What is electronic access control?
The simple answer is that it is an electronic system designed to control access into a specific area...Oh but it's so much more that that! Imagine this; you're on vacation sitting on the
beach in Tahiti and you get a call from your office. They desperately need to gain access to the computer room. You log on to the internet, sign in to your access control system and unlock the door. Or maybe your company experiences a theft and you want to know who was the last person in that area, or someone was terminated and you need to immediately remove their privileges from the system. Electronic access control systems put you in charge of your environment. You decide who is allowed in and who goes where and at what time and what day...you set the rules and it's all monitored with an audit trail. There is an access control system for just about every budget. From the standalone single door system to the more elaborate PC or Web based systems; it's all available today! An electronic access control system is an area where it's best to get a professional involved as soon as possible to discuss your needs because they will help you better define the system that is right for you. It is easy to overbuy because there are many options available. Remember when VCRs came out and you bought the top of the line because it had all the bells and whistles you thought you wanted. In reality all you really just needed was to play movies and rarely used all of the features you paid for. A professional can help you navigate through all the options and capabilities of an access control system to design a system that accomplishes your goals, both needs and budget.
Some Capabilities of an Access Control System
1. Controls access into all or specific areas of a facility whether it's a
single building or campus.
2. Access can be set up for groups of people or individuals.
3. Access can be limited to times of the day and days of the week.
4. System can be pre-programmed to remain locked during
holidays or days when your business is closed.
5. You can assign one time user codes; once the code is used
it cannot be used again to gain entry.
6. System can be designed to work with your elevator controls.
7. System can be set up where it takes two credentials to open a
door. This way no one person is ever alone in an area.
8. System can notify you when someone enters a specific area
you want to monitor.
9. System can be controlled remotely.
10. System can be integrated with an alarm system, camera system,
Benefits of an Access Control System
1. Add or remove employees quickly.
2. Reduce the need for physical keys to your business.
3. Reduce the need to re-key your facility.
4. You can assign cleaning crews access to your facility on specific
days and times. You can also restrict the areas they work in.
5. Get reports of employee movement in the building by time and day.
6. The system can be used for time
& attendance with the proper
software. It can also be used
for building automation.
7. Lock down the building in seconds in
an emergency situation.
8. Remotely make changes or view activity reports.
9. Easily expand your system as needed.
10. Quickly Respond to potential or immediate security threats.
Web based access control systems are quickly becoming popular among large companies for several reasons. Software resides on the host's system instead of locally. This allows timely and consistent software updates and support from the manufacturer that is always available. Real-time incident information is delivered via email, phone, or pager, and a digital record of each facility's system activity is updated in real-time.
Standalone access control systems or single door systems typically rely on a battery operated lock that is installed on the door in place of the existing lock.
The cost of these locks are typically 3 to 4 times less than their more expensive counterparts and they come packed with the popular features of the larger access control system. The big difference between the two systems is how they are controlled. The larger more elaborate systems can be controlled from your desktop PC or laptop from just about anywhere in the world where you can get a internet connection. The standalone system is controlled at the door the where the lock was installed. So to make any changes you need to go to the door and make the changes on the lock itself through the use of its keypad. If you have multiple standalone locks in your building you would need to go to every lock in the system to make the changes. Depending on the lock manufacturer, to make programming a little more efficient you can purchase a data module as an option and program it at your desk then take it to the lock locations to up load the information to the lock.
Several types of readers are available. Readers are the devices that read the information presented via a credential and sends it to the control panel to determine if the door will be unlocked. Some readers are proprietary to a manufacturer and are required for use with their system while others can be used with most systems. The types of access credentials a person carries varies as well; card, key fob, number to enter onto a keypad, and biometric credentials via their body parts like finger, eye, and palm. Access control cards can
also be used as company photo IDs. A badging system can be a beneficial add-on to an access control system. You have control as to the design of the badges. Photos, company logo, colors, dates, temporary cards, visitor cards, vendor cards; whatever you need you can design.
Another nice add-on to your access control system is the door prop function; it will alert you when a door is not in the closed position after a programmed time period.
One very important component of an access control system that is often overlooked or forgotten about is the door closer or the lack of one. A door with access control without a door closer or one in poor working order becomes useless. Once someone passes through the door the door needs to return to its closed position before it can be relocked. Relying on a person to manually close a door defeats the purpose of the system. A door closer insures that the door will return to the closed and latched position so it can be locked. This holds true for any type of access control system.
When comparing bids make sure those bids include the locking hardware. Too many times an unsuspecting customer signs a contract just to find out the locking hardware is not included costing them additional expense not planned for. If you find discrepancies among bids, avoid taking the lowest bid without questioning the differences.
"READ" Extremely Important! "READ"
Locking hardware is oftentimes a component of an access control system where the cost is NOT INCLUDED IN THE BID and it gets overlooked by the customer believing everything is included in the quote. The reason being the access control company making the bid lacks the skills necessary to properly install the locking hardware. This will account for a lower bottom line price but its something you'll need to purchase from another company to complete your access control system. Not a good surprise for the customer especially when locking hardware could easily be $600.00 and up per door. Make sure that your bid includes the installation of locking hardware. Generally speaking, having two companies deal with an installation is not a problem until something goes wrong; then each company involved points to the other as the culprit thus generating poor customer service. Work with a company that can do both with their own technicians.
Also consider the company proposing the system when looking at the bottom line. If you're dealing with a smaller company like a two or three person company their overhead is less so they can afford to be a few thousand dollars lower than a company of a much larger size. But it may not be in your best interest to select a smaller company with a lower price. Here's why; a smaller company can mean more vulnerability due to minimal or no support, technical expertise, timely repairs, and may lack the ability to adjust to your needs. Attractive pricing today can come at a higher unrealized cost tomorrow. Yes, you may have saved a few thousand dollars but you could be waiting a few days to get service on your access control system due to inherent problems smaller companies have with service work. That's not going to sit well with you when you have an issue with doors not locking down, especially after investing the money necessary to get the system installed. Imagine that you've just purchased a new car from a dealer and you got a great price but then imagine that the dealer only has one mechanic. How long do you think you're going to wait to get service on your new car. One thing for sure is that its not going to be the same day you drive to the dealership for service. The same thing could hold true when you call the smaller company for service on your access control system. Most service companies have their schedules already set a few days in advance to service other accounts. With the schedule already full, smaller companies usually lack the flexibility to accommodate same day service requests due to the availability of manpower. If anything can be done it is usually after hours and on overtime so you're going to pay a premium labor cost. Larger companies, in most cases, has the manpower and flexibility necessary to accommodate same day service requests. Do your homework and choose the company that's right for you.
Often smaller companies are limited to the access control systems available to them. This is because the higher end access control manufacturers have a set criteria they go by in allowing companies to become a dealer for their products. One being "how large is the company". They want companies that are large enough to support the end user and to service their products in a timely fashion. This forces the smaller company to sell access control products that are common over the counter products, and for the most part are still good quality products. Larger companies can obtained those products as well. The over the counter products are a good value if the customers needs are simple and straight forward. This is where you need to be careful when comparing bids. The smaller company makes a bid using the limited products available to them and hopes it will fit the customers needs now and in the future. The larger company makes a bid using a much wider
range of products including over the counter systems. They select the system that will best fit the customer's needs based on what the customer tells them is important. When you're looking at the bottom line dollars ask yourself this, "Are they biding this product because that's what we need or because it's what they have?" Nothing worst than learning the system you just had installed doesn't do certain things you assumed it would do. Question everything when comparing bids.
When looking for a company to work with, consider these things:
1. Find a company that offers more than one type of access control
system but not so many that they are not proficient in any one of
2. Will the company provide service work should your system require it.
3. Will the company provide training to all users on the new system.
4. Will the company provide phone support.
5. Is the company established in the community.
6. Does the company have the correct licenses and are they adequately
7. Avoid using a one or two man mobile only company. Access control
systems require a team of qualified people to provide a successful
end result for the customer.
Do your homework and research using the internet on the type of system being proposed. If you can't find anything out about it...walk away.
the right Access Control System
for your business!
If you would like to speak to one of our access control experts, please call us at 714 633-1499.
We're here to help you!