Technology Advances Improve Access-Control Systems

By James Piper, P.E.  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: This PagePt. 2: Door Inspections Recommended at Least Twice AnnuallyPt. 3: Regular Maintenance Critical to Access-Control System PerformancePt. 4: Access-Control System Technicians Require Proper Training

The increased need for overall security for institutional and commercial facilities has led to a greater reliance on access-control systems that incorporate new technology. Maintenance and engineering managers are finding the benefits of facilitywide access control systems go far beyond simply improving the level of security within buildings. In many cases, a well-designed and implemented system has resulted in reduced operating and maintenance costs, in part due to hardware standardization and the elimination of traditional key-based systems.

But access-control systems are not maintenance-free. As with all building systems — particularly those that combine advanced hardware and software — access-control systems require comprehensive maintenance, testing, and inspection if they are to perform as intended. If technicians do not perform those maintenance and testing activities regularly, the integrity of the access system will deteriorate, jeopardizing security for the facility and increasing maintenance costs.

Managers can greatly reduce the likelihood of deteriorated system performance by focusing attention on some of the most common trouble spots found in access-control systems.

Doors to opportunity

Access-control systems are not independent, standalone systems. While they might operate independently from other building automation systems, they piggyback on top of existing building components. The most important of these components are the facility’s doors and door hardware. No matter how well designed the access-control system is, it is only as secure as the components it operates.

Consider the facility’s exterior doors. Access-control systems might be designed to limit access through particular doors, but if a door and its hardware do not operate properly and allow the door to fully close, an unwanted visitor can easily defeat the access-control system. To ensure the facility’s doors do not hamper security, managers can implement a comprehensive program for inspecting, testing, and maintaining exterior doors, as well as secure interior doors.

One common problem area, particularly for heavier exterior doors, is the door hinge. Stresses on the hinges from frequent use and wear can cause the door to sag. If the sagging becomes pronounced enough, the door will bind or fail to fully close, compromising security. Managers can reduce the extent of door sagging by scheduling frequent inspections of the operation, adjustment and lubrication of door hinges.

To enable doors requiring an unusually high level maintenance to close properly, managers also can consider the use of continuous, geared hinges. This type of hinge essentially eliminates sagging issues by spreading stresses experienced by standard door hinges over the full height of the door.

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  posted on 11/16/2013   Article Use Policy

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