The Doorway to Success
A transformation in the industry is making integrators take notice of doors
- By Martin Huddart
- Jun 01, 2010
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
But, a transformation in the industry
is making integrators take notice
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
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
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
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