Wireless Can Fine-Tune Your Access Business

[IMAGE]Wireless-Can-Fine-Tune-Your-Access-Business.jpg[/IMAGE]More than ever, fierce competition in the security marketplace is creating an environment of survival of the fittest. Security professionals need to deftly exploit opportunities when they arise. Access control is one branch of security where this trend is plainly observable as dealers and integrators are beginning to implement wireless solutions for their customers when possible.


A wireless locking system frequently takes an estimated 45 minutes to install compared to an average of eight hours for a wired solution. Since there is no wire to install, workers can be in and out within an hour. Of course, the absence of wire also means material savings, bringing in estimates that are lower than wired solutions.


The gist: The capacity to provide lower estimates and install more jobs faster can mean the difference between consistently winning the bid or losing to the competition.


Along with educating themselves, dealers and integrators pursuing wireless access control installations will likely have to contend with a steep learning curve on the part of potential clients. A good example is security directors who are distrustful of what they don’t understand. Some are concerned that wireless solutions may not be reliable, although major companies and agencies around the world are using wireless access control successfully.


Manufacturers can supply security professionals with case studies and referral contacts to eliminate that very concern. But most importantly, dealers and integrators will need a foundation of understanding the wireless design process. These solutions include the user friendly deployment of devices that eliminate wiring between panels and gates, panels and elevators and even between buildings.


Wireless System Design Focuses on the Panel Interface Module

Wireless indoor systems typically operate up to 200 feet between the door and the wireless panel interface module (PIM). PIMs are very important to a system because they bridge the wireless lock at the door to a new or existing access control system, including both wired and wireless types. This means customers will have only one server to support, one database to manage and one screen to monitor.


PIMs transmit in a 360° pattern and communicate with assigned wireless devices. Signals can also pass through walls, including plasterboard, cinder block and brick, which means installers won’t need line of sight for simplified system designs. This makes wireless especially helpful for retrofit installations such as in historic buildings with thick concrete, brick or rock walls, and where a facility’s design demands a complex and expensive wiring.


Even more exciting for installers, the actual design of the system is quite simple — once it is explained.



For starters, think of the 200-foot wireless coverage radius as a cell measuring 275 feet by 275 feet (75,625 square feet). Now, lay these square cells directly onto a floor plan, which will determine the minimum number of PIMs necessary to cover the space (see Figure 1). Also, count the number of doors requiring access control to ensure sufficient PIM capacity. Then, determine the best locations for the PIMs. Most installers prefer the IT or telecommunication closets. Adjust the squares appropriately. Lastly, test the layout. That is the whole job in general.


Now, let’s look at the specifics. Installers cannot expect to deploy PIMs in just any location. Follow these suggestions for optimal installation:

• Place PIMs in a secure, central location

• Avoid nearby metal objects, like ductwork and circuit breaker panels

• Mount PIMs at least 6 feet high to broadcast over obstructions

• Consider proximity to the access control interface

• Locate the PIM within 200 feet of the wireless lock

• Do not design multiple floors to work off of a single PIM


Installers need to be aware of any potential radio frequency (RF) problems, such as metal obstructions or other 900MHz equipment. Obvious obstructions include elevator shafts, metal staircases and metal lockers. However, there are other obstructions that might not be so obvious, including ventilation ducts, metal-clad walls and shielded walls. Verify this with the facility manager. Are there any obstructions in the line of sight? If so, adjust the PIM location to avoid them.


It’s also a good practice to verify coverage using a wireless test kit during the design phase. This practice can provide peace of mind that the final installation will be a success. Just as you would when designing a wired access control system, detail the access points.


The next step is to detail product requirements for each opening. Schlage developed a site survey to help with this process, which can determine lock type and other specifications such as finish, lever style and key override.


End users will also have to decide the type of credentials they want to use. This includes the make of the proximity card or the type of magnetic stripe or smart card. In an approach no different from wired access systems, jot down the specific opening requirements:

• Door type (single, double or glass)

• Buzz-in (handy for unlocking doors for people without access credentials)

 Scheduled unlocks

• Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) entry points

• Power availability

• Usage (cardholder traffic)

• Door status (monitor when doors are opened and closed)

• Checkpoints (validate card holder credentials)

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