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While building occupants and visitors might not take much notice of the evolution in door hardware and access control technology, the issue is front and center for managers and technicians for overseeing the selection and installation of new-generation technology. One such evolution is playing out in UCFS’s shift from mechanical to digital.
“In an ideal world, we would love to have all card readers, but the physical key aspect is never going to go away forever,” Moler says. “Even with physical key card access, you still have the mechanical override key. When your electronics go bad, whether it's an electronic cylinder or physical key cylinder, you always have that override, and it's always going to be there.”
The department is carrying out another critical change to building access that has a direct impact on security and safety.
“We are in the process of updating our credential, which is technology that runs our badge,” Moler says. “We were tied down to a credential that was not an open platform. It was easier to hack or to duplicate. We had to get a new badge access credential.
“We're in the midst right now of swapping out all 60,000-plus card holders for the university for UCSF as a whole. We also will be updating all of our card readers. Right now, we have about 5,000 card readers, but only about 4,500 of those will need to be swapped. That is a huge undertaking and a big process that we're going through, finding the correct reader that will sustain us for the next 20-plus years.”
To ensure the smoothest possible transitions between outdated hardware and new-generation technology, Moler says he is involved in both research into new product options and in the planning of new facilities where the technology will be installed.
“My role is being involved with construction and design,” he says. “When we have new buildings, it's working with our team to create typical performance criteria forms that our real estate team hands to the contractors so they know what guidelines to follow.
“I also am at the end user conventions. I go to our card access system (manufacturer) and work with them directly on what kinds of integrations we use. I also do the testing for a lot of our new products. I will put those through not only the mechanical and assembly of the lock. I will also test fully how that integrates with our different software.”
Making certain suppliers and contractors adhere to the department’s specifications is critical in standardizing and streamlining the department’s inspection, testing and maintenance activities.
"It all comes down to consistency,” Moler says. “It's all about being consistent on what we install from the beginning and making the builders stick with our standards. We pick those for a reason.
“Keeping things up and running has a lot to do with consistency — knowing what we have out there. It's a challenge sometimes, especially when we talk about outlying areas, new projects that get swung in maybe without us knowing. We have to stay consistent with how we install those to our specs."
Early involvement in new construction planning offers the opportunity to ensure the standardization of installed products.
“The biggest challenge is new construction,” he says. “The products we use aren't the cheapest products. When you do big projects, project security is always the first thing that they try to cut to make their budgets. You can look at certain locks and say, ‘We're spending X amount of dollars on this. We could save X amount of dollars per opening.’
“As soon as you do that and get away from our industry standard, it doesn't hold up to the abuse, and then we don't have the parts to fix it, which affects the bottom line all around as far as getting parts and maintaining and replacing them. That consistency rolls into our guys understanding how these locks go together, knowing where to drill the holes, knowing how this assembles.”
The department also provides the extensive training technicians need to efficiently install and maintain the entire range of door hardware and access control technology throughout UCSF facilities.
"Our technicians are not just card access technicians,” Moler says. “They also work on alarm systems, intrusion systems, video cameras and intercom systems. as well as our card access systems. When we bring a new technician online, we definitely put them through all sorts of trainings.
“We have once-a-month meetings with all of our technicians and our locksmiths — separately because it's two different things. We bring up new technologies, and if we need new trainings or updates, we do those in that environment.”
Dan Hounsell is senior editor of the facilities market. He has more than 30 years of experience writing about facilities maintenance, engineering and management.
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