Access Control Case in Point: Wireless System Helps Eliminate Break-Ins

In business for more than 27 years, Desmeules Chrysler Dodge Jeep is one of the largest automobile dealerships in Quebec. Its impressive facility spans across several buildings including its main two-story showroom with administrative offices, a parts and service center, and a second showroom for the Fiat models. While impeccable from the inside out, the dealership struggled with the common problem of after-hours theft.

“We began to embrace the concept of ‘access control’ after the dealership had been broken into several times,” says Eric Corso, the dealership’s president and general manager. “We tried several tactics to make our facility more secure, including security cameras, guard dogs, reinforced doors and window bars. Nothing worked — cameras explained what happened after the fact, alarm wires were still cut, and reinforced doors were forced open. We experienced the last straw when intruders entered our administrative offices and stole a very large deposit from our safe.

“I was discouraged and decided that it was time to get a system that was proactive, not reactive,” Corso adds.

After a site visit from a system engineer, Corso decided to implement the E-Plex Enterprise Access Control System with wireless capability and Mifare Smart Cards from Kaba Access Control. The modular system accommodates a variety of hardware options, system management tools and credential choices. The system does not require access panels, conduit runs or drilling; thus, it was easy for the dealership to install.

Corso deployed the E-Plex 5600 locks for entrances to the second floor and on administrative offices, which include a cash room with safe. All the locks accept both a PIN and card credential; however, the dealership requires a card-only credential for the office doors and a dual credential (PIN plus card combination) at the cash room. “We implemented the Kaba System in stages,” Corso explains. “First, we installed five locks and used [the supplier’s] LearnLok feature to enroll the Mifare cards using the lock’s keypad. Because LearnLok does not require software, it was a simple way to validate our new access control system at the onset.”

Subsequently, Corso transitioned to software-managed locks by adding Enterprise Software and Narrow Stile Locks on two outside glass doors. “We are very impressed with the system’s scalability and flexibility,” Corso says. “I believe in simplicity, because as soon as you make something complicated, people stop using it. [This] system supports how we operate.”

Enterprise Management

The dealership wanted a central management system for monitoring and controlling its access points. With Enterprise Software, the system administrator can manage users, access schedules and audit events from one location.

The software provides the dealership with the ability to define its door groups by service and parts; sales; and finance departments, and access schedules by work shift. A Visitor Management feature enables temporary users access for an interim period, such as the dealership’s auditors using the second-floor conference room. The system also includes the ability to manage both wireless and stand-alone locks and move a lock from one location to another.

With the wireless capability enabled, the dealership has real-time functionality without the need to visit doors when adding or deleting users or changing lock attributes. The main dashboard provides a visual representation of the system’s real-time performance and events, such as door status, signal strength, audit records, and emergency lockdown/unlock commands.
On a single screen, Corso can access key data and reports — information that pinpoints historical activities. The receptionist can also access the dashboard using a PC to view photos of people entering the building, and then lock or unlock doors with a Remote Access Command feature.

Wireless Communications

The wireless system uses ZigBee technology to provide effective communications. Its low-power digital radio signals ensure fast data transfer and long battery life. To upgrade to this option, the dealership simply added lock upgrade kits, which preserved their original lock investment on each door, and the ZigBee Gateway and Router devices enabled communication between the locks and computer without the need for network connections.

The ZigBee Gateway (required) plugged directly into the computer server via a USB cable, and an additional ZigBee Router was placed in Corso’s office for built-in redundancy. With the supplemental router, the system created its own mesh network, ensuring that the wireless network is continuously operational. In the future, Corso plans to install a second router in the service area to include additional access points around the property.

Since the system has been implemented, Corso says there have not been any break-ins, and incidents of employees and the public violating access-controlled areas has been curbed.

“The system is convenient for our operations while also being a deterrent,” Corso says. “Getting robbed throws your entire business off for three or four days — employees do not fully focus on work, productivity goes down, and more distressing than that, employees do not feel safe. Our system is more than access control, it’s our security partner.”