Purchasing an access control system for your business is like any other major business purchase. Take the time to ask a lot of questions when choosing an access control vendor. My rule of thumb is to find a vendor large enough to provide stable and timely customer support yet small enough to be responsive to your individual needs. Look for a vendor who provides the flexibility to adjust to your specific requirements.
A good vendor will ask you questions as well. The best approach is to talk through the project and discuss the specifications and requirements to help find the solution that is right for your business. A good vendor will not always need to see your facility, but they may ask you to send digital photos of specific entry points. Most vendors work with a range of customers. It’s important to find one that has experience in your industry. Also, some vendors primarily handle residential systems. However, for your business you need commercial-grade access control. Today, many manufacturers produce residential versions. These systems are good for home use, however, they were not designed to handle the volume of use of a chimerical system. Look for a vendor who sells and supports multiple brands of hardware and software. Access control hardware is fairly standardized and most are open source architectural and will work with most controllers.
Arriving at good estimates for an access control system is project specific. Most vendors will want to talk through your project and requirements before providing an estimate. However, as a general rule of thumb, a complete single-door card-based or keypad based system is typically installed for $1,500 to $2,500. The more doors in the project, the lower the per door costs. This includes everything, hardware, software and installation. Installing the system yourself can reduce to the price to $750 to $1,500 per door.
Find a vendor who offers basic email and telephone support. Most better vendors provide lifetime support for their products. Also, many dealers will also offer extended warranties. However, access control components are relatively simple, have few moving parts and they tend not to break down. As such, the manufacturers’ warranty is often sufficient.
A couple a additional comments to consider.
During the project design and installation phases, your your building management in the loop. You may require there approval for certain types of installation.
All Locking hardware (locks) are either classified as ‘fail secure” or fail safe”. Your own security requirements and local regulations will dictate which type of lock you choose. Fail secure locks simply mean that when power is removed (power failure), the lock remains locked (secure) from the outside. Fail safe locks mean that if power is removed, the lock opens from the outside. Both types of locks must open from the inside in the event of a power failure.
You can reuse most hardware. The Access control community has got this right. Locks, sensors, card readers and keypads are fairly interchangeable between access control system. As a result, you can continue to add-on and upgrade existing equipment without the need to replace the controller and software as you grow and change.
Think though your design. Securing every door in your facility could be more frustrating than helpful to your security. No need to over buy. Focus your access control points on the perimeter of the building. It is fair to continue to use simple key locks for non-sensitive doors.
Jordan Thomas has been designing and manufacturing access control systems for over 20 years. To visit a platinum distributor of Mr. Thomas’ access control products visit www.Maglocks.com or call toll free (866) 500 – 5625 for more information.