Accessing Light Commercial Sales

It’s All About the Code

Because codes can be easily and quickly added or deleted, security can be enhanced by increasing the frequency with which codes are changed, while also cutting down on the labor time and cost to accomplish this. Likewise, this translates into a lower cost of ownership and reduced liabilities. The moment an employee who knows an access code leaves the company, security is at risk if steps to prevent future access are not taken.

As soon as an employee quits the company or a new employee joins the organization, administrators can immediately delete an old code/credential or add a new code/credential at the keypad to maintain increased security. This provides considerable cost savings associated with having to continually rekey a lock whenever an employee leaves or mechanical keys go missing. Such a locking system is a perfect solution for commercial applications like managed properties, restaurants, retail establishments or other small businesses where key control and security is a concern.

To easily upgrade from traditional mechanical or electrical locksets, programmable locking systems are available that fit standard ANSI/BHMA cylindrical and mortise lock preps with minor modifications. They accommodate 1½- to 2¾-inch door widths with one model, without the need for spacers or shim kits. For residential 13/8-inch door applications, residential door thickness kits are available. For retrofitting older, numerical code locksets, doorplates cover door preparation left from prior installations.

Customer facilities with cylindrical locks, mortise locks and aluminum door latches can now utilize one common solution to meet basic access control needs.

Sell Clients on Retrofit Solutions

Moving from mechanical locks to an electronic locking system is the first step many organizations take toward total, integrated access control. Emphasize to your customers how their new electronic locks are letting them retrofit doors to become part of an overall system, using the same credentials throughout a facility or even multiple facilities.

Suggest to the customer that, in the future, they could ultimately intermix credentials, using systems as simple as the electronic PIN-enabled lock or as sophisticated as online wireless configurations that connect doors or even elevators to existing access control systems.

In many cases, your initial retrofit from mechanical to electronic locking systems will skip over the aforementioned standalone programmable electronic lock and choose instead standalone, programmable, battery-powered locks that are networked through software to provide audit-trail capability and time-based scheduling for restricting access.

No matter the credential used, the devices are easily programmed on a laptop or PDA. New users, access points and access privileges can be entered into the system in seconds. They also provide an audit trail capability. Typical per-door costs of computer-managed (CM) locks average less than $1,000, including installation costs. Such systems facilitate simplified, uniform access control administration. These battery-powered, standalone locksets and exit trim always provide code-compliant free egress and are very easy to retrofit.

 CM Systems Provide Flexibility

A CM system can support a variety of credential types including PIN codes, magnetic stripe cards, iButtons, proximity cards and biometrics. Users and access points can quickly and easily be added and deleted from the system as well as assignment of access privileges. The system operator can easily control both users and access points based on time of day, day of week, credential needed and/or period of time. Reports show audit trails retrieved, access privileges granted and time functions established by either the user or door.

With a laptop or PDA, the administrator goes to the opening, plugs in the interface to the locking system right at the door, and uploads new access instructions to the lock whil
e downloading audits of who has been through the door and when.

Access rights can even be assigned to users by credential and/or time function, providing the system operator with maximum flexibility to control the flow of people into, through and out of a facility. Selectable functions include time zones, time activation and expiration, auto unlock time scheduling, first person in and holiday scheduling. A variety of reports are available to help manage a facility more efficiently including audit trail data, access privileges data, and time function schedules by user or door.

Whatever the credential, administrators can perform various functions including momentary and maintained access, lockout, one-time use, supervised and even linked access in which a code must be used in tandem with a credential, such as at a bank’s ATM.

Linked access reduces the probability of lost or stolen credentials from providing unauthorized access. There are CM locking devices on the market that can manage up to 1,000 users per opening (which is very useful for facilities with a high turnover). They will also provide audits on the past 1,000 events that occur at the opening.

Ease of Open Architecture

Beyond CM locking systems are hardwired locks, which let users use CM-type lock monitor door openings with their own existing, third-party access control panels and software. That means customers don’t have to go to the locks themselves to program them or download audit trail information.

Using an open architecture platform, the dealer/installer seamlessly connects the specially designed door lock to a panel interface board (PIB) that connects to any present access control panel. There is no need for separate components or multiple manufacturers’ products. Users access the lock with either magnetic stripe or proximity cards.

As a result, credential data and door status information required by the access control panel, such as door position or request-to-exit status, are passed via RS-485 communication from the lock to the panel by the use of the PIB provided with the locks. The access control panel maintains control of the lock status and status indication on the VIP locks as it does with present electric strike or electromagnetic locking systems. All monitoring is captured at the remote monitoring station.

Regardless of software employed, end users have the benefits of a networked system without the costs. Access and profile management is greatly improved without adding any extra software. Users and installing dealers can mix and match the best type of front-end solution for each opening without adding complexity to the system.

The system operator can easily control both users and access points based on time of day, day of week, credential needed and/or period of time. Reports show audit trails retrieved, access privileges granted and time functions established by either the user or door.

The Long and Short of IT

When taking a light commercial customer from the mechanical world to electronic standalone or networked world, the transition does not have to take place overnight and it does not need to be total.

Adding electronic locking systems to access points as time and budgets allow is a sensible migration plan for any organization, no matter how large or small. A large facility may have dozens of doors with varying levels of security needs. A broom closet may be adequately secured with a simple offline lock, while surveillance or computer rooms may demand high-security locks that are integrated with access control systems. The right lock system for a given door may be found anywhere along the electronic migration path.

Andy Geremia is responsible for the Schlage wireless and card reader product lines. He is an Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies veteran who, most recently, was active in channel market training. He can be reached via E-mail at

If you enjoyed this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

Security Is Our Business, Too

For professionals who recommend, buy and install all types of electronic security equipment, a free subscription to Security Sales & Integration is like having a consultant on call. You’ll find an ideal balance of technology and business coverage, with installation tips and techniques for products and updates on how to add sales to your bottom line.

A free subscription to the #1 resource for the residential and commercial security industry will prove to be invaluable. Subscribe today!

Subscribe Today!

Get Our Newsletters