlocks: The model 4400D indoor and 4401DLH outdoor padlocks uses Bluetooth® technology to communicate with a client's mobile devices, such as a smartphone or tablet. Masterlock indoor and outdoor end points will automatically unlock the padlock when a verified, enabled cell-- or Internet--connected smartphone is within Bluetooth® range. For additional information, go to: