Access Control System Design: A single answer for two different questions


In my role as a Consultant Relations Specialist for a very large manufacturer of door opening solutions, ASSA ABLOY, I work very closely with security consultants and systems designers on a daily basis. Every few months I get what I call a “wave” of nearly identical questions from different consulting groups about unrelated projects. I used to try and find a thread of commonality connecting these requests for information to try and explain why they came at nearly the same time, but have largely determined that there is none – that’s just how it goes sometimes. Instead of just trickling in in what should be a random frequency, it’s like some unseen force holds the questions back until critical mass is accumulated and then releases them all at once.

I love getting inquiries from consultants and getting involved in their projects to help them solve their access control door hardware problems is the best part of my job.

Over the last week and a half I have received two waves of nearly identical questions. Each wave consisting of half a dozen or so similar requests. The remarkable thing, and thus the reason for this post, is that the answer to both waves of questions was one single answer.

The first, and largest of the two waves, was related to high security mortise locks with integrated door position switch, request to exit switch, deadbolt monitoring, and internal end-of-line resistors for monitoring of the circuit between the access control panel and lock. Most of these requests included words like “is there such a thing,” or “wouldn’t it be great if someone made…” These questions came mostly from designers involved in high security projects, like airports.

The second, and slightly smaller of the two waves, was related to power consumption of access control systems, specifically how to reduce it. Over the last few years I’ve seen a general trend toward more of this type of question. Building owners, and therefore architects, are very focused on how to make new buildings more sustainable. You wouldn’t think that an electrified lock would make that much of a difference, but consider what happens if you have hundreds, or even thousands, of them in the design. I see these questions coming from consultants working on commercial and mixed used buildings.

When I experience these waves of questions I can’t help but think that others in the design community must have the same question. Or, if they haven’t yet, they likely will. So here’s the answer.

The answer to both of these questions is the same thing – it is called EcoFlex™. Hopefully without sounding too much like a commercial for my employer, let me tell you about EcoFlex.

But, before I do – the legalese. I, in no way, am authorized to speak for or represent ASSA ABLOY in this forum, nor am I attempting to do so. This post solely contains my opinions and not those of my employer. There, we’re all protected.

EcoFlex was originally designed, a few years back, to meet the demand for a more sustainable electrified locking solution. EcoFlex electrified mortise locks reduce energy consumption up to 96% compared to standard electrified mortise locks, as certified by GreenCircle. That is no small thing. With this dramatic reduction in energy consumption, drawing less than 1/4 watt at 12V, Ecoflex offers the flexibility to consolidate power supplies and reduce operating costs. EcoFlex offers an adaptable, reliable solution with an ANSI/BHMA Grade 1 mortise lock that can be used for 12V or 24V applications and can be easily field-configured for fail-safe or fail-secure operation.

Pretty cool, huh?

Then just a couple of years ago, in an effort to add more innovation to the product (they’re pretty obsessed with being innovative) they added high security features in what is called the EcoFlex NAC Series mortise locks. Every NAC lock is shipped with a door position switch and request to exit monitoring installed. NAC locks ordered with deadbolts are supplied with deadbolt monitoring. There is even a deadbolt privacy function that disables remote access control unlocking (such as a keypad) or scheduled unlock when the deadbolt is engaged.

If in your consulting practice you work on access control systems design – send me a LinkedIn message. We should talk. I would love to roll my sleeves up and get involved in your projects. I always tell people that I have the best job in the world. All I have to do is go around helping consultants solve their door hardware problems – what could be better?

Steven Bowcut, CPP, PSP