Unwiring the Door

March 21, 2012
At ISC West, ASSA ABLOY moves the electronic access door in a wireless direction

Electronic access control at the door used to be the domain of a tangle of wires: you might have the electromagnetic latch and the magnetic door stop/holder, the striker, the door position switch, the card reader, the panel, maybe even an RTE (request to exit) button. But that's changing thanks to wireless technology say ASSA ABLOY's Vice President for Electronic Access Control Martin Huddart.

His firm, like many others, is showcasing wireless access control solutions at the ISC West tradeshow next week, and SecurityInfoWatch.com reached out to Martin to talk about the applications for this type of technology. Notably, ASSA ABLOY (booth 11065 at ISC West 2012) has the Aperio line of products that basically links a wireless hub to your traditional access control panel, and then that hub "talks" wirelessly to wireless locksets on the doors.

The value proposition
Huddart's technology solution isn't supposed to be a game changer – it's supposed to be a game adjuster. It uses existing access control investments and skills that dealers already have. More importantly, said Huddar, "It leverages existing panel infrastructure that buildings already have. It eliminates wires from the panel to the door components like the reader, strike, door position switch. When that wiring goes away, and the lock communicates to hub, it saves on the wiring effort."

According to Huddart, a typical wired electronic access control door opening eats up about eight hours of labor, and that's assuming you're dealing with modern construction and not historical buildings with thick walls and non-standard finishes. If you got to a wireless access control model, you cut that labor cost dramatically. He said the ASSA ABLOY team estimates it should take about one hour per door instead of eight hours, and it can be even faster if you're working on a new construction project .

The technology
The Aperio technology is largely in the hub itself. The hub connects back to your traditional access control panels (from a ton of vendors) via Wiegand style wiring or RS-485 (which is the same type of wiring used for SCSI computer peripherals). You mount a wireless locking system on your opening point (besides standard models for corporate and institutional settings, there's even a cabinet lock designed to be especially value in healthcare settings where securing cabinets is paramount, plus a mortise style replacement, a model for glass-and-aluminum retail style doors and more specialty versions), and then that wireless lock talks to the hub, which connects with the panel controller (and eventually the head-end software).

The Wiegand hub works with a single door opening, while the RS-485 hub can work with up to eight door openings and can support additional door information like battery levels on the wireless locks (it also supports longer distances from panel to hub). The wireless locks for ASSA's Aperio system come from their vendors like Sargent, Medeco, HES and Adams Rite, and Huddart says the company will be showcasing even more models at ISC West.

When to use
A high-traffic perimeter door probably should stay wired, said Huddart. "A hard-wired is fully online. You get full real-time features like the ability to do an instant lockdown. You get ability to have full schedules. Generally you do a full hard-wired access control door because you want to wire it and forget about it, so you spend the time and money up front."

The wireless solutions fit better in interior, medium security door locations, where you may have fewer door cycles, fewer users, the ability to replace batteries, and non-instantaneous synchronizing.

"This kind of technology," said Huddart, "allows you to upgrade security from doors that have typically just had a fully offline mechanical key solution. It generally gets people into access control who couldn't afford it before rather than for the people who could afford a wired solution."

About the Author

Geoff Kohl | Editorial Director/Editor-in-Chief/Associate Publisher

Geoff Kohl is editor-in-chief and associate publisher of SecurityInfoWatch.com and editorial director for Cygnus Security Media magazines Security Technology Executive and Security Dealer & Integrator (SD&I). In 2011 he founded the Secured Cities conference, an urban security/municipal video surveillance conference for law enforcement and city management. In his editorial role, he has covered the security and public safety industries for eight years, and is host of SIW's webinar training series and the SIW Radio podcast program. He is also author of The Security Check blog. He can be written to at [email protected].