Volume 50, Issue 4 - April 2015


The Force is With You:
Next-Generation Access Control

One of the most memorable commercials of the 2011 Super Bowl featured a young boy dressed up as Darth Vader. The pint-size, Dark Side mastermind was amazed when he “used the force” and automatically started his father’s car. Of course, the “force” was his dad, using a key fob to start the engine remotely, but through the eyes of a child the moment seemed mesmerizing.

As automatic locking and remote starts have evolved in the automotive industry, so too has automated hardware for glass entrance systems. Access control has expanded to include many new developments.

According to Jim Lee, president of JLM Wholesale Hardware in Oxford, Mich., one trend he’s seen growing in electrified hardware is retrofitted electric latch retraction kits for exit devices.

“Some do not require the exit device to be removed from the door for installation,” he says. “In some installations, motorized or quiet electrified hardware is required.”

Scott Hammond, a sales manager with JLM, adds that more electrified locking components are being integrated into access control systems, which allows for greater building security.

“Additionally, there are trends toward completely keyless, surface-mounted door locks for both single and double all-glass doors,” says Hammond. “These touch-screen locks are sleek and aesthetically pleasing.”

On the installation side, Robert Massey Jr., president of Massey’s Plate Glass in Branford, Conn., says his company is frequently involved in automatic entry doors. Speaking of these systems, he says one of the main considerations involves aesthetics.

“Architects want the narrowest profile, but a lot of these systems only work with wide rails, so that’s always an issue,” he says, explaining architects don’t always understand that this entrance style requires more components and may seem boxy compared to manual systems.

A power supply, such as the Securitron BPS series, provides the necessary power to activate electric strikes, which can be found on many glass entrances.

System interfacing is another consideration. Massey says there’s either a sensor or a push button with automatic door closers, but the question is how will that work with the building security system?

“[You could have] key fobs, thumb prints, etc. Something has to tell the door to open and unlatch at the same time. So there is a lot of interface in how it all has to work together,” says Massey.

In these cases, he says they work closely with their suppliers.

“They are familiar with the interfacing and can [explain] what will work,” he says. “It’s still a learning curve because every building is different. I think we’ll see more and more of it, just like the transition from stick-built to unitized curtainwall.”

David Boehmer, vice president of National Door Systems LLC in Pontiac, Mich., says his company gets involved with many different types of automatic entrance installations.

“I see the world heading to higher security, especially in buildings,” he says. “So we will see more card access in buildings, more security products, etc. It’s a less invasive way of coming and going.”

So, what’s driving this push toward automatic systems? Simply put, security.

Boehmer says, “Everyone is heading to higher security … [building owners want to] control who goes where and when. The entire storefront industry is heading to higher security openings, such as electrified hardware with higher-end security products.”

Lee adds, “We believe electrified hardware will continue to advance and become more the norm than the exception in the future. Amperage requirements for electrified hardware will decrease in the very near future as more power-over-Ethernet applications become popular.”

—Ellen Rogers

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