To anyone not directly involved in premises management, the terms Access Control or Access Control Systems probably don't mean a great deal. However we all use access control every day! When you leave the house in the morning, and lock the door behind you, you've just undertaken an access control action to stop unwanted people accessing your house.
When we talk about Access Control or Access Control systems, in our industry it tends to refer to electronic systems that are used to control who has access to a building or parts of a building. So, if you are working somewhere where you need a PIN code or have a card or fob that you wave at a box on the wall, then you are part of an access control system!
To a 'beginner', the whole topic of Access Control can seem a bit confusing. There's a whole range of terms such as Wiegand, MIFARE, proximity readers, controllers, maglocks, push-to-exit buttons and more that crop up regularly, and don't mean much! Don't panic - we can help! Over the course of this article we'll take a look at some of the main terms, the parts they relate to and how it all works together to form access control systems.
First things first!
Here's a scenario that you may encounter. You have a door into your premises that you wish to control access through. You want staff to be able to enter easily, but would like to screen visitors before letting them in.
To achieve this, there are a number of components to consider:
- An electric lock, maglock or strike release
- A 'Reader' device and associated credentials
- A Controller
- An Intercom
- A Power Supply
It's also worth asking yourself whether you need to have control over more than one door.
Each element above has a range of options available, and will also be influenced by where the system will be set up and who will be using it. Taking the items on the list in reverse order:
Power Supply. This is needed to provide power to all of the elements from the intercom, the reader, the controller and the lock or strike release. Some controllers will also contain an in built power supply, however it is always worth checking whether it will provide enough power for your needs. Also consider whether you require a battery back up in the event of a power failure. We have a range of power supplies batteries and other related items here.
Intercom. If you wish to screen visitors to your premises before they can enter, an intercom is the easiest way to do so. These days you can have audio and video options, and they can be wired or wireless. Some also feature a keypad which allows staff to enter a code to enter the building. Having spoken to your visitor you will then be able to release the door or gate simply by pressing a button. Take a look at the wide range of intercoms and door entry systems we have on the following link: https://www.locksonline.co.uk/Access-Control/Door-Entry-Systems-.html
Reader Device and Credentials. As mentioned above, this is the part of the system that your staff will use. Placed on the outside of the door, when a member of staff wishes to enter the building, they will enter a PIN code or present a card or fob to unlock the door (known as proximity access control). Finger prints can be used if a biometric reader is being used, it all depends on the level of security that is required. If the wrong code is entered, or the card or fob isn't recognised the door won't be unlocked. Sometimes a second reader is used on the inside of the door as well, or a 'push to exit button' which sends a message to the controller to unlock the door to let the person out. It is important to ensure that the credentials being used operate on the same format as the reader and controller i.e. speak the same language.
Electric Lock or Strike Release. When all the messages match up between the reader and controller, or a signal is received from the door release button on the intercom, the electric lock will be activated to allow the door to be opened. The type of lock used will depend on what the door is made of, where it is located and whether it opens inwards or outwards. The terms electric lock and strike release cover a broad range of products and you can find out more about them here:
As you can see there are a wide range of elements to include, even for a single door. When a system is scaled up over a number of doors, it is often then linked to a computer based software package, or web based programme. This allows for a greater level of control over the system, and can also provide lots of extra information relating to the 'state' of any given door (for example has it been wedged open?), which staff have entered or exited the building and so on. There is a great deal of flexibility in the design and configuration of systems and the additional functions and benefits that they offer.
We are able to offer a range of systems from standalone doors through to multi-site access control systems, and from all the major manufacturers. Whether you are looking to upgrade an existing system, or starting from scratch, we can help, so please do get in touch - give us a call, email us or chat through our Live Chat here on the website.