As a business owner, you’ll know that the security of both your staff and your property is paramount. The potential consequences of having your property or information compromised can be devastating and incredibly costly to your business.
There is a range of security measures that you can put in place, such as introducing policies of keeping certain doors locked, or physical precautions such as installing CCTV, but sometimes these policies aren’t followed or the measures don’t fit your business’s culture. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re aware of a variety of different options available for your business.
One excellent and effective option is access control. Access control is one of the most popular forms of security for businesses and there are a lot of benefits, aside from offering security, to using an access control system.
Access control is a broad term that can be used to describe a variety of systems that secure and control access to your premises. An access control system may be fitted to an external door, an internal door or even a car park barrier. A number of factors will determine how you control your system. We’ve included the main types below.
One of the most common ways companies control their systems is through a keypad. You give your staff the code for your controlled doors and they key this in to gain access. This system has some key benefits, but also some drawbacks.
- Easy to use
- No keys to lose
- Easy to provide new staff with access
- Can’t tell who has used the keypad
- Need to change codes when staff leave
Businesses or areas that have a lower security requirement and have a large number of staff that require access to the area. This could be ideal for the main building entrance or a car park.
Key Cards & Fobs
Key cards and fobs are also very commonplace in a lot of commercial settings. By using a fob or a keycard system, you can attribute each use of your system to a specific person at a specific time. This improves accountability and means that your system can be used for more than just controlling access to your premises.
- No codes to remember
- By using a card or fob and recording a time, you can keep track of attendance
- In some situations you can use a key card for additional purposes, e.g. to pay for items in a cashless canteen or, in advanced systems, log onto computers
- Easy to control access when employees leave by simply deactivating key cards and fobs
- If a fob is lost or stolen, anyone with the fob could access your premises if you aren’t alerted to deactivate it
- Can be expensive to purchase additional fobs
- Fobs and key cards can be lost, which interrupts access to the building
Businesses and organisations that wish to combine their access control systems with additional systems e.g. time tracking and cashless canteens. This may be ideal for companies such as schools or large companies that want to keep track of staff and also have flexible control over access. It also provides a quicker way to gain entry, which is beneficial when staff need to come in and out of a door frequently.
Fob & Keypad Combined
If your business has advanced security requirements you may wish to combine both the proximity fob system and the keypad system. It is possible to have a system that requires both a fob and a code to gain access to entrances. This allows you to remove some of the pitfalls of the systems as a standalone solution.
- Highly secure
- If fobs are lost or stolen you can rest assured that anyone with the fob isn’t able to access your premises without the code
- Possible to disable fobs for staff that have left and fobs that have been lost
- You will still need to change your codes regularly
- Can be expensive to purchase additional fobs
Businesses that deal with sensitive information that requires high levels of security. This solution is often more than most businesses require on a premises-wide basis, however, can be ideal for one or two high-security areas of your building e.g. accounts departments and server rooms.
The ultimate method for restricting access to your building is to use an access control system that incorporates biometric security. Biometric security includes fingerprint scanning, iris scanning and also voice recognition. By using biometric security to gain access to your premises, you remove the potential for codes to be forgotten and fobs to be lost. It also makes it incredibly difficult for anyone to gain unauthorised access to your property.
- No need to change codes
- Your eyes, fingerprints and voice are unlikely to change significantly over time, meaning you won’t need to update access frequently
- Easy to use
- Can be incorporated into other systems e.g. canteens. This is already present in some schools
- Highly secure and difficult to bypass
- Biometric security can be seen as intrusive and staff may be reluctant to use this system
- Can be expensive to implement
- If using fingerprint scanning, things such as cuts can interrupt access
- Some of the technology is new and subsequently not as reliable
Biometric security is generally more than most businesses will require. It is, however, valuable for businesses with the highest security requirements. The fact that the system doesn’t require users to memorise a code or to keep a key card or fob does mean that it can be beneficial in environments such as schools, colleges and universities.
As we’ve already highlighted in the sections above, access control is a highly-flexible method of securing your premises. If you’ve got a lot of employees it can be costly to cut keys for each of your staff. In addition, having lots of keys makes it difficult to track who has access to your premises and means that you will need to periodically change your locks and have new keys cut to ensure that your premises remain secure. This can be incredibly costly. With access control, once the system has been installed you can then update codes and grant/remove access with ease.
In addition to offering a way to easily control who has access to your property, you also have the option of incorporating additional systems into your access control. For example, you can track when staff have entered and left your building which replaces the need for time cards, you also can use key cards to implement a cashless payment system in canteens and you can even use smart cards to log on to computers.
Deciding on an access control system for your business can be a complicated process. Many businesses engage a specialist company, such as ourselves, for guidance. The first thing any company should do is complete a survey to ascertain your requirements. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to make sure that any company you work with considers the following aspects.
- How you’ll get in: As we’ve established, there is a range of options when it comes to accessing your property, such as biometric fingerprint scanners, proximity cards and numeric pads. Factors such as the number of people in the building and the budget for the system both play a part in determining which is right for you.
- How you’ll get out: Depending on your building and your needs, you may wish to have secure entry and exit through some doors, or you may wish to have a secure entry, but open exit. The difference between these systems is that in the case of secure exit and entry, you require a key fob/code to open the door from both sides, whereas in the case of secure entry only, you must use your key fob/code to enter the door, however you don’t need it to open the door once inside.
- Which lock type is most suitable: There are many different types of locks, from Solenoid shoot bolts to deadbolts. Taking into account the pros and cons of each type of lock, the company you work with should make a recommendation as to which is most suitable for your door entry system.
- What features you require: There are a lot of different options when it comes to access control systems, with considerations such as timing, tracking and battery backups. Each of these features plays a part in ensuring that your system is bespoke to you and meets your security needs. For example, using specific timing it is possible for a school to have free access through gates outside of school hours, but have them locked whilst pupils are likely to be onsite.
In conclusion, access control has a range of benefits from increased flexibility and security, right through to reliability and cost-effectiveness. It is, however, worth noting that the benefits access control has will vary from business to business. That’s why it’s important to discuss your requirements with a specialist to ensure that you have a bespoke system that meets your needs.
At Access Control Solutions we can assist with everything from the initial survey through to design, installation and maintenance. To discuss your requirements further please contact the team on 0116 236 6044.