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Secure access is arguably the FM’s number one priority when it comes to security on site. Grant Macdonald, Managing Director of Codelocks, reasons why he expects digital locks to take up more and more of the access control marketplace.

Traditionally, if FMs needed an access control product with enhanced features such as audit trail, the options were either a hardwired system or a bespoke data transfer method such as radio- frequency identification (RFID). However, over the years, technology has significantly improved the performance of the battery-operated digital lock making it increasingly capable. High-specification electronic locks can now perform




functions only previously available in more expensive access control systems, making them a viable and cost-effective alternative.

Technology changes have significantly influenced the way digital locks are programmed. For example, to change the access code on most single-code mechanical locks you have to remove the lock from the door. With electronic locks, you don’t have to – the codes can be programmed via the keypad.

Digital locks are now available with the ability to program via a PC, using software to change and manage access permissions. The new settings are then uploaded to the lock via a USB stick. This feature can save a significant amount of time and also make it much more likely that the codes are changed on a regular basis, especially if you are responsible for updating and controlling the access codes for tens or hundreds of digital locks on a large building complex. All the access codes and programs can be viewed on the computer, giving you clear visibility of how, where and when access permissions were set up and used.

Another innovation improving the way in which digital lock access permissions are controlled is the ability to issue codes remotely. A


secure web-based application allows a unique time-sensitive access code to be generated for an individual or group of electronic locks, usually issued from a remote location. This works by configuring the locks prior to dispatch with a unique matching algorithm to the web-based software, which allows the software to predict the access code on the installed lock at any given time.

This feature enables FMs to grant temporary access to machinery or equipment locked inside cabinets, so that authorised personnel can gain access unaccompanied. This might be, for example, where access is required for routine or one-off maintenance purposes. Using the application, FMs can generate a code and send it directly to the person needing access via an SMS text message or email. Time-sensitive access codes are a more secure way to grant access, as the code will not work outside a designated timeslot.

Technology advances continue to enable improvements in the performance and capability of standalone electronic digital locks, making them a cost-effective alternative to many traditional systems. Further development of the programming features will extend the scope of electronic keyless locks and their ability to serve new markets. In the future, new ways of controlling digital locks – with smartphones or tablet applications – will add to their usability and help the products secure an even bigger share of the access control market.

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