Safety and Security: A New Generation

By Thomas A. Westerkamp  

As managers search for door hardware products that provide enhanced security for their facilities, manufacturers continue their efforts to meet these demands and, at the same time, deliver products that can withstand long-term use and abuse. By understanding advances in key door hardware products, managers can more effectively specify products that will offer durability and long-term performance.

Expanding Offerings

Variety is the watchword in recent door hardware innovations. Door locks are an example: Manufacturers are offering many more designs and accessories than ever. A random look at offerings uncovers:

  • hardware models that fit more than 100 door preps
  • fewer parts for easier installation
  • latch-bolt retraction with only 45 degrees of rotation
  • torx and spanner screw fasteners to resist tampering
  • high-security designs for vandalism-prone installations
  • more than a dozen designs for specific applications, such as storerooms, closets, entrances, classrooms, hotels, dormitories, and corridors
  • special classroom security functionality with inside and outside key locks
  • multiple lever designs for easier accessibility
  • easier cylinder removal
  • several designs for the rose — the plate between the door and knob — to cover different door preps
  • models with EPA-approved antimicrobial silver-based finish coating to suppress bacteria, algae, fungus, mold and mildew.

Then there is the maintenance manager’s and carpenter’s productivity bonus: special packaging that includes logical component layout, instructions and tools that allow the installer to fit the hardware intuitively, often in one-third less time than required with conventional packaging.


Another example of variety is commercial 115-volt AC electro-mechanical door operators. They can be jamb-mounted or door-mounted. The jamb mount has no physical attachment to the door, so the door can operate manually.

The door mount is attached to the door with an arm pushing against the door frame. These operators work against a standard closer, have adjustable hold-open times of up to 30 seconds, or can be supplied with signal-to-close wired push button or wireless remote control.


In addition to a larger number of standard mortise-hinge sizes and duty designs, many more pivot and continuous-hinge designs are available for every application, inside and out.

One special application example is the newly announced heavy-duty mortise hinge that has been approved for use in South Florida hurricane-prone areas where building codes are very demanding. It features heavy-gauge steel construction, five knuckles, and oil-impregnated bearings on which the knuckles rotate.


Door hardware and accessory vendors now are offering a much broader range of products: access-control products and identification capability, such as facial recognition, 10-fingerprint ID systems; visitor and asset management; closed-circuit video systems; digital recording; intrusion detection for both the perimeter and interior; and PC-controlled systems with the capability of storing hundreds of identities and thousands of events.

Additionally, many new magnetic-switch-operated locks, motion sensors, and panic devices are on the market that alert a central location or off-site police station. These electronic devices are powered by either stand-alone battery supplies or low-voltage power supplies with battery backup to enable continued operation, even in case of power failure.

Managers also have more high-security locks from which to choose during specification. Keys for high-security locks are made from blanks that are not available at local locksmiths or hardware stores, making unauthorized duplication more difficult.

New 12- and 24-volt DC access hardware power supplies eliminate the need for separate power supplies for locks and access controls. These locks also feature battery backup and fire-emergency release input.

The standalone category of locks offers additional examples of innovation. A new door check features a self-contained proximity reader and PIN pad. Proximity cards, PIN codes and key holder codes are entered or erased with a master card or master PIN. The manager can use it three modes: proximity card only, PIN only, or both card- and PIN-actuated.

This check has capacity for 400 users, a reading range of 6 inches, tamper alarm, and two relay outputs. Other models offer features similar to hard-wired models. They are: keypad programmable or computer controlled; have a 1,600-event history, a 150,000-cycle battery life, and a low-battery alarm; and offer nine master group levels, 90 user groups, and 1,800 preprogrammed events.

Its programming and event-history capability tracks 200 locksets and transfers information over a secure infrared data transmission device. This unit is also ADA compliant.

Durability and Performance

Durability and long life are built in to many of the architectural door hardware products on the market today. The American National Standards Institute and Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (ANSI/BHMA) continue to update standards so specifiers can find products to meet the most demanding applications and all weather conditions.

For example, the standard for electrified strikes and actuators includes operational and finish tests for compliance. Operational tests include cycle, static strength, dynamic strength, and inductive kickback, among others. Each standard also contains requirements for test equipment and procedures. The standard’s cycle test is 500,000 cycles for Grade 1 — the most robust for high usage locations — 300,000 cycles for Grade 2, and 100,000 cycles for Grade 3.

Standard A156.29, the ANSI standard for exit locks and exit alarms, specifies for Grade 1 devices: a normal exit test of 15 pounds of force maximum: a cycle test of 100,000 cycles; a cycle test for exit alarms of 1,000 cycles; and a slam test of 1,000 cycles.

Beyond Specifications

One example of the extent to which manufacturers are going to ensure durability and long life involves bored-in locks used in high-traffic doors. Stainless steel designs offer interlocking between the lock body and latch for high strength and durability.

One manufacturer’s tests are very rigid. The units exceed 8 million cycles in independent testing, which is 10 times the ANSI/BHMA A156.2 Grade 1 standard. They also withstand more than 3,000 inch-pounds of torque force on a locked lever, which is more than three-and-a-half times the ANSI/BHMA A156.2 Grade 1 torque force standard. As for long life, these bored-in locks come with a 10-year limited warranty and require no minimum service to maintain the warranty.

With careful and comprehensive specification of door hardware for each specific application, and by making full use of all the available features, managers can ensure that their facilities are accessible, safe and secure for the long term, while requiring very little maintenance.

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  posted on 9/1/2007   Article Use Policy

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