- A General Contractor’s Guide -
Introduction to Door Access Control Systems
Access control systems provide authorized individuals safe and secure access in and out of various parts of business.
Four major questions:
What purpose will your access control system serve?
What size and functions will your business need?
What system updating, reporting and tracking is required?
What help and support will your business need?
Access control systems have four major benefits.
- Simplify the management of access to the building. Keys do not have to be made and distributed to employees and contractors. Temporary or permanent credentials are issued.
- Eliminate risk of a misplaced or stolen key falling. There are significant risks and costs if a key falls into the wrong hands. Rekeying can be a large expense along with losses associated with theft.
- Improved tracking and audit trail- No record is kept with keys. Gain knowledge of who came and went through each door and when.
- Eliminate the need for facility staff to manually lock and unlock doors at the beginning and end of each business day. In addition, eliminate the risk of forgetting or improperly locking doors. Door access systems automatically unlock and lock on a schedule.
Purpose of Access Control Systems
An initial purpose of a system is to keep unauthorized people out of an area. This could be the front door, a parking garage, server room, records room, warehouse or other sensitive areas. You many want to use the access control system to track employees as they come and go. Another consideration is how secure do you need the system to be. For example, a basic system uses keypad or swipe. Some security needs may require multiple levels of authentication using a card and thumbprint. Finally, what other systems need to be connected. Two examples are a monitored alarm system and video surveillance systems.
Size and Functions
Key questions for design and determining the size and functions needed are:
- Number of employees, contractors and others needing access
- Number of openings and gates to be controlled
- Video surveillance needs
- Door functions; used by customers or only for employees
- Doors designated as fire doors
- Doors designated free exit or controlled exit for additional security
- Types of reports and tracking needed
- Scheduling opening and locking of doors
- Control of changes to personnel access, scheduling and locking functions
- Battery backup
- Specialized need for on demand access such as badge printing for vendors
Selecting the components
- Need way for authorized users to identify themselves (how will I get in)
- Need way for all users to have free egress from the interior out (how will I get out)
- Locking device to secure the door (how will I secure the door)
- Controller to manage the interaction between entry devices, egress devices and locking devices (how will system be controlled)
- Other specific requirements; audit tracking, time based opening of doors, battery back-up (what other functionality is needed)
How Will I Get In - In all locking systems, the secure lock needs to be released by a physical object such as a standalone lock, key, fingerprint or combination. Each access control device listed has its advantages and disadvantages. Speed of install, cost, reliability, and ability to be monitored are considerations. Types include:
- Stand-alone locks
- Card readers
- Key switches
- Biometric systems
How Will I Get Out - There are a variety of egress devices to ensure ability to exit a secure door. Options provide varying levels of security and ease of egress. Types include:
- Push Button Exit
- Push Bars
- Emergency Exits
- Motion Sensors
- Delayed Egress
How will I Secure the Door
A locking device is the physical security barrier. Durability, quick operation, ease of installation, power requirements, and security level needs are considerations. Types include:
- Electric Latch Retraction
- Electromagnetic Lock
- Electric Strike
- Electric Deadbolt
- Magnetic Shear Locks
- Electrified Lockset
How Will System Be Controlled
Updating, reporting, auditing and tracking are critical functions for an effective access control system. One of the biggest differences between access control systems is the software used to manage them. Access control software should be easy to use and not create a new level of administrative complexity. Administrators should easily be able to add employees, change access level, define groups and create reports and audits. The software should have adequate capacity to grow beyond current employee and door counts. Take into account PC requirements, matching operating systems to software for server-based solutions. Other solutions are hosted and cloud-based. Integration with other systems such as an alarm system can be a critical evaluation requirement.
Choosing a Door Access Control Manufacturer and Vendor
Take time to ask lots of detailed questions of the access control manufacturer and vendor. You want a vendor who is large enough to be stable and provide timely customer service when needed, yet small enough to be responsive to your needs. The best vendors ask you lots of questions. They will walk you through the specification process to design a solution that best fits your needs.
Look for a vendor with a wide range of customers, and hopefully with experience in your industry. Avoid vendors that handle mostly residential systems. Businesses need commercial-grade access control systems for reliability. You’ll want a vendor that represents multiple lines and has extensive experience in supporting the products you select. Look for hardware that meets industry standards and systems that are “open” to integrate with other components.
Integration and Installation
Door access control systems have technology and mechanical door components. Look for an integration vendor, one that has resources and experience to make the door, alarm and other hardware components work with the software. Every opening has quirks and can be prone to outside factors that impact system performance. Often times there is custom work involved in linking systems. An integration vendor has hardware installers working with the technology resources, eliminating the middleman and finger pointing. Also make sure your vendor has knowledge of local and national code for hardware used on fire and exit doors.
AIP Total Access, a division of Architectural Interior Products, provides access control and security solutions in West Virginia. We are the one-stop-shop when it comes to door opening security. We provide both the hardware and technology technicians. AIP Total Access can do everything from system design, installing video surveillance and access control, re-keying your locks, to making adjustments to your hardware so that your door closes and latches properly.
Security of your facility and people is our #1 priority. Call us for a consultation!