Potted Parts Abound

July 3, 2017
The majority of currently available security hardware products are designed to be replaced instead of being repaired

Traditional lock products have remained the same since Egyptian times. Almost every lock cylinder ever made can be disassembled for repair. Mortise locks of yesterday contained solid brass parts and a cast iron case which was designed to last for generations to come. If wear or abuse became a factor, individual replacement parts or brazing of existing parts soon had the old locks up and running again.

Our family locksmith business repaired door closers years ago. At that time door closer housings and pistons were made from long-lasting cast iron. Door closer springs could be easily removed without danger. With a little training and some specialty tools, locksmiths could generate a good share of their income by packing and filling door closers. One locksmith company I knew developed their version of recurring monthly revenue (RMR) by having contracts with building owners who agreed to bring in small groups of door closers each month for repair. Building owners kept all their door closer hardware in good repair and the locksmith company had the guarantee of a continuing income each month.

In those halcyon days a locksmith was a true technician. He or she had to develop experience over time in order to recognize what the problem was and how to remedy the situation. The income balance weighed heavily towards service and less towards product sales.

In this electronic age a new term called 'potted' has emerged which describes parts which are sealed and designed to not be disassembled. This same term can be stretched to describe mechanical products such as door closers. From mortise locks to door closers to electronic access control products, a majority of currently available security hardware products are often designed to be replaced instead of being repaired. In addition, new innovations can make existing products obsolete even if the old products are functioning properly.

A result of this new paradigm for locksmiths is a movement away from technical know-how and towards discard and replace. With each passing day the locksmith income balance is equalizing between selling more products while providing less technical services.