Simply put a master key system is a group of locks of a building or set of buildings keyed in such a fashion so that one key can operate all locks in the group while individual operating keys can operate one or more locks in specified areas of the building or buildings. The larger the number of locks in building the more complex the master key system can be. Specific areas can be departments like accounting, warehouse, and marketing.
The purpose of the master key system is to control access of personnel to specific areas that relate to their job or function. Controlling access limits liability, internal theft, potential hazards, and business disruption.
In order to design an effective master key system, a discussion with the owner or responsible person must take place. Understanding how an organization operates with its many departments and work groups allow the designer to consider just how the system should be developed. Along with that, considering future growth and potential internal changes must also be taken into account. Although a company may not know how the future may play out, acquiring a sense of the company will allow for a well thought out system.
The average life span of a master key system is about seven years. This duration depends highly on how the system is managed. Here are a few items that will prolong the life a good master key system:
Policies and Procedures:
a. How keys are issued
b. How to handle a lost key
c. How to maintain spare and returned keys
d. Designate a responsible person to manage system
e. How to handle unauthorized key duplication or
f. How to obtain additional keys
g. Who will interface with the locksmith
a. Record of the person who issued a key
b. Record key designation
c. Record date key was returned
d. Signature of person to whom the key was issued
Other Possible Records:
a. Floor plan with door designation
b. Key designation log
c. How each door is keyed
d. Key no longer in the system
e. Door lock keying changes
f. Department changes
g. Key cabinet housing a copy of each key in the system
There should be at least one person designated who is authorized to issue keys and maintain key records. Oftentimes, we see companies give less importance to key management and question why three years later no one knows where keys are and who has them. We have also seen the master key (the most important key of the system) passed out because it will get the new employee in the door he or she needs, let alone every other lock in the system.
With the advent of high security key systems such as Medeco and Mul-T-Lock, key control improves because of the authorization process involved in obtaining additional keys. However, maintaining good records will safe-guard the investment made in developing and implementing any master key system whether it's a standard keying system or high security system.
So, if it has been awhile or there has been some turnover of personnel that had been issued keys, a review of your organization's keying system is a good start to understanding whether or not you need to take some action to regain control of the system or start over. Record who has what keys and where those keys operate. Assess the vulnerability that may be present and determine what to do next. One thing that can be done is contact your professional security provider (Comlock) for a no cost audit and review of your findings. We can provide insight into coping with what your have or help with developing a new plan to regain control over the access to your facility. Remember, the liability of a poorly maintained master key system can cost the company in several ways. Controlling your employees' access with a well-thought out and designed master key system along with effective implementation and management can reduce the cost of doing business.
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