A New Era in Locks

The product genre is changing; here's what it means for dealers

In 1979 a British band called The Buggles released the song, “Video Killed the Radio Star,” and it has since been re-made multiple times and remains popular to this day.   An upbeat song from a rhythmic standpoint, the actual lyrics are sad -- they speak of dreams cut short by a change in technology, the migration from radio to video, and ultimately the passing of an era.      

A parallel can be drawn to today's access control market where mechanical locks are being replaced by electronic locks.   This technological shift is most noticeable in commercial settings, especially large-scale offices where electronic access control is becoming the norm, but it also is extending to automobiles and even homes.   However, for security dealers and integrators, this isn't something to get sad about.   It's an opportunity to make access control more convenient, more efficient and more profitable.    

“When dealers and integrators look at electronic access control, they need to look at it from the door out,” said Andy Geremia , product manager, Schlage Electronics, Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, Colorado Springs , Colo. “We all need to be especially cognizant that a user might need a mechanical lock today but require a basic standalone electronic locking solution in the future.”

Looking at the big picture, Geremia urged dealers to approach access control with an eye to the future, allowing customers to later add credentials such as proximity or smart cards, video integration or even a networked system deploying both wired and wireless access. “Users need an easy migration path from one technology to the next and that's what dealers and integrators should implement from the get-go,” he explained. “It will keep them in good stead with their customers by showing them how they are able to expand customers' present systems instead of pulling out the old to install the new.”


Electronic locks are changing

Electronic locks are becoming smaller, more power-efficient, easily integrated with network solutions and in some cases simpler to install and maintain. As such, electronic locks are being deployed for a wider variety of installations.

“Electronic locks are becoming significantly more sophisticated in terms of capability and small size,” said Joseph Kingma, director of Business Development, e-Cylinders, ASSA ABLOY Retrofit Security Solutions, Medeco Security Locks Inc., Salem, Va. “ These improvements add value to dealers in terms of enabling them to offer a more robust access package to meet end-user needs and reduce the overall installation liability that can result from door and frame modifications.”

According to Martin Huddart, vice president, Electronic Access Control, ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions, New Haven, Conn., electronic locks represent one of the most lucrative segments of the access control market.  “Due to lower costs of processors and memory, electronic locks give end users many alternatives to traditional mechanical locks, and now even mechanical cylinders, for managing who has access to the opening and at what time.”  

Huddart added that many high-end locks have been introduced that communicate with a networked access control system (Wiegand /RS 485 connections, wireless connections and direct Power over Ethernet).  “These locks have converged multiple devices into a single component that saves time and money for the installer,” he noted. “The dealer who understands how to use these products to secure more openings for the end user's budget will gain more loyalty and make more profit.”


Convergence continues

“No longer are the door's hardware components merely individual entities,” said Geremia, explaining that as more components become electrified, access control functions join with egress hardware and sensors monitor the functions of mechanical hardware. “In a networked system, for example, a malfunctioning closer or latch is reported at once, which lets maintenance activities be directed when and where they are most needed.”

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