Electronic locking systems integrate access solutions.

June '99 Access Control & Identity Management

As The logical evolution from purely mechanical locks to electromechanical and electromagnetic locks continues, the dominant trait is the trend toward electronic locking hardware being provided as integrated integral product groups. devices in this category are electric locking devices which may be used in various combinations to ultimately design a system perfectly matched to the application.

Electronic locking systems integrate access solutions

Published by kind permission Security Technology & Design

As the logical evolution from purely mechanical locks to electromechanical and electromagnetic locks continues, the dominant trait is the trend toward electronic locking hardware being provided as integrated integral product groups. Devices in this category are electric locking devices which may be used in various combinations to ultimately design a system perfectly matched to the application.

They also are now more frequently offered with proprietary control software enabling these products to share the extensive monitoring, management and control functions once available exclusively only on networked hardwired systems within a site or within networks of any proportion.

The term "integrated locking system" is applied to products which secure openings (such as the electromagnetic lock or electric door strike) as well as auxiliary devices and equipment (power supplies, switches) and complementary accessories (levers, exit bars, etc.) which enable use of the equipment for a variety of applications.

Although the electric locking device and the input/control for the locking device can be separate and must be integrated to each other to form a system, self-contained units and product groups from particular manufacturers which are designed to properly combine to form systems proliferate. Early examples of this type formed the basis for scores of new products. For example:

1. Alarmed Exit Device: The combination of a panic bar (control) with an audible alarm (annunciation) and a mechanical latch (the lock).

2. Self-Contained Access Control System (card reader or keypad): An electrically controlled mechanical latch (lock) is combined with a digital keypad or card reader (input and control).

3. Master Building Door Control: Combines the family of locking devices deployed at a site (all the exit doors in a school, as an example) with a control console or building fire/emergency system. Such systems permit the global unlocking (or locking) of doors in an emergency. Some doors may be programmed to unlock upon alarm to ensure safe egress of building occupants and permit easy access to the building for emergency personnel, while other doors will be secured in order to inhibit smoke migration and spread of fire.

4. Networked Door Control: Combining single door controllers onto a network allows monitoring, audit and control of many doors, and enables efficient management of code/card/employee database and activity reports. Virtually all real-time networked systems utilise a hardwired connection between each door and a network or require home runs to a centralised controller.

Distributed processing

One universally used system architecture is commonly referred to as distributed processing. The precise infrastructure of the process distribution depends on the system and is proprietary to each vendor. These parameters will have a direct effect on such things as the reliability and speed of the system and how well it is able to maintain the optimum security profile despite possible system failures or adverse conditions.

Typically, card and system data is stored in secondary nodes, as well as in the central control unit. The plan is that this redundancy will ensure the integrity of the database, permit quick recovery or enable uninterrupted system operation regardless of the location or degree of crisis imposed on the system. For example, non-exception door activity can be cached and uploaded on a routine schedule, while exceptions (attempts to use a disallowed card or a forced door, as examples) are uploaded as they occur.

"There are as many methods to retrieve data as there are types of databases and access control operating systems."

Some systems have been developed around a core product or special application. One example is the hotel/motel (hospitality) lock market. Specific requirements with respect to operating features and economic realities of the hospitality market resulted in what was up to recently a "Galapagos effect," where products and features used on one niche market were insulated from features in other markets. These inequities existed in how the products were sold as well as how the equipment was designed to operate.

Hotel systems traditionally were sold through factory-direct relationships. On the other hand, most other door controls compete in several markets, and manufacturers rarely sell directly to end-users. There were many features originally developed for the hospitality market, and many of them have migrated into the broader general purpose access control market:

Cards: The hospitality market demand for inexpensive cards was contrary to the trend to build as much high-tech circuitry into an access card. The transportation industry also fueled the demand for economical card technologies. Addressing the retrofit hotel market prompted engineers to design access systems which could operate for long periods on a single set of batteries, as well as provide network-like intelligence, without the need for hardwired connection from each door to the lobby computer. This fostered several clever data distribution/collection techniques:

1. IR ports utilising a hand-held printer with infrared port to upload and print activity reports

2. Palm-tops utilising portable computers and data port connectors to support up and downloading of system database

3. On-card programming where the card itself conveys door location, time zone, privileges or even a record of card uses. A typical operation is such that when the card is surrendered by the guest at checkout, the lobby computer reads the card's data into the database.

4. Servo-operated cylindrical and mortise lockboxes: Not exactly rare, but not exactly a common device either, the early versions drew so much current, battery operation was not feasible. The latest technology is servo operation, which is quiet, quick and low-current.

Cylindrical locks are the usual, but more and more electrically operated mortise boxes are available to meet the demand of the retrofit, high-security and high-traffic markets. Electrically actuated locks show up in new construction where they are hardwired to control units and control stations. The major drawback to electrically actuated locksets was the difficulty of installation on retrofits.

This sounds wrong, doesn't it?

Getting power to where its needed

What's so difficult about taking off an existing lockset and bolting on an electrically activated model? Getting the power to the lock. For a hollow metal door, you will hit reinforcing cleats while trying to drill from one door edge to the other. Fire-rated doors are packed with sheet rock which is a mess to drill. Ditto for custom millwork wood doors and French doors.

Transferring the power is accomplished by use of a door loop, an electric hinge or a concealed power transfer. A door loop is essentially a piece of wire between the moving door and the stationary door jamb. The wire should be flexible and resilient, should be installed in a protective shield and the ends should be stress relieved and protected.

The electric hinge also looks just like it's mundane twin except it passes conductors through it and inherently provides physical protection for the wires. A power transfer typically is routed into the edge of the door and the mating surface in the buck, and provides a large wireway, and superb performance, though routing in the field is difficult.

"With the use of open software architecture and compatible formats, the market is more feature oriented and brand loyalty is not a major motivation."

Benefits of electrically actuated locksets

Here are nine benefits of electrically actuated locksets:

1. Aesthetically pleasing: There are a wide variety of styles and oddball existing locks can be retrofitted.

2. Discreet: You cannot tell by its appearance that a lock is electrically actuated.

3. Durable: Manual locksets are reliable, especially the high-grade types you should be using.

4. No end-user confusion: When an electric release or maglock is used, there are inevitable problems getting the end-user to adapt to having to unlock and lock something new.

5. No concerns about life safety: Operating the lock is manual, and the lock mechanism is a proven reliable design. Electric releases may jam due to wear or excessive pressure on the door; maglocks rely on electrical circuits switching off power in order to unlock the device which is a big life safety concern. If the door was free egress before the upgrade, it will be still free egress after the upgrade.

6. Easy to install, especially if you are using the type which runs on battery. But if it requires wiring, at least you will have highly reliable and aesthetic results.

7. Painless power: Depending on the model and the door activity, you are not being unreasonable to get at least six months between pit stops, and battery changing is designed to be as simple as possible.

8. Sweat equity: The person transgressing the door must contribute a small amount of physical effort to open the door so the electric actuator within the lock when activated simply allows the lever (knob) to be turned to retract the latch.

9. Vandal resistance: The latest electrically actuated levers utilise a feature developed in public housing in the Bronx. This feature allows the lever to offer no resistance to turning when not actuated. Since the greatest wear in a lever mechanism has been established to be the stress caused by greater and greater amounts of pressure being applied to a lever thinking that it necessary to exert the additional force to overcome a sluggish lock, or alternately thinking (and I use the word very loosely), that it's fun to deliberately destroy equipment. The fact that a damaged lock will prevent people from using the door and could perhaps cause injury or loss of life is just a bonus to this sort.

Virtual Networked Systems

Virtual networked systems are truly distributed processors, with full database and activity logs. Data must be retrieved and uploaded into the central computer. With the use of open software architecture and compatible formats, the market is more feature oriented and brand loyalty is not a major motivation.

Electric locking devices are used for controlling doors in commercial, high-security, incarceration, institutional, government, financial services and single & multiple dwelling residential applications. Wherever there is a door, there is a reason for wanting to control it, and probably an electric locking device designed for the application.

"Electric Locking Devices can be divided into three broad categories: electromechanical, electromagnetic and hybrids."

Electric Locking Devices can be divided into three broad categories: electromechanical, electromagnetic and hybrids. Electromechanical locking devices include electric door strikes, electric bolts, motorised locks and electrically actuated locksets. Electric strikes usually are installed in the door jamb, adjacent to the lockset in the door. Electric bolts send a bolt, usually cylindrical, but sometimes latch or bolt shaped, into a keeper, or strike plate.

Motorised locking devices are specialised devices usually designed for a particular application. Activating a motorised lock will usually cause the latchbolt to retract, and the door is thereby free swinging. When electrically actuated locksets are triggered, that allows the lever or knob to be turned and the latchbolt to retract. Another version of electrically actuated lockset engages the lever or lockset with the lock mechanism when triggered, so that turning the knob/lever will retract the latchbolt. This is a newer design intended to minimise damage to the lock by vandals.

Electromagnetic locking devices include maglocks and shear locks. Electromagnetic locks create a magnetic bond between the armature and lock solenoid, while shear locks use the magnetic force to attract the armature to the solenoid, which are designed so that once armature and solenoid bond they interlock mechanically as well, providing a high-integrity mechanical locking action.

Hybrids include all devices which combine functions or technologies. Things like delayed egress systems, audible exit alarm devices, self-contained access controls and smart electric door strikes are included in this category.

"Every access control or door control system must have at least one electric lock in order to fulfill its mission and have something to control."

Every access control or door control system must have at least one electric lock in order to fulfill its mission and have something to control. But not much attention is paid to the electric lock, and it is just as important to specify the right locking hardware as it is to determine the type of card reader used on the system.

Things to consider

Things to consider when specifying an electric locking device: application (new construction, retrofit, indoor or outdoor), type of door and jamb (metal, wood, herculite), traffic through the opening (duty cycle), available power and, most important, the building codes to which your installation must conform. The first priority when specifying electric locks is life safety. In all instances, the electric locking system must provide an approved means of free egress.

"The first priority when specifying electric locks is life safety. In all instances, the electric locking system must provide an approved means of free egress."

Different building occupancies require different approved techniques. The only positive source of information regarding what's acceptable or not for a particular application is the local authority having jurisdiction. More often than not this is the fire chief. If you are not sure who to contact, the nearest fire department is an excellent place to start.

Planning is the other critical issue when specifying an electric lock. Plan to have the right hardware on site and available when the installation is to be performed. Some electric locks must be ordered in advance, and many are built upon receipt of order by the factory and several week lead times are not unusual.

David Hall, vice president of sales & marketing for Rutherford Controls, a major supplier of electric lock hardware, stresses the importance of picking the right device for the job: "The electric locking portion of security is often downplayed. Our research shows electric locks on an access control system often amount to only two or three percent of the overall project cost; however, the electric locking devices account for 70 to 80 percent of the system problems. This is because the specification of the correct hardware is largely ignored. Properly specified and installed electric locking hardware will provide the desired results. It won't do any good for a state-of-the-art system to be installed, if the doors are controlled by junk."

"...electric locks on an access control system often amount to only two or three percent of the overall project cost; however, the electric locking devices account for 70 to 80 percent of the system problems."

Industry insiders forecast that major advances in electric locking devices will be in increased safety, security, installation flexibility and integration of locking devices with smart technologies.

Safety: In the interests of saving lives, and reducing liability, manufacturers endeavor to provide durable equipment which will perform under adverse conditions and have all conceivable safety features. The worst-case scenario is where the consequences of a defective lock or under-designed system is personal injury or the loss of life.

It is the shared responsibility of the end-user to diligently test and maintain all locking equipment in the system, of the installer to be sure the electric lock is appropriate for the application and is properly installed and for the local authority having jurisdiction to inspect systems and take whatever actions are necessary to protect the public and enforce the law.

Securitech addresses the issues of safety and security with door hardware combining electronic and mechanical locking. They also incorporate vandal resistance into their systems, which are designed to withstand the rigors of the urban environment.

As Securitech's William J. Nelson explained, "Our locking products provide tremendous flexibility allowing for fail-safe or fail-secure systems. Card access, biometrics and any other type of access control can be used in conjunction with Securitech hardware. Our vandal-resistant levers are designed to break away rather than break apart. Lever trim on locks are especially prone to damage when forced or abused.

The most common problem is a snapped spindle, which is expensive to repair and will cause safety and security issues at the site until it is repaired. Securitech's LevereX levers do not allow the spindle to snap. Instead, the clutch releases the lever, saving the spindle. Simply rotating the lever back to its original position resets it. Our locking systems are unique in that all functions are controlled by the trim. Release for electromagnetic locks and the shunting of alarms can be accomplished through the lever trim.

With Securitech locking systems, there is never a need for separate Request to Exit switches or motion sensors, since all release is accomplished through the trim. The "Maglatch" system is a combination high-security mechanical and electromagnetic lock. Both the electromechanical as well as the electromagnetic lock are simultaneously released by the one motion of actuating the trim, thereby conforming to life safety codes."

Intellikey is a leader in the design, production and marketing of standalone, battery-powered, programmable high-security replacement cylinders and keys that communicate via encrypted infrared variable length signals and are easily programmed to add and delete users, permit timed access and provide an extensive audit trail in both the cylinder and the key. Cylinders are retrofittable to most existing commercially rated hardware. Wayne Wilkerson, president of Intellikey, explained the unique features of his product: "Without the need for hard wire or pulling cable through walls, the Intellikey system provides absolute security even in the most demanding applications. The Intellikey system is the only system with a programmable key. Our key is actually a 16K microprocessor." The Intellikey system is furnished with Quantum Easy 1-2-3 software, Wilkerson pointed out. "The software is so easy to use that masterkeying is accomplished with a few clicks of the mouse."

Locknetics invented and introduced the electromagnetic lock to the industry in 1969. George Nortonen of Locknetics advised, "During the past decade Locknetics has been innovating new solutions for every type of access point required for electronic locking systems. Locknetics has expanded to microprocessor controllers on board electromagnetic locks for self-contained delayed egress systems, on-board access control logic and integrated PIR devices. Recently Locknetics introduced new solutions in heavy-duty electric strikes, programmable battery-powered electric strikes, programmable battery-powered door locks, electrified and electronic exit devices and software to manage the microprocessor-based products. Each new product has been designed to meet specific customer needs.

SA based Total Access a leader in locking systems

On the local front, Cape-based Total Access has long been a leader in the sophisticated electronic locking arena with its respected Kaba range of solutions. Said Total Access's Peter Cordiner, "Storing valuables reaches beyond secure doors and thick metal plates. Reliable and trustworthy locking mechanisms are by far the most decisive factors in deciding upon a safe locking system. A sticky key or a sabotaged locking mechanism can mean the end to an expensive and otherwise functional safe room door."

According to Cordiner, Kaba's Paxos is just such a high security safe locking system, offering a combination of security, ease of use and reliability. Said Cordiner, "Using the technique of redundancy, Paxos has quickly gained the trust of safe manufacturers and security consultants, making it the most advanced safe lock available in the world today."

"Every mechanical and electronic component within the unit is found in duplicate and continuously monitored. The improbability that two independent components fail simultaneously, leads to a quantum leap in reliability. With its monitoring procedures the locking unit can identify the cause of the problem and even warn of impending errors that may occur. With its double redundancy and enforced repair, Paxos compact achieves a statistical utilisation time of 15 million hours before system failure. This value is 500 times higher than that of a non-redundant system," he said.

At no point, even at component breakdown, is the safe left unsecured or in limbo. The Paxos will continue monitoring itself and the position of the safe doors giving audible warnings alerting the operator that the safe door is unsecured when in fact it shouldn't be.

Understanding the harsh crime atmosphere is a prerequisite when designing a safe locking system. Apart from locking safe doors and checking authorisations, Paxos offers a host of security features making it ideal for the highest security installation. The unit's intelligent processing is kept behind the secured safe door, which offers tamper proofing and manipulation monitoring and alarming. An input unit is positioned on the safe door, or within a few metres of it, and simply acts as an interface between the operator and locking mechanisms.

Locking periods, time delays and silent hold up alarm are just some of the additional features available to the unit. Authorisation disabling, or automatic blocking, allows the locks to be activated or disabled remotely via push buttons, modem link up, satellite link or access control. With this option, for instance, we can activate the keyboard input from a remote security office equipped with CCTV surveillance thereby reducing risk of hold up or unauthorised personnel attempting to manipulate the input unit.

Added Cordiner, "Paxos is designed as a two-lock system, which means one or two locks may be used and operated by one code, input unit. Each lock has full autonomy, which means the four eyes principle can be introduced i.e. two codes for each lock. Each lock has the ability to authorise 10 codes, and each code has a unique name for ease of operator identification. Depending on security level, there are also two code-input terminals available. The keypad input offers ease of use. For greater security levels, where risk of spying is high, the dial knob with limited visibility and random number generation would be the suggested option. All software within the unit is year 2000 compatible."

For details contact Peter, Carlos or Shaun at Total Access (021) 434 8800 or visit access.nis.za.

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