Electronic access control…an opportunity or threat for locksmiths?
Customers, particularly on the small commercial side, are increasingly demanding an expanded level of security which is intelligent and flexible to changing needs and circumstances. Rising business costs and the riots last summer have had a huge impact on small businesses they’re now looking for security options which offer peace of mind and protect their investments. Especially when you consider that 62% of employees admit to taking pens and 25% to taking notebooks paper and CDs from their place of work.
One way to meet these demands is by providing electronic access control (EAC). EAC reduces the risk of intrusion and unauthorised access in a way that mechanical systems can not (no lost keys for example) but it’s often seen as an expensive and complicated solution. Now, with new models on the market which provide cost-effective proximity card and pin code access, things are changing…
Stand alone electronic and digital locks have been developed to bridge the gap between cylinder locks and high spec security solutions. They offer an increased level of security without the price tag of high end alternatives, making them a great option for small companies with modest budgets. Some of these locks can be installed and up and running in under five minutes and without the technical knowledge required when networking with other locks. These simple electronic locks require minimal back end support and do not need to be linked to a computer programme (plus staff won’t need to be trained to monitor and process the data provided). Even networked systems are becoming easier to install and these give visibility of who is going where and when by recording information on who has accessed the door.
Electronic locks and EAC systems can be used to complement mechanical systems – a single electronic lock can be used on a single door along with cylinders on other doors to provide increased security in a particular area, such as a stock room or back office. Security does not work on a ‘one size fits all’ basis, using a number of complementary options means systems can be built to meet a customer’s requirements and can be easily expanded as their needs change.
EAC should not been seen as a threat to the mechanical locksmith business and I’m not suggesting that locksmiths turn their backs on their mainstays of key cutting and master key systems. Electronic locks and systems can be provided to enhance the offering to customers, particularly small commercial clients. Customers know that the last few years have been difficult for businesses and expect them to go the extra mile to make the sale – offer them something new, something which meets their specific briefs.
EAC isn’t as complicated as it used to be, it’s an opportunity for locksmiths to diversify, increase their offering and fulfil their customers’ demand for increased security.
Colin Campbell, Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies
First printed in Locks & Security Magazine, January 2012.