Secure your business with access-control upgrades
By helping your customers improve security, convenience and control, you can improve your bottom line. As you move toward providing better security solutions, you’ll open the door to a growing source of income.
Why add electronic security?
When your customers’ security needs increase, access-control solutions tend to follow a security migration path that begins with basic mechanical keys and progresses in stages through patent-protected and higher security keying systems into programmable and computer-managed electronic locks.
Typically, the average glazing contractor and glass-shop owner has been more comfortable with the familiar mechanical keyed locks and other mechanical door hardware, but new versions of electronic locks make it easier for glass-shop employees and glaziers to expand into this area. These self-contained, easy-to-install units eliminate separate power supplies, power transfers and fishing wires through existing walls and door frames.
“People feel more secure with a card reader or keypad, but we make more money selling systems than with standard locks,” says Bob Burgess, partner for Calvin Co., a glass company in
The security migration path
Until recently, the first step in moving up from mechanical keys was simply a keypad-operated mechanical lock. These are operated by personal-identification-number codes suitable for traffic control and areas with minimal security needs. Mechanically programmable locks of this type are easy to install and use, but may not provide more security than a key. Someone can steal a code by looking over a person’s shoulder while they punch in the code. A code also may be less secure because managers often don’t change their codes when an employee leaves.
Glazing contractors now can help their customers move beyond mechanically programmable locks with products such as the Schlage King Cobra, an architecturally designed, manually programmable electronic access-control lock. A narrow stile version of the King Cobra is designed for a variety of glass or aluminum doors where latches, deadbolts and exit devices secure the openings.
Until now, the aluminum storefront market has been largely neglected by access-control manufacturers, making it necessary to hard-wire and install an electric strike, keypad, motion sensor and power supply when greater security was required. There was no other way to improve security for the estimated 7 million of these narrow-stile doors already in the field.
Manually programmable electronic locks provide a solid choice for facilities with a limited number of users and access points. A step above the strictly mechanical push-button lock, they also remove the worry of using up the 17 or 19 codes currently available on older locks. These programmable locking systems operate on four off-the-shelf, AA alkaline batteries, providing 80,000-plus cycles or approximately three years of use.
By combining a keypad with an iButton or key-card electronic credential, the Schlage King Cobra requires both what you know—the code—and what you have—the iButton—to gain access. This provides a higher level of security than either individually.
The next step in an intelligent migration from mechanical locks to total integrated access control involves computer-managed locking systems. CM locks are ideal where older doors or facilities need to be retrofitted with higher-security locks. CM locking systems offer many of the benefits of a networked, hard-wired system, without the higher cost and care associated with routing network cable. These standalone, programmable, battery-powered locks are networked through software to provide audit trails and time-based scheduling for restricting access.
Whatever the credential used, everything is programmed by user-friendly software from a laptop or personal digital assistant, including the locks, access trim, and the off-line hard-wired controller that manages electric strikes and magnetic locks. New users, access points and access privileges can be entered into such as system in seconds. The systems also provide audits.
As building needs change and user needs grow, so does the level of complexity and skill. The next logical step will be a desire to have specific openings connected to a computer network, where doors can be monitored real-time and users can be added and deleted from a central monitoring station. Access-control panels that serve multiple doors, such as those from Schlage Access, become popular choices. Depending on the application and environment, it may also become necessary to run communication network wiring throughout the existing facility. Recent product developments, such as the Schlage Wyreless, have begun to provide solutions where communication between the access-control panels and the individual locks can take place via a wireless signal. This can be a significant installation cost saver.
On the upper end of the security continuum you will find fully integrated solutions that incorporate access control and closed-circuit television.
Make the move now
Moving into electronic access-control products can be a gradual process. “We need to sell them, but it takes a while to change over,” Burgess says. As with any idea, there is a learning curve. Start by taking advantage of training and service schools available through distributors and manufacturers. Then, build your knowledge from one job to the next. It will help in explaining the benefits of these products to contractors or building owners, Burgess says.
Capture this new business before it goes elsewhere.