Integrated locksets from a number of manufacturers offer systems integrators, consultants and end users a new level of security. With Wi-Fi locksets, power over Ethernet (PoE) devices and a variety of Z-Wave, Bluetooth, 900 MHz, and IEEE 802.15.4 built products, the opportunities for additional security, traffic control and audit capabilities seem endless. But with all change comes challenge.

By combining electronics and wireless technologies into one lockset, we’re faced with the challenges of product sourcing, scope of work and responsible parties or trades. Let’s review the top 10 challenges and solutions when it comes to managing a security project using integrated locksets versus the traditional “around-the-door” components.

Look before you bid. With an integrated lockset, the first priority is to ensure the lock functions mechanically. The door must actually close, latch and lock securely, otherwise all the electronics becomes a moot point when it comes to securing the door.

For retrofit projects, the installation of new integrated electronic locks on existing doors often requires an on-site evaluation of the existing door hardware and current door preparations, prior to bidding the installation. Defective conditions of the door or frame or uncorrected misalignment can cause pinching of wires, malfunctioning of solenoids or linear actuators, and binding of bolts, latches, or other operational elements. If excessive re-machining, realignment, or repair of existing doors will be required, door and frame replacement may be needed. In order to provide the intended level of security, doors must close and latch reliably.

Not all parts are created equal. Whereas a three-quarter inch diameter door position switch, a standard electric strike, a card reader or a PIR request-to-exit device are pretty much interchangeable from door to door, in the world of locksets, each lock is assigned to a specific door or opening. Why? Because there are additional considerations unique to each lockset and door such as lock finish, lock function, door handing, key override and, in some cases with exit devices, door width and door height.

“Features and options that are to be included with the integrated electronic lock, such as door position switch, request-to-exit, latch bolt monitoring, hold-open alarm, deadbolt, quick-connection cables, voltage, hand, and selection of designer lever style and finish, all must be specified when the hardware is ordered,” explains Bob Cullum, AHC CFDA, vice president, Dugmore & Duncan, Hingham, Mass., a distributor of security door hardware and product solutions. Cullum is also president of Independent Fire Door Service, an active member of the Door and Hardware Institute and a certified fire door assembly inspector.  “Some options and functions can be configured at the jobsite and others have to be ordered in advance,” he adds.

Coordination is key. While the individual components mentioned above simply connect to the door controller via individual cables, an IP lockset requires an identification method so the system knows which door is transmitting data.

Futhermore, Cullum adds, “Most successful large-scale projects involve a detailed door and hardware schedule, an operational narrative about how each door will function, and a door machining template to ensure that the hardware you are supplying will be easily and accurately installed and operate correctly. Locks should be delivered to the jobsite labeled for the specific door they are to be installed on. Jobsite coordination involves the accurate placement of locks on specific doors.” 

Plan far in advance. Let’s face it, adding discrete components around the door generally involves a wall reader, an  electric strike or magnetic lock, a door position switch and a request-to-exit sensor or device — four separate components that are readily available from most wholesale houses with spares on your service vehicles. Not so with integrated locksets, which are built to order and can have lead times from four to six weeks.

This is due to the large number of lockset options. As an example, wall readers are available in a small variety of colors: usually black, grey or white. But one manufacturer of aesthetically designed locksets offers more than 40 finishes or lock colors, not to mention over 40 styles of lock levers.

Aesthetics matter. Cullum says that aesthetics play a big role in selecting integrated solutions. “The installation of disparate devices usually creates a ‘cluttered’ appearance and an industrial look that detracts from the desired aesthetic interior design. Visible door furniture, such as designer lever handles, escutcheons, and other peripheral components like door closers, protection plates, exposed hinge barrels, and signage can complement rather than detract from the intended look and feel of interior spaces. Pleasing designs and simple, one-motion operation in a compact format contributes to authorized occupants feeling safe yet unimpeded in schools, living spaces, and work places.” 

In-house staging. Shop preparation and staging is much preferred over jobsite preparation of integrated locksets. The integrator installer will have much better control of the products such as pairing with receiving devices and assigning address, installing batteries, etc. in their own shop environment rather than at a construction site.

Get the right training.  The first and most critical item involves the door prep to receive the lockset. “In my estimation, as much as 70 percent of access control products are currently being installed on existing doors in occupied buildings,” Cullum says.

Most new construction projects will have doors that are pre-prepared by a supplier. The installer may have to make minor modifications so the selected lockset can be installed, but by and large, each lock will install with little problem. Existing doors are a different challenge. Best practice would be for the integrator to become trained and proficient on modifying architectural wood doors, hollow metal doors and aluminum storefront openings. This will eliminate those “finger-pointing” meetings arguing who’s responsible.

Know what you don’t know. Steve Seif, AHC, Project Manager, JC Ryan International, Inc., Farmingdale, N.Y., is a consultant and distributor of architectural doors, frames and finish hardware. “Whenever there are multiple trades to be coordinated, particularly when it includes electricity and components by others, a red flag must go up,” he says.

“Typically, a void exists when it comes to the oversight of the coordination. An understanding of the assembly — that is, its purpose and function — play as critical a role as the provision of power and software setup. It is especially problematic when field installers must modify fire-rated openings without knowing the applicable fire or building codes impacting the frame and door. The challenge seems to be finding the interdisciplinary that knows the potential pitfalls and can track the progress from beginning to end. To the credit of a few manufacturers, they have been rather proactive in providing some of these services to both the end user and integrator.”

Cullum adds, “Fire-rated openings, designated egress doors, accessibility doors, and other special purpose doors require special care when selecting hardware for security or access control. Knowledgeable installers are required to perform certain installations correctly so as not to adversely affect overall life safety within a building.”

He who touches the door last…. Arguably the biggest challenge is coordination and cooperation with other trades and stake holders. When it comes to the scope of work — who’s responsible?  The short answer to this is the security systems integrator, because that’s who receives the call if and when there’s an issue or failure at any point of the door.

Embrace change. Change is here and so is your opportunity.  If you embrace the changes with education, training and research, you will be in a better position to win projects, provide solutions to your customers that others don’t or won’t and position your company as an industry leader and innovator. n



For more on Security hardware and door locks, see these past articles from SDM.

“Breaking Down The Door (Hardware)”

“Capturing the Opportunities and Overcoming the Challenges of Integrated Locks”

“Electric Lock Installation Tips”

“You Own the Door”