As security systems age, their components become obsolete, end users outgrow them, or end users may be faced with expensive and time consuming upgrades. Users can spend months researching new solutions or take a chance on a lengthy upgrade with unforeseen challenges and costs. Both options include finding money in the budget for a new system, upgrades or labour expenses that often were not planned for or expected. However, Kim Rahfaldt, Public Relations Manager at AMAG Technology, offers another solution. A retrofit solution offers hardware, software, and processes that allow a company to upgrade quickly, easily and affordably while protecting their current security investment. A retrofit solution allows users to reuse much of their existing infrastructure, frequently including enclosures, wiring, readers, and cards. This offers a large savings in both time and money. Installation time is drastically reduced compared to full system replacement, minimising business disruptions.
The easiest to install retrofit systems on the market take only minutes to swap out and no tools are required. The installer simply unplugs and removes the obsolete circuit boards and replaces them with the new equivalent board. The plug and play boards slide into the existing enclosure and are reconnected. Activate the power and the new system is operational within minutes per location. End users save big on installation costs and integrators complete system upgrades quickly.
Preparation is Key to Success
End users should analyse the company’s projected needs for at least the next 10 years to determine what type of retrofit solution to choose. What is the expected growth? Which technologies are necessary to support that growth? Video, intrusion, visitor management, and other options must be considered. The system should integrate with key technology partners to provide a complete solution for any security need, whether it be video, audio, biometric technology, fault tolerant servers, etc.
Choosing the right product upfront can save thousands of dollars later.
When selecting a vendor, end users should contact two or three to ask questions and learn more about the company, products, and delivery against commitments. After all, in addition to installing a new security platform, end users are entering into a long time relationship with the supplier.
Look for a manufacturer that provides professional services and product lifecycle management support. These support teams show users how to leverage their security system capabilities to the fullest extent, implementing and maximising all feature sets within the access control software. When done right, a professional services team instils a teamwork approach with the end user, integrator and manufacturer to ensure all parties’ voices are heard and the product is being utilised to its fullest extent.
Choose manufacturers that have ISO 9001, ISO 14000, ISO 27000, RoHS, UL294 compliance, and are CE Certified.
What are the End User’s Needs?
End users cannot shut down their security systems for long periods of time. The manufacturer and integrator must work together to ensure a smooth transition from the old, obsolete system to the new retrofit solution with minimal to no system downtime. A plug-and-play retrofit system that can operate alongside the old system provides a low-risk, easy to install option.
|Retrofits are quick to install so integrators won’t waste weeks at job sites performing a rip and replace|
The end user needs to find a true partner in their manufacturer. The manufacturer must produce quality products, deliver exceptional customer service and believe in cultivating relationships. End users demand an easy to use, intuitive access control retrofit system that is easy to learn and train staff, is cost effective, scalable and can grow with them.
How Does the Integrator Benefit?
When a product becomes antiquated or support is no longer offered, the integrator is often who deals with an irate customer through no fault of their own. Offering a retrofit solution could be the best alternative. The integrator saves the day and the end user saves money because they can reuse their existing readers, cards, enclosures and wiring.
Retrofits are quick to install so integrators won’t waste weeks at job sites performing a rip and replace. They’ll swap out the boards, make sure everything is running smoothly and move on to the next job. They are working smarter and positively impacting their bottom line.
On the flip side, retrofit solutions offer an opportunity for ongoing work over a period of time. Some customers have large systems with multiple locations that they need to retrofit. These large customers will want to plan out and phase in their systems. This means they’ll purchase product and installation services month after month until completed.
The Benefits of a Plug-and-Play Retrofit Solution
End users must consider the installation process as they migrate to their new networked system. Simple circuit board replacement offers the most cost and time saving. The end user reuses the existing enclosures, fitting the same wall space. A simple change out of the boards is all that is required. All wiring infrastructure remains intact, saving money on the labour expense to remove it and install new wiring. The new circuit board operates flawlessly with the existing wiring.
Support for all existing communications topologies of the legacy system, including downstream controllers where multiple access control panels communicate with the host software through one Ethernet port is essential. This should be supported through a plug-and-play procedure where no wiring changes are required. Dial-up support may also be a requirement.
Choose a retrofit system that supports reader protocols that match existing equipment (such as F/2F, often used in legacy systems). This allows the end user to reuse its existing readers and badges, which saves on time, cost, and disruption caused when replacing an access control system.
When an access control system retrofit is done properly, end users receive a new, state-of-the-art, hardware and software platform that meets their requirements, upgrades their system to modern technology standards, eliminates risk, protects current investments and reduces costs
Experience Matters – Not Just Product
Today there are commodity plug-and play boards that allow any vendor to claim to offer a retrofit solution. The reality, however, is that replacing the boards are only a part of a retrofit, and in some ways the easier part. Research the solutions available. Does the manufacture have a PROVEN database conversion process? The last thing a customer wants is to be the “guinea pig” as manufacturers figure things out on the fly.
An experienced supplier provides support to identify and plan the entire migration. This will minimise downtime and duplication of effort. While many suppliers can assist with conversion of cardholder data, investigate what else can be transferred to the new system. Some manufacturers can convert access rights and areas, significantly reducing the manual effort involved in a conversion. Understand the specifics regarding database conversion and overall migration process before committing to a retrofit product. Make sure that this process has been honed by real-world experience.
When an access control system retrofit is done properly, end users receive a new, state-of-the-art, hardware and software platform that meets their requirements, upgrades their system to modern technology standards, eliminates risk, protects current investments and reduces costs. Integrators can offer solutions to frustrated customers and watch their business grow. Both parties win, making retrofit solutions a great alternative.