Electronic locking devices - Expert commentary

Moving to sophisticated electric locking
Moving to sophisticated electric locking

In part one of this feature, we introduced the shotbolt – a solenoid actuator – as the workhorse at the heart of most straightforward electric locking systems. Shotbolts remain at the core of most sophisticated electric locking solutions as well. But they are supplemented by materials and technologies that provide characteristics suited to specialist security applications. Here we look at some more demanding electric locking applications and contemporary solutions. Preventing forced entry Where the end of the shotbolt is accessible, the electric holding force can be overcome by physical force. That’s why anti-jacking technology is now a frequent feature of contemporary electric solenoid lock actuators. Anti-jacking, dead-locking or ‘bloc’ technology (the latter patented by MSL) is inherent to the way the locking assembly is designed to suit the requirements of the end application. The patented bloc anti-jacking system is highly effective and incorporated into many MSL shotbolts deployed in electric locking applications. The bloc technology uses a ring of steel balls in a shaped internal housing to physically jam the actuated bolt in place. A range of marine locks is widely used on Superyachts for rapid lockdown security from the helm Real life applications for MSL anti-jacking and bloc-equipped shotbolts include installation in the back of supermarket trucks to secure the roller shutter. Once locked from the cab, or remotely using radio technology, these shutters cannot be forced open by anyone with ‘undesirable intentions’ armed with a jemmy. A range of marine locks is widely used on Superyachts for rapid lockdown security from the helm. While anti-jacking features are an option on these shotbolts, consideration was given to the construction materials to provide durability in saltwater environments. Marine locks use corrosion-proof stainless steel, which is also highly polished to be aesthetically pleasing to suit the prestigious nature of the vessel while hiding the innovative technology that prevents the lock being forced open by intruders who may board the craft. Rotary and proportional solenoids sound unlikely but are now common A less obvious example of integrated technology to prevent forced override is a floor lock. This lock assembly is mounted beneath the floor with round-top stainless-steel bolts that project upwards when actuated. They are designed to lock all-glass doors and are arguably the only discreet and attractive way to lock glass doors securely. In a prestigious installation at a historic entranceway in Edinburgh University, the floor locks are remotely controlled from an emergency button behind the reception desk. They act on twin sets of glass doors to quickly allow the doors to close and then lock them closed with another set of subfloor locks. No amount of stamping on or hitting the 15mm protruding bolt pin will cause it to yield, thus preventing intruders from entering. Or leaving! Explosion proofing In many environments, electric locking technology must be ATEX certified to mitigate any risk of explosion. For example, remote electric locking is used widely on oil and gas rigs for stringent access control, general security and for emergency shutter release in the event of fire. It’s also used across many industrial sectors where explosion risks exist, including flour milling, In many environments, electric locking technology must be ATEX certified to mitigate any risk of explosionpowder producers, paint manufacture, etc. This adds a new dimension to the actuator design, demanding not only intrinsically safe electrical circuits and solenoid coils, but the careful selection of metals and materials to eliminate the chance of sparks arising from moving parts. Resilience under pressure The technology boundaries of solenoids are always being pushed. Rotary and proportional solenoids sound unlikely but are now common. More recently, while not directly related to security in the traditional sense, proportional solenoid valves for accurately controlling the flow of hydrogen and gases now exist. Magnet Schultz has an extensive and somewhat innovative new range of hydrogen valves proving popular in the energy and automotive sectors (Fig. 2-6). There’s a different kind of security risk at play here when dealing with hydrogen under pressures of up to 1050 bar. Bio security Less an issue for the complexity of locking technology but more an imperative for the effectiveness of an electric lock is the frequent use of shotbolts in the bio research sector. Remote electric locking is commonplace in many bioreactor applications. Cultures being grown inside bioreactors can be undesirable agents, making 100% dependable locking of bioreactor lids essential to prevent untimely access or the unwanted escape of organisms. Again, that has proven to be topical in the current climate of recurring coronavirus outbreaks around the world. More than meets the eye In part one, I started by headlining that there’s more to electric lock actuation in all manner of security applications than meets the eye and pointed out that while electric locking is among the most ubiquitous examples of everyday security, the complexity often involved and the advanced technologies deployed typically go unnoticed.Integrating the simplest linear actuator into a complex system is rarely simple For end users, that’s a very good thing. But for electro-mechanical engineers designing a system, it can present a challenge. Our goal at Magnet Schultz is to provide a clearer insight into today’s electric locking industry sector and the wide range of locking solutions available – from the straightforward to the specialised and sophisticated. Integrating the simplest linear actuator into a complex system is rarely simple. There’s no substitute for expertise and experience, and that’s what MSL offers as an outsource service to designers. One benefit afforded to those of us in the actuator industry with a very narrow but intense focus is not just understanding the advantages and limitations of solenoid technology, but the visibility of, and participation in, emerging developments in the science of electric locking. Knowing what’s achievable is invaluable in every project development phase.

Providing fast and secure access in life-threatening emergencies
Providing fast and secure access in life-threatening emergencies

A defibrillator can save the life of a person suffering from cardiac arrest – but it is most effective when used in the first few minutes of the patient collapsing. Studies have shown that a shock given within the first three minutes provides the best chance of survival and even one minute of further delay can substantially lower the chances of recovering. Public Access Defibrillators (PADs) were created to allow untrained members of the public to deliver life-saving treatment in those precious minutes before an ambulance arrives. There are currently over 10,000 in the UK, located in parks, offices, high streets and sporting venues, and they are especially popular in rural communities, where ambulance response times are longer. Every second counts Over the years there has been a long-running debate as to whether PADs should be kept openly accessible or locked. Leaving them open could lead to theft, vandalism or misuse. Leaving them locked could mean that precious moments are lost waiting for a local guardian to arrive – and could even cost a life. To save as many lives as possible, it’s clear that PADs need to be available 24/7, fully operational and easily accessible to users and local guardians. But there is a solution that can meet all these conditions – a lock that can protect against vandalism while providing convenient instant access when required. Life-saving solutions Over the years there has been a long-running debate as to whether PADs should be kept openly accessible or lockedDigital locks are ideal for securing PADs because they don’t require a key, and anyone can be given access over the phone. In the case of a cardiac arrest, the user calls 999 and the ambulance controller provides them with a simple, easy-to-remember code. The ambulance controller can then advise them, step by step, what to do. Local guardians, who have responsibility for the PAD, can be provided with an override key to enable them to monitor and maintain the defibrillator. The PAD cabinets built by Duchy Defibrillators show exactly how this works in practice. Based in rural Cornwall, Duchy Defibrillators manufactures, supplies and installs monitored PAD cabinets. To provide public access to the defibrillators, it needed a lock that could keep its cabinets secure, make them easily accessible and withstand the stormy Cornish weather. Codelocks recommended a digital electronic lock that could operate on a standalone battery, making it especially suitable for remote areas. As well as offering flexible access, digital locks come with a range of varying options and functions to suit different applications. As Duchy Defibrillator cabinets are installed in a wide variety of locations and sometimes need to withstand outdoor exposure, it opted for a robust electronic digital lock that is both affordable and easy to set up. A digital-access revolution Using smart locks in combination with a dedicated app or portal allows operators to send time-sensitive codes to end-users The example of Duchy Defibrillators shows how digital locks can be used to keep defibrillator cabinets secure while affording instant access to users when they are needed. But the flexibility of digital locks also makes them suitable for securing property and equipment in a wide variety of situations, especially for shared and public facilities. This is why you’ll increasingly see digital locks used to secure restricted areas in hospitals, schools and offices, as well as shared facilities like hotel and gym lockers, public restrooms and more. Digital locks are available for a number of specific applications, including doors, lockers and cabinets. They can range from simple mechanical locks through to more sophisticated electronic locks and state-of-the-art smart locks. Using smart locks in combination with a dedicated app or portal allows operators to send time-sensitive codes to end users – making them very popular for contactless entry and with facilities managers that need to manage access to buildings and campuses. One thing is certain – whatever your access control requirements are, there’s a keyless lock solution to suit. The digital access revolution is here.

Automatic gates: Making the right investment for access control
Automatic gates: Making the right investment for access control

The experience of the COVID-19 pandemic has made us all more conscious of who is coming and going from our property. Whether it is a family home, business premises or public building, property owners want full control over access for protection and peace of mind. As a provider of access control technologies, we are seeing a growing demand for automated gates with a variety of access control systems. There are a number of considerations that buyers need to make when investing. And as an installer, there is advice that you can offer to help your clients make the right choice for their property. Here are some of the key considerations you’ll need to make and discuss with your client. Whomever you buy from, you should be offered more than a simple instruction manual. Electronic locks, magnetic locks and code security In the first instance, you’ll need to advise on the type of lock and access control available. Electronic locks release on the operation of the automation system to allow the gates to open. Locks are required for all non-locking (also known as reversible) operators and are recommended for any gate on a multi-user site or any gate over 2.5m. Apply the same logic to an automated gate as you would to a domestic door – for example, you wouldn’t fit your front door with a lock on the same side as the hinges or a drop bolt at the hinge end of a manual gate so why dispense with this logic when the gate is automated? Electronic locks release on the operation of the automation system to allow the gates to open There are a number of locks on the market including magnetic locks, drop locks that “shoot” a bolt into the ground and side latching locks. These are all designed for external use. While the gate itself will provide physical security, the customer will want to feel in control of who enters their property, when and for what purpose. Consider access for post and deliveries, waste disposal and visitors arriving on foot etc. There is a range of options available. Intercom systems will allow the user to vet visitors, keypad entry can allow remote access for visitors with a specific code, remote controls allow an oncoming driver to open the gates without getting out of the vehicle, and a timer control can be used to open or close the gates at certain times of the day. Vehicle detection loops can be installed discreetly under the tarmac allowing the presence of vehicles to exit the gates and prevent closing whilst obstructed. Sliding gates versus swinging gates There are a number of locks on the market including magnetic locks, drop locks that “shoot” a bolt into the ground and side latching locks Gates can be automated to either swing or to slide open and in the case of swinging gates, the opener may be concealed underground or gate mounted. The most suitable opener for your installation will depend on the space available and the type of gate selected. Concealed underground automation is ideal for highly ornate gates. However, where gates are fully infilled (typical of many timber designs), gate mounted openers are concealed from the front of the gate by the gate leaf and present a cost-effective option. The choice between slide and swing is largely down to space - swing gates require a clear space for their opening arc whilst sliding gates require space to one or both sides of the gate. Sliding gates are perhaps the best choice where the drive slopes or when drive space is limited, as they use the least space when opening. Voltage Most swing gate and sliding systems are available in 24v or 230v. The 24v systems still need 230v mains power – there is a transformer built into the 24v control panels. Deciding which voltage to use can include a combination of factors such as the material of the gates, the location of the system and the safety features you want. Concealed underground automation is ideal for highly ornate gates With wrought iron gates, the wind can pass through them whereas with fully boarded wooden gates (popular because they give full privacy) the wind has nowhere to go, so they act like sails. For commercial or industrial applications with larger entrances and a heavy gate, you may need 3 Phase 400v power (sliding gates only). Installing gate motors in confined spaces The environment in which you are fitting may well influence which gate and motor you recommend. Will it be in an exposed area which is subject to the elements? Will it be positioned on a slope? Sliding gates are perhaps the best choice where the drive slopes or when drive space is limited Installers have always faced the challenge of installing gate motors in confined spaces. When fitting a pedestrian gate, there is often limited space in which to work – potentially making an installation time consuming and technically demanding. If this is the case for you, consider a gate operator which is designed specifically for installations with limited space for manoeuvre. An example of this is the E5 compact gate operator. The operator is not only small but has an optional slide lever attachment designed for installations where there is extremely limited space, meaning that just 8cm of the pillar is needed for installation. What’s more, improved fixing points and a simple ‘hook and fasten’ process means assembly is safe, quick and straight forward. Ultimately, you’ll be looking for a good quality, reliable product with good service. Work with a supplier that offers more than just a manual. If they are happy to offer training, their time and advice when you buy, the chances are you’ll get their support long term.

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Download: Securing student accommodation for the next generation
Download: Securing student accommodation for the next generation

Students consider many factors when choosing where to study and to live. Undoubtedly, they are increasingly aware of their security needs.  Halls of residence that work in tandem with modern lifestyle technologies are attractive to this new generation of students. Simply installing some basic PIN-pads at communal entrances, with no intelligent access control back-up, is little better than a wide open door. The real key is electronic access control. This white paper from ASSA ABLOY explains how SMARTair™ provides highly performing, convenient wireless access control for student accommodation.  Find out more about: High traffic, smart control Top 5 student security challenges Top 5 access control advantages SMARTair™ wireless access control Protecting Europe's students 

Securing student accommodation with SMARTair™ access control
Securing student accommodation with SMARTair™ access control

Given the choice, would you rather run security at a bank vault or at a student halls of residence? At least the bank job is straightforward: Keep the money inside, and everyone else out. If only protecting hundreds of young people was so easy.   Securing student accommodation Student accommodation blocks are usually large, with high traffic moving from bedrooms to common areas, canteens and libraries. A single resident travelling between her room, a study area, the gym and a couple of trips offsite would use secure doors 15 times a day. In a residence housing just 200 students, that’s 3,000 daily events for the access system to handle. Rapid student turnover puts a further admin burden on facility managers. Imagine, among hundreds of students living at the halls, just a handful leave or arrive each semester. That’s a couple of manual key handovers to schedule every week, and to chase if a key-holder fails to appear. If keys are not handed in, is a room really secure for its next occupant? And how can you know if one has been copied? With physical keys and mechanical locks, security lacks flexibility, and it’s impossible to get a site overview without a time-wasting manual key audit. Today’s students, tomorrow’s secure solutions Mechanical security is not the answer, because mechanical locks don’t offer the control or flexibility managers need. There’s no real-time monitoring, and you can’t generate detailed audit trails for locks or users, meaning there’s no easy way to track unauthorised access — in cases of a theft, for example. The current crop of students — so-called “Generation Z” — were raised as digital natives. They expect convenience as a standard feature, not a mechanical solution first used in Ancient Egypt. In Europe’s increasingly international, marketised higher education system, attracting these tech-savvy students and keeping them satisfied with the campus experience are critical.A wireless access control system like SMARTair™ solves admin problems with a combination of control and cost-effectiveness The SMARTair™ wireless access system is built to meet the challenges of securing a student residence: A system needs the product and software robustness to handle so many users, high traffic, and fast resident turnover. SMARTair™ has it. A system should make student life easier with cards, rather than keys. SMARTair™ does. A system should secure more than just doors, including cabinet locks and devices to protect secure areas like car parks. SMARTair™ does. A system must be easy to upgrade in the future, both adding new doors and upgrading the functionality of the devices already installed. SMARTair™ is; it future-proofs your investment. A system should be able to handle additional student services like the vending machines and canteen on the same credential card as the room door lock. SMARTair™ can. Swapping mechanical for wirelessA wireless access control system like SMARTair™ solves admin problems with a combination of control and cost-effectiveness. It is based on battery-powered locks and is easy to retrofit wirelessly to existing premises or incorporate in a new-build. Installers simply swap the existing mechanical lock for a wireless device and link the door to the management software. Slim, robust SMARTair™ devices can secure almost any opening. Escutcheons (with optional keypad for added security) are ideal for student bedrooms, and fit wood or glass, emergency exit and even fire doors. Available with or without PIN entry, SMARTair™ wall readers can filter lift, main door or car park access. The SMARTair™ knob cylinder is easy to retrofit to management offices; you just replace an existing mechanical cylinder with the SMARTair™ device. For storing belongings, SMARTair™ cabinet and locker locks are configurable in the same system without the need for an extra module. With SMARTair™, students come and go using programmable smart cards, tags, or even the secure SMARTair™ mobile app — not a cumbersome, easy-to-lose key. SMARTair™ devices support all major RFID technologies. Plus, students only need carry one credential to open their door and access additional onsite services. A single card to unlock their room, secure their belongings inside a locker, enter the library, pay for photocopying and buy lunch makes sense for them. It’s another step to boosting resident convenience.Because SMARTair™ devices run on standard batteries, the system is also cost-effective for accommodation providers And because SMARTair™ devices run on standard batteries, the system is also cost-effective for accommodation providers. Already trusted by students all over Europe SMARTair™ is already making life easier for student residence managers all over Europe, including at Mezzino’s Rialto Court in Middlesbrough, UK. “We are so pleased with the result. We are already looking to adopt the access control system for the other student accommodation properties we manage nationwide,” says James McGrath, Mezzino’s co-owner and director. At Funway Academic Resort in Madrid (www.funwayresort.com), student rooms are locked with SMARTair™ escutcheons. Energy-saving wall devices inside rooms regulate electricity use, and students have an individual safe fitted with a SMARTair™ cabinet lock. Students and staff open all their authorised doors with the same access card: the Funway gym, study rooms, games rooms, swimming pool and changing rooms, spa and staff areas are also locked with SMARTair™ escutcheons. “The system meets the expectations we had and offers very easy maintenance,” says Mario Arias, Facility Manager at Funway.  To discover how SMARTair™ can upgrade student security and put you in total control of your halls of residence, visit www.tesa.es/smartair-students

SMARTair™ advanced wireless access control utilised by the Casa de la Misericordia care home in Pamplona
SMARTair™ advanced wireless access control utilised by the Casa de la Misericordia care home in Pamplona

When it comes to securing a residential care home, there are no second chances. You need access control you can trust. In Pamplona, the Casa de la Misericordia care home put its trust in SMARTair™, advanced wireless access control from ASSA ABLOY. Caring for elderly residents Caring for vulnerable or elderly people presents a unique set of security challenges. Crucially when it comes to access control, residents may find it difficult to adapt to new or complex technology. Yet at the same time, an advanced system can hugely benefit this client group. Access control that feeds back to site managers in real time can directly impact quality of care, enabling staff to respond to incidents as soon as they arise. Residents aren’t the only ones that use a care home’s access system. Staff, volunteers and visitors must also be kept safe And, of course, residents aren’t the only ones that use a care home’s access system. Staff, volunteers and visitors must also be kept safe. What’s needed is a system that is both easy to operate and equipped with advanced access control features — a system like SMARTair™ Wireless Online. Flexible and expandable system To assist in the day-to-day care of over 500 residents, Pamplona’s Casa de la Misericordia had a specific set of demands for its new access system. Real-time control over the premises was essential in giving the residents the care they need, 24/7 and 365 days a year. “In a residence like ours it is critical to have real-time management that allows us to interact with a door at any time,” explains Ernesto Serra, Facility Manager at Casa de la Misericordia. The system also needed to be flexible and expandable, so it could be installed in 2 phases, starting with a new build before moving on to a building dating to the 1930s. Advanced wireless technology suited to retrofitting in an old building was another must-have: the older building has large doors and walls up to 1m thick. The new system needed to be flexible and scalable, so staff could manage access to 2 separate buildings from the same control point, amend access rights instantly, and tailor access privileges to the profiles of a varied set of site users, including staff, residents, volunteers, visitors and emergency workers. In a care-home environment, SMARTair™ upgrades security and convenience for both administrators and residents. SMARTair™ Wireless Online SMARTair™ Wireless Online met every requirement. With the 2-stage project complete — including 650 additional SMARTair™-enabled doors in the old building — access to the whole Casa de la Misericordia is managed from one control panel. Because SMARTair™ battery-powered components are fitted without the need for electric cabling, installing the system in a building with thick walls and doors was no problem. Installation was also quick, and minimised disruption to the day-to-day operation of the home. “A wireless solution that allows us to install access control without wiring up the buildings is a big advantage, the system has adapted to our present and future needs,” says Ernesto Serra. Remote management In a care-home environment, SMARTair™ upgrades security and convenience for both administrators and residents. With SMARTair™ Wireless Pro Online, system administrators can open any door remotely, without even being present at the premises. So, if there’s an on-site emergency, a security manager can open a door for any member of staff, even doors for which staff don’t usually have access permissions. It’s also easy to configure the system to detect use of an internal escutcheon handle. If a resident operates their room handle, the SMARTair™ system registers an event in real time, and can send an alert to security or care staff. With this feature, residents have the independence to come and go as they please, while those responsible for their care remain updated on movements. If a SMARTair™ card is lost, it takes a couple of click to cancel it. The costs, risks and inconveniences a mechanical key system have been eliminated A SMARTair™ Wireless Online installation also allows administrators to amend access rights on-the-go, so users can update their permissions without having to visit an access control point, cutting wasted staff time. SMARTair™ enables administrators to tailor fine-grained levels of access to the main entrance, drug and medicine rooms, residents’ private rooms, and any other configuration needed, for any individual. Practical advantages SMARTair™ practical advantages include battery-powered escutcheons and cylinders to fit wood, glass, emergency exit and fire-resistant doors, barriers, elevators, and more. The escutcheons can all be delivered with an antibacterial coating, for improved hygiene. Plus, there is a wide range of credentials, allowing every individual to open doors in the most convenient way. So, patients can carry a bracelet and tag for easy door opening. Managers can use the SMARTair™ app to open doors instantly from any Apple, Android or Windows smartphone. For staff, a standard RFID smart card is often the most convenient solution. The system also supports PIN and card+PIN multi-authentication, for an extra layer of security. At this Pamplona care home, SMARTair™ has provided a major security upgrade on mechanical keys. If a card is lost, it takes a couple of click to cancel it. The costs, risks and inconveniences a mechanical key system have been eliminated. For more information on how SMARTair™ access control is helping to protect the care homes of the future, visit www.tesa.es/smartair-residentialcare

Related white papers

Physical access control in higher education

The role of IT in physical access control

Securing student accommodation for the next generation