Access Control: ROI on EAC

July 10, 2014
Today's access control systems offer multiple opportunities to sell your customers on making an upgrade

In today’s selling environment, a successful integrator must go beyond the original customer request when creating and specifying an access control system to ensure a proposal stands out against the competition. Going “above and beyond” isn’t about the “bells and whistles” — but instead about solid return on investment.

In many companies, the decision to implement, upgrade or extend electronic access control will be driven by solutions that deliver a reliable return on investment, so including an ROI metric in your proposal could very well mean the difference between receiving and losing the order.

The good news is this is easier than you think. There are many elements that can generate ROI. Designing an open platform system is a good first step to showing ROI. This provides the end-user with many options now and in the future, rather than locking them into proprietary technology that forces them into a specific product or brand — and another significant investment if they want to upgrade over time. Wireless solutions often enable end-users to expand the number of openings that can be secured within the same cost parameters as a wired solution because eliminating the need to run wires to each opening dramatically reduces labor costs.

Open Platforms: Making it Easy to be Smarter

Open architecture platforms provide flexible, adaptable and scalable solutions that maximize ROI. For starters, open platform hardware works with popular industry-leading access control systems to provide the broadest set of features and capabilities. Besides access control, open architecture can extend the solution to support various applications such as biometric templates and cashless payments, secure printing and more —enabling the end-user to leverage the investment for better productivity.

Locking systems that combine the electrified lock, reader, door position and REX switches together into one device are another effective means to leverage an end-user’s overall investment. Combined locking systems simplify installation as well as the connection to the access control panel.

Many open platform readers also work with a variety of credential technologies, including PINs, proximity or smart cards, and mobile credentials. If you recommend a combined lock/reader that is modular, then making future upgrades from one credential to another or from a wireless to a network system will simply be a matter of replacing components. This provides another way to pre-engineer and minimize future expenditures.

The Soon-To-Be Credential of Choice

Smart cards are quickly becoming the credential of choice. If your customer currently uses magnetic stripe or proximity cards, upgrading them to a smart credential — at approximately the same price as a proximity card — provides a higher level of security. 

Smart credentials are more secure because of advanced data encryption that makes duplication nearly impossible. They can be used to not only access physical locations but also an organization’s computer networks and logical access control system, making them convenient for payments at the cafeteria or vending machines. Companies can gain efficiencies through consolidated platforms that allow credentials to do double and triple duty, making them more important and less likely to misplace, and reducing the requirement for maintenance.

As Near Field Communications (NFC) technology comes of age and becomes resident on smartphones, more end-users will be able to leverage the “bring your own device” (BYOD) trend, having their users deploy their own smartphones as their credentials for access control, payment and more. It is reported that more than 285 million NFC-enabled smartphones were sold in 2013 and more than half the phones sold in 2015 will be NFC-capable.

Multi-Technology Readers: The Future is Now

With smart credentials gaining ground, it is important from an ROI standpoint that your clients begin to prepare for smart credential and NFC deployment, even if the facility currently prefers proximity, magnetic stripe or keypad readers. If a new reader is needed or your customer is not willing to upgrade to open architecture smart credential solutions, recommend incorporating multi-technology readers that offer the ability to read different kinds of credentials in a single unit so that, when the switch to smart credentials comes about, they will not have to tear out and re-install readers. During the transition, the end-user can use both their old credentials and new smart credentials.

Most multi-technology readers also support higher security, enabling the end-user to institute multi-factor authentication. Security is greatly enhanced when both a card and a PIN are required to enter restricted areas.

Wireless Extends Reach

The use of wireless, particularly on existing buildings, eliminates any hardwiring of networked card readers, door position switches and request-to-exit switches. It reduces costs significantly, negates disruption to the facility during installation, speeds up installation and maintains building aesthetics by avoiding the need to run wires that cannot be concealed. For those concerned about hacking, each RF transmission is encrypted with AES-128 bit keys to provide virtually uncompromised security. This is the same that is preferred by most governments.

Many applications that are problematic with hard wiring become easy to implement with wireless access control, producing faster ROI. Consider second-story entrances, for example. Cost and complexity are often directly related to building use and type of construction. A wireless reader interface connects the reader to the access control system without having to run wire up and over the ceiling.

Additionally, extending access control to remote buildings and storage sheds is simplified by using wireless technology that seamlessly integrates into existing access control systems. Communication range can be up to 1,000 feet with a clear line of sight, and remote antennas can increase that distance. A key selling point is that this option totally eliminates the need to invest in trenching to run wires underground.

Wireless solutions can also enable end-users to utilize one credential for multiple applications. For example, employees can use the same card to enter the parking lot that they use to gain access to the building. This solution’s ease of installation is augmented if you select a system that includes a wireless gate kit that provides open architecture devices that are compatible with popular Wiegand and Clock and Data format readers.

Restricting access via elevators to specific floors also can be simplified with wireless access control. A wireless elevator kit eliminates the need to run traveling cables inside elevator shafts up to 300 yards, a costly practice that can be unreliable because of all the electrical noise being generated in the shaft. Wireless technology thrives in this environment and provides consistent, reliable data transport that does not wear out. The wireless alternative can save thousands of dollars per elevator, often coming in at one-third the cost of hardwired alternatives.

Using a wireless portable reader allows a facility’s perimeter to be extended at a moment’s notice. Readers can also be used for real-time validation of credentials at remote or temporary access points, such as construction sites, remote job sites, muster stations, temporary entrances or event entry points. If the locale is beyond 1,000 feet, a reader can typically work in cache mode to keep a database of valid access grants.

ROI: The Key to Success

Showing your customer how you can provide a system that safeguards their people and property is certainly the first step in making a sale; however, being able to do more things within the same budget, while also providing efficient opportunities for future upgrades, will set you apart from your competitors and position you as a trusted partner with a true interest in the success of your customer. Ask your manufacturer if you can meet with one of their hardware consultants to help you prepare your proposal and bid. These experts can really help you showcase the extra value you bring to the project.

Minu Youngkin is Integrator Marketing Manager for Allegion. To request more information about the company, please visit

About the Author

Minu Youngkin

Minu Youngkin is Integrator Marketing Manager for Allegion. To request more information about the company, visit