Door Hardware: Benefits of Electronic Access Control
Increasingly, managers are incorporating electronic access-control technology into their facilities. The components of a card-operated lock system are a computer, up to 11 levels of magnetic-striped keycards, computerized card-reading door locks, and a hand-held computer that programs, interrogates, and troubleshoots door units. To open the door, the authorized person slides a card encoded with the same instructions as the door unit through the vertical slot. The computer reads the card information and opens the door if the information is valid for the door at the time.
The primary benefit of this system is flexibility. Technicians can change locks from a central computer by reprogramming the door as often as desired. The computer also records all transactions, providing a printout for administrative control of all changes.
System operators also can encode special emergency cards or master cards to give certain personnel, including security or maintenance workers, access to selected doors in a given area at a given time. Among the other advantages of this system are:
- no rekeying
- no liability risk of not rekeying when needed
- automatic card-expiration time
- the ability to open a door only during certain times
- the ability to open a door only once, then canceling access
- memorizing the code of the last 20 cards used to gain access.
Perhaps the largest impact on maintenance activities from new-generation technology related to door hardware relates to the increased attention to selecting the most appropriate hardware, as well as closer attention to preventive-maintenance tasks that keep components working properly.
One of the more recent additions to these door-hardware components is a proximity card that uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology. This card replaces magnetic, bar code and barrier ferrite cards. It is contact-less, and one of its benefits to facilities is less wear and tear on both the cards and reader equipment.
The proximity cards can provide vehicle tracking and do not require users to stop or swipe the card. System administrators also can update a card when it is within the range of a transmitter. The technology also can provide both perimeter and building security on one card with dual frequencies.
Thomas A. Westerkamp is a maintenance and engineering management consultant and president of the work management division of Westerkamp Group LLC.