More in the lock, more to learn

As technology creeps further into the door, manufacturers offer more training and support
Monday, September 1, 2008

There is no doubt that the ever-broadening reach of technology in the security system space has penetrated even into locking systems.
But the question is, do integrators feel confident with the evolving technologies--confident enough that they'll install a wireless system, say, instead of a straight old traditional maglock or electric strike?
Right now, the basic way the market works is manufacturers develop the technology, market it and hope that integrators and channel partners ask for it, said Andrea Springeld, president of M. Zion Security Systems Corp. in lower Manhattan. M. Zion's customers include Dow Jones & Co., Rockefeller University, Sabra Foods and Houghton Mifflin, among others.
On the other side of the integrator, said Springeld, the clients ask, "What do you have?"
"I'm not comfortable shopping from catalogues," said Springeld, especially, she added, for installations.
"If we have to install, we have to feel more comfortable," said Springeld.
More training sessions from manufacturers on new locking system technologies--particularly wireless--would go a long way toward raising that comfort level, Springeld suggested.
And, she said, manufacturers should put more effort into exposing architects and other people that specify equipment to the latest and greatest locking tech. That would create a pull for the new systems, she said, and hopefully add a dose of reality into the specs.
"Architects are almost jacks of all trades. They tend to think they know everything," she said. "They create products in their specs that don't exist ..."
Lester LaPierre, director of business development at Assa Abloy Door Security Solutions, agreed that training, in particular, was key to getting new technologies actually off the shelves.
"If you're not comfortable with something, you're going to revert back. Technology is being pushed more and more to the openings. We're putting technology on the door, integrating it into the lock," said LaPierre. "I think the integrators really need to get comfortable with this idea. Panels are getting put into locks, into readers, the edge devices. That functionality is happening today."
LaPierre said some end-users are more accepting of the more cutting-edge aspect of technologies in locking systems--i.e., wireless systems used in the various devices that shut or open their doors.
"It all depends on their understanding of encryption technology," he said. "Think about it--many people go and buy stuff over the Internet. They're using their credit card information. Those same people understand that we're using Web encryption, leap technology, the open standard 128-bit encryption keys that protect the information. Those people are comfortable with technology."
Assa Abloy has a number of high-tech locking system offerings, including the recently released Hi-O (Highly Intelligent Openings) products. The products are opening components such as the lock, electric strike, credential reader, door operator, etc., that contain CANbus chips and plug-in connectors. CANbus stands for a Controller-area network bus, and is a long-standing protocol chiefly used in automotives. When your door is ajar and a light goes on in the dash, that's the CANbus system. When your mechanic plugs his computer into your car and knows all--that's CANbus.
Each Hi-O component has built-in intelligence and knows its function in the doorway. The lock knows it is a lock and how it should interact with the other components.
The whole system is self-configuring, explained LaPierre.
"You don't have to worry about setting the timing, you basically plug and play," he said. "What that brings is a quicker installation, more reliable installation, possibly with more cost-effective labor."
Assa Abloy has two certified programs for training, he said, an authorized channel and certified integrator program.
The company has seven training centers that are complete or nearing completion around the country, LaPierre said.
"An integrator can go there, learn the presale stuff like channel partners do, and on the second day get hands-on how to install a lock, go to our lab, work with swinging doors and real openings," said LePierre. "The whole idea is to show them the whole system from lock to panel."
The company is also setting up mobile training centers that can go to the integrators, he said.
Rick Rasmussen, who handles vertical sales in wireless systems at Stanley Security Solutions, asserted that integrator partners are vitally important. "Without factory-trained and skilled installers and maintenance personnel, wireless systems can be installed without providing proper signal 'coverage,'" Rasmussen said in an e-mail interview. "Stanley currently insists that integrators and dealers attend a three-day factory certification class in Indianapolis prior to becoming a certified dealer of Stanley Wireless access systems."
Beyond that, Rasmussen suggested that integrators should take every opportunity to attend tradeshows such as ASIS and ISC West so that they can continue to be exposed to the tipping-point technologies.
At Dortronics Systems Inc., Bryan Sanderford, national sales manager, said he's seeing a trend in locking systems toward increased interest in door-interlock systems for security mantraps and air locks.
Some of the latest advances from Dortronics, said Sanderford, are units that provide power and control for two- to eight-door configurations, including multiple room units, and with special timing functions built in. The door interlock logic allows only one door to be unsecured at a time. The controller can be configured to have both doors locked, both doors unlocked or one door locked and one door unlocked depending on the application.
He said Dortronics provides on-site support when needed, through its national sales representative organization. But, he added, "most of our customers are very knowledgeable and require little assistance."
"Dortronics products are shipped with detailed instructions that are easy to follow. More complex projects, such as those that incorporate mantrap controllers, are supplied with very detailed hook-up documentation including AutoCAD drawings," he said in an e-mail interview. "If an installation question does occur, answers are readily available by calling our toll-free number for factory support personnel."
Clearly, as more technology enters the locking system, more integrators will have to decide for themselves where to invest their training time. It's impossible to be certified, trained and knowledgeable on every product, so deeper relationships with manufacturers are likely to become a reality.
Stanley's Rasmussen posited that integrators and integration companies would become "the most important ally to manufacturers of this state-of-the-art technology." ssn