Keying in on Today’s Exceptional Utility Locks

Sept. 4, 2018
Turn those empty walls in your shop into another revenue stream

There’s a real need for utility locks in all sorts of applications, such as securing outside gates, sheds, job trailers, tool boxes, job boxes, drug cabinets, and key boxes for residential and commercial realtors. The list is extensive and virtually endless.

Whether it’s a commercial or residential application doesn’t matter. Everyone needs a utility lock sometime, and that’s where you as a locksmith come into play. For example, in an article entitled ‘The Power of Impulse Merchandising,’ published in the June issue of 2017, in Locksmith Ledger (, we discussed the value of displays filled with key blanks and other impulse items.

If you haven’t procured wall hardware displays yet, perhaps it’s a good time to do so. Fill them with keys as well as exceptional utility locks, like the ones covered in this article. Take advantage of the additional profits available to you because of impulse buying. Turn those empty walls in your shop into another revenue stream.

From a sales standpoint, it can be helpful to stock, display, and promote some of the more unusual and yet helpful locking hardware currently on the market. Some locksmiths maintain a small display on the inside panels of their service vans.

Magnetic Lock by Capitol Industries

A great example of an exceptional utility lock is the ‘Magnetic Padlock,’ manufactured by Capitol Industries Inc. (CI) of Montreal, QC, Canada. This lock entails the use of a matched magnetic puck (key) that must be presented to the lock instead of an actual key.

The primary selling point associated with this lock is the fact that the customer does not have to insert and turn a key to operate it. He or she can carry a toolbox or other gear while unlocking the Magnetic Padlock with the other hand. And, as amazing as it may sound, “there are over 200,000 magnetic key codes,” says CI. Thus, the chance of compromise is extremely slim.

The CI Magnetic Padlock is made of solid brass and is water-tight so it will withstand the harshest environments for a reasonably long period of time. A series of demanding tests, such as prolonged exposure to saltwater, demonstrates the lock’s ability to operate as advertised. The reason for the success of this saltwater test, according to the manufacturer, is precision machining. CI says that the manufacturer’s specs are so tight that the lock is virtually watertight.

Another test administered by CI demonstrates the Magnetic Padlock’s strength by its ability to repel brute force attacks. Videos on CI’s website that demonstrate both tests.

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FJM Combo Padlocks

Another unique utility lock is the combination padlock offered by FJM Security Products of Lynnwood, WA. The attraction with combo locks is, and always has been the fact that you don’t have to carry a key. A four-digit code is all that’s needed and the majority of FJM locks allow the owner to change the code whenever they want to. A small, inexpensive version with a pre-set combo, Model SX-579, is available to complete your stock.

If you have an industrial client who has an army of outdoor sheds, utility rooms, tool cribs, and other assets to protect, many of which are located at multiple locations over a number of states, the FJM product line of four-digit combination locks is ideal because they can be programmed so all locks, no matter where they happen to be, will work with a single code.

Models SX-873 through SX-975 feature combo dials on the front with over 10,000 possible combinations. The user can change them at any time using a small screw on the bottom of the lock.

According to FLM, “No change key/pin is needed. Use a screwdriver, coin or paper clip and never worry about losing a change key. Simply have it on the current opening combination to change the code.”

FJM’s Model SX-575 also comes equipped with a master key that can be used to override the locked condition of the padlock, just in case the existing combo is lost or forgotten.

FJM also makes a round, high-security combo lock, the SX-790. This padlock is often used on outdoor storage units with roll-down doors. An advantage is the limited physical access that a criminal has with the shackle. This makes it difficult to impossible to cut. The body of the lock also is made of hard stainless, which makes it even a better investment for high-security applications.

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HES K100

The K100 made by HES, an Assa Abloy company, provides Grade 1, high-security protection for drawers and cabinets by using encrypted wireless technology. Common uses include drug cabinets and cash drawers. The K100 provides an enormous benefit because, through wireless technology, ordinary access control credentials associated with full-size electronic access control (EAC) systems can be used to control who can access the lock, when, and on what day.

According to Assa Abloy. “The K100 expands the reach of access control systems to drawers, cabinets, and lockers through the use of existing ID badges. The K100 uses local wireless communication between the lock and an Aperio hub to connect to an access control system, eliminating the cost and difficulty of physically wiring access control to the cabinet.”

Assa Abloy’s Aperio Technology features a 128-bit encrypted communication link between the lock and a wireless gateway, which is hardwired to the access control system. This saves the expense and time it usually takes to install metallic wiring between the access control system head-end and every K100 in the system. It also saves drilling the width of each man door in order to install wiring to the K100 locks.

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Master Lock Bluetooth™ Tech

It’s sometimes surprising what innovation will bring even where it involves a simple padlock. The model 4400D (indoor) and 4401DLH (outdoor) Bluetooth™ operated padlocks, manufactured by Master Lock, are based on a no-key premise. Instead of buttons or code wheels, these locks use an ordinary Smartphone with Bluetooth™.

According to Master Lock, “Download the Master Lock Vault app to register the lock and sync it to the smart device. Once the Master Lock Bluetooth Padlock is registered and connected, the lock will unlock upon the touch of a button when it is within range of the Bluetooth-enabled device. The padlocks offer intuitive visual color cues for lock status (shown below): blue indicates locked or communicating with a device, green indicates open or unlocked and waiting to be opened, yellow indicates a low battery and red indicates an invalid keypad entry.”

One application where this technology shines is in the realty business. Using Master Lock’s door knob or wall-mounted Bluetooth™ lockboxes, numerous smartphones can be programmed to operate them so numerous realtors from different agencies can gain ready access during the showing of a common home.

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Medeco XT 

There’s a growing need for high-security access control with respect to padlocks and other types of utility hardware. This is especially critical in applications like power company substations, water treatment plants, and other mission-critical facilities.

According to an executive brief entitled ‘Power Utilities Physical Security Regulatory Compliance, “...the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has ordered the imposition of mandatory physical security standards (for substations) in 2014.”

The Medeco XT electronic intelligent keyed padlocks and other utility locking hardware are designed to comply with these new standards, which were created by the Federal Government for high-security applications.

The XT system features special programmable keys that not only can be used to operate padlocks and other types of locking hardware, but also common, ordinary knob and key locks, plus others. An audit trail is stored and made available to those who manage the system.

Medeco says that these locks install quickly and easily without the need for wiring, a power supply, or changes to existing door hardware. Cloud-based hosting services ensure that a facility’s database is always secure, always accessible, and always up-to-date.

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Bolt: Single Lock for All Occasions

Although the focus of this article is on ‘utility locks,’ the BOLT product, manufactured by STRATTEC, goes that extra mile to unify the operation of all the locks your clients may have, even those found in motor vehicles. A single ignition key can be used in all your customer’s delivery trucks, service vans, etc., in addition to BOLT utility locks. What a powerful selling point!

“The first time you insert your ignition key into the lock the spring-loaded plate tumblers move up and down until they are matched exactly to your key. As you rotate your key for the first time the position of these plate tumblers is permanently set to your key,” STRATTEC says.

Currently, the BOLT padlock series includes a 5/8” and 1/2” Receiver Lock, 2” Padlock, 6’ Cable Lock, Coupler Pin Lock, and a Toolbox Latch, plus others.

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