Security is an essential consideration in facilities management. Whether it is determining protocols for locking down premises out of hours, or protecting valuable equipment and resources in a variety of locations, choosing the right lock systems are an essential part of any strategy.
You may have wondered what, from a security perspective, the main differences between and relative benefits of key-operated and keyless locks are. Here, online padlock specialist Locks Direct runs through the main advantages of opting for combination locks over keys.
Anyone who has ever lost a key will understand straight away one of the key drawbacks of key-operated locks. Having to carry around a separate item to operate the lock immediately introduces complexity and risk – lose the key and you have to contend with the time and expense of removing and replacing the entire lock.
For FM personnel, this complexity is multiplied many times over by the fact that they typically have to work with so many locks. Even if keys are not misplaced, having to carry around a giant bunch of keys is inconvenient, and no matter how clever the colour-coded systems you invent for labelling them are, you will inevitably waste time trying to find the right key to match each lock.
With combination locks, there is of course the risk of forgetting the code. But many an experienced FM professional will tell you the benefits of not having to carry around a giant key fob more than make up for this.
2. Better security
Keyholes are a point of weakness in a lock. They provide an entry point for an experienced lock breaker to insert an item into the lock mechanism so they can jimmy it open, either through careful manipulation or brute force.
By contrast, combination locks are sealed units. Although all but the toughest locks are vulnerable to brute force, a combination lock offers no direct access to the internal mechanism. Breaking the code, meanwhile, is a much more painstaking and time-consuming process than using an improvised master key.
As suggested above, the most vulnerable part of any lock is the internal mechanism. As well as providing an access point for foreign objects intended to force the lock, keyholes also allow moisture to get in, which will eventually lead to a key mechanism deteriorating through rust or perhaps being worn down through cycles of freeze and thaw in very cold weather.
Keys themselves are abrasive instruments which will eventually wear down a lock mechanism – think of all the times you have had to wriggle a key around to get it to work.
As sealed systems, combination lock mechanisms are much less likely to suffer damage caused by environmental factors, and they tend to suffer less wear and tear through use as well.
4. Distributed access
Locks are first and foremost intended to keep people out, whether you are talking about a storage cupboard, a room or an entire building. But in large commercial premises, there is often a need to provide access to certain facilities and amenities to different groups of people.
With key systems, this becomes problematic – do you provide individual keys to everyone in a group, do you put the onus on an FM operator to always be available to unlock doors, or do you simply cut back on the number of locked locations for convenience?
With keyless locks, these complications are removed. You can add multiple layers of security within, say, the section of a building occupied by a single tenant company, and provide access to all employees simply by sharing the relevant codes.
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