Access control system is a very attractive and affordable investment that will deliver good returns over its lifetime
An access control system can be an excellent and an invaluable tool for enhancing business efficiency

The picture that comes into most people’s minds when thinking about access control systems is someone offering a badge up to a card reader to unlock a door or release a barrier so that they can get into or out of a building. And, of course, this is a primary function for most installations. The capabilities of modern access control systems extend far beyond simply controlling who can get into a building. In this article, Alistair Enser of Siemens Building Technologies Division, Security Products business segment explores how access control can be used as an effective tool to enhance business efficiency and benefit an organisation in number of ways.

Improve payroll efficiency

Modern access control systems can supply data in a format that is readily compatible with payroll packages, so the tedious and error-prone process of entering staff attendance data manually can be completely eliminated. Even in moderately sized organisations, this leads to useful savings and efficiency improvements in the payroll department and, for larger organisations, the savings can be very substantial.

Enhance building security

Now let’s look at what an access control system can do inside the building. It can, of course, be used to limit access to specific areas, ensuring that only authorised staff can enter them. Particularly in multiple occupancy buildings, it is often also useful to tie the operation of lifts into the access control system, so that users can only send the lifts to the floors occupied by the company for which they work.

A well-implemented access control system can start its work even before staff and visitors reach the building

It’s worth noting that access control can also take into account the time of day and day of the week. This means that staff who have access to a building or an office during normal working hours can be barred at other times. Conversely, cleaning staff can be allowed access only after the normal working day is finished.

Some systems can go further by, for example, providing an effective solution to the perennial problem of bookings for meeting rooms and similar shared facilities, making it possible for authorised users to book the room or facility on-line. Then, at the appropriate time – but not at other times – their access control badge or card will allow entry. Arguments over bookings and wasted administrative time controlling the bookings manually are eliminated.

Save costs

using access control passes to control printing and photocopying
Access control passes can be used to control printing to permit people to print only what is needed - saving on costs

Many organisations these days are using access control passes to control printing and photocopying – before they can make a copy or print a document, the pass holder has to present their pass to the machine. This not only means that unauthorised usage is eliminated, but also that records can easily be kept of the volume of copying and printing carried out by individual users. This is a big incentive to print only what is necessary, thereby saving costs, protecting the environment.  It also ensures the security of confidential documents.

Cashless vending services can also be implemented using the same access control passes. This avoids the expense and inconvenience of having to issue separate passes, and also means that when a pass needs to be issued, cancelled or updated, the job only has to be done once. Again, this can lead to big savings in administrative time and costs.

Reduce energy bills and protect the environment:

For many users, however, one of the biggest benefits of installing a modern access control system is that it greatly reduces their energy bills and, therefore, their carbon emissions.

This is achieved by arranging for the access control system to exchange data with the building management system. Since the access control system knows which areas of the building are occupied, once this interchange of data has been enabled, it is a relatively simple matter to configure the building management system so that it automatically turns off unnecessary lighting and reduces the heating in unoccupied areas.

Solve car parking issues

Reducing energy cost and helping the environment
One of the biggest benefits of installing a modern access control system is that it greatly reduces their energy bills

A well-implemented access control system can start its work even before staff and visitors reach the building, by controlling entry and exit to the car park. Modern systems can be programmed to allow access only to authorised cars, or simply to count cars in until the car park is full, and then to bar further entries.

Clearly modern access control systems have a lot to offer, but when it comes to installing such a system, there is always one element that we have not considered. This is availability of budget or lack of it. Before assuming that there is insufficient money available to install a system, it is worth looking again at the features and facilities discussed in this article, many of which lead directly to cost savings.

Selecting an expert access control installer

The features described apply to modern systems that have been designed from the outset with versatility in mind, and some of the bespoke functions, like the lottery system for car parking, rely on the expertise of the supplier for successful implementation.

It is always worthwhile seeking out a supplier that has a good track record in the access control field and that combines market-leading products with expert support. Bear this in mind, and there’s no doubt at all that an access control system can be an excellent and an invaluable tool for enhancing business efficiency.

By taking an overall view that includes savings on administration, reductions in energy usage and better control over payroll, in addition to the improvements in security, it may well be found that an access control system is, in fact, a very attractive and affordable investment that will deliver good returns over its lifetime.

Alistair Enser of Siemens Alistair Enser
Siemens Building Technologies Division, Security Products business segment
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