The Doorway to Success

A transformation in the industry is making integrators take notice of doors

While doors play an essential role in facility security, system integrators have traditionally contracted this aspect of the job out to others. And who could blame them, considering less than 5 percent of doors have online access control and the other 95 percent have either no security or simple mechanical key systems?

It didn’t make business sense for an integrator to devote much attention to this part of the market. The more glamorous above-the-ceiling applications -- controllers, cameras and host systems -- have long been the focus of their attention.

But, a transformation in the industry is making integrators take notice of doors.

Let’s start with the simplest of these advancements: the ability to secure more doors with a single credential.

This development serves as a bridge between mechanical and electromechanical technologies.

For example, electronic cylinders can now operate off a credential that incorporates both a mechanical key and an HID proximity tag, enabling the end user to combine a traditional lock and key system with a card access system without issuing multiple credentials. The result is an easy lowcost retrofit to any existing mechanical lock with much higher levels of security and flexibility.

Combining Components
One technology trend making integrators’ lives easier is the combination of components into a single device. This convergence blends two or more technologies into one hybrid product -- not unlike smart phones that combine a digital camera, an Internet browser and a music player.

These innovative doorway products typically integrate a card reader, locking device and other door monitoring functions into one component.

For example, a lock with an integrated card reader, a request-to-exit sensor and a door-position switch has a more aesthetic design and the integrator saves time and money with less wiring, drilling and cutting around the door. Many of these new integrated products also come with standard wiring and connections that are designed to plug-and-play with electrified hinges and door raceways.

While plug-and-play technologies simplify the physical installation of these devices, open-standard technologies, which are becoming increasingly popular, ease the integration of doorway components into the security system software. Essentially, the door is becoming just another appliance on the network.

New locks are drastically lowering the cost of near-online or online access control by leveraging the existing IP network infrastructure in the building.

This eliminates the need for expensive redundant security system wiring.

It also spreads intelligence and decision-making abilities to the lock on the edge of the network, allowing more system redundancy than in the past. The door has become the ultimate “edge” device.

Highly Intelligent Components
Just as cell phones became smart phones, a movement is now afoot to make door hardware components intelligent.

The latest access control devices allow components to be wired together with only four wires instead of the usual web of proprietary conductors.

Just like USB made our computing lives easier, intelligent components are now plug and play. This is enabled by “CAN-bus” open technology -- the same technology that helps car manufacturers plug electronic components into each other and give the driver warning lights on the dashboard if the seatbelts are unfastened or the tire pressure or fuel level is low.

In the future, building owners will get the equivalent of the engine warning light from a door in need of adjustment or imminent service.

Viewing Doorways in a New Light
As a result of these transformations, doors now fall into integrators’ traditional line of business. Technological advancements have created a wide variety of options to secure each doorway.

Whether combining multiple credentials, leveraging existing network infrastructure, integrating discrete components or adding decision-making capabilities, today’s doorways are allowing a much broader set of products beyond $300 mechanical locks and $4,000 online access-controlled openings.

This allows for the selection of the right product to provide the right level of security within a given budget and a given level of risk.

Doorway components have evolved enough for integrators to take ownership of this previously overlooked market, creating a potential new avenue of business. For system integrators, doorways are now both technically and strategically appealing.

About the Author

Martin Huddart is the vice president of electronic access control development for ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions.


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