Keys and Master Key Systems

Integrity Master Key Systems

INTEGRITY  is a market leader in the field of key systems, from consultation and design through to manufacture, installation, commissioning and system management training.

What is:

A Key System

Key systems can take many forms and functions, from a simple keyed alike key system where all household locks can be operated by just 1 or 2 keys to elaborate electro-mechanical security key systems where multiple levels of access may exist. These include time zones, dual access function and audit trail capabilities.

A Keyed Alike Key System

A keyed alike key system is one where all locks operate using the same key. A common example often requested is for the one key to access your households screen door, main door lockset, deadlocks and all other door locks in the house plus including the padlocks to the side gate and shed. Another common example is for all window locks to be operated with a single key irrespective of the style of window.

A Master Key System

A master keyed system can take a number of different forms. Predominantly a master key in a system can open a number of locks which have their own individual keys. This can extend to many levels. An example of this would be an office building tenanted by a company with a number of individually occupied offices. Each of these offices can have its own key which only accesses their respective office. The master key would then have access to all of these offices and generally be held by the head of the company, security and/or the cleaner. This design could be expanded to a multi-level building where a grand master key provides access to all doors and a level master key is created for each level which only accesses doors on its respective level.

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A Registered and/or Restricted Key Systems

Registered and/or restricted key systems are available in a number of different forms and security levels. Generally systems of this type are utilised for securing and controlling access in government, commercial and institutional applications, and for anyone wishing to have control over the quantity and issue of keys.

Registered Key System; A registered key system is one in which there is a design registration covering part of the key system, usually the keys profile. Another form of a registered key system is one in which a registered patent covers part or all of the design of a system. A system with a patent is generally of higher quality than its counterparts. A registered system provides control to the owner by restricting the availability of all keys to only those nominated to order keys. This could be a multi-level arrangement where certain personnel within an organisation are permitted to order only specific keys within a system, or higher level keys may require more than one person to authorise additional keys. In all these cases, the originating business of the key system would register the system to the owner of the hardware and keep detailed records of all associated hardware, keys and the personnel authorised to order additional keys.

Restricted Key System; A ‘restricted key system’ is a term that could possibly be misleading or cause confusion. Often this term is used to describe a registered key system. A restricted key system could simply be a system that is restricted in its distribution and not necessarily provide a higher degree of control or security over the keys. A registered or patented system is however restricted by nature.

An example would be where a system is no longer covered by a patent or design registration but for security and ethical reasons the distribution is still restricted typically under a formal agreement.

Tip: For key control always choose a patented or registered design key system.

Security Levels of Key Systems

Key systems are available with many varying and different security features, from the basic pin tumbler system commonly used on front door deadlocks to high security pick proof, bump proof, pull and drill resistant mechanisms. As a rule the more expensive the system the more benefits and features you are likely to receive.

Electronic & Electro-Mechanical Keys

This section looks at some of the latest technology available on the market today, Electro-Mechanical Keys for access control without the need to run wires to every door or access point.

Technology in this sector of the market is fairly new outside of the automotive market. Never the less there are a few competitors offering the ability to control access both electronically and mechanically in the same mechanism (electro-mechanical) and others controlling locking electronically without the requirement to run wires to each point. The options available vary in their capabilities with each offering some unique solutions.

The one element that makes these mechanisms an R&D department nightmare is the requirement for power and the desire to maximise the life of the battery so as to minimise maintenance resources. Further on you will find solutions utilising powered keys to activate the locks and provide read & write capabilities for audit trails and validation, while others power the lock to provide much the same capabilities with a few additional features such as a time programmable unlock mode to automatically unlock and lock doors at preset times.

 

With each of the above options comes a requirement for management and maintenance of the power source. With a battery in the key, the onus is on the key holder to ensure the battery is replaced when it indicates it is getting low. With the powered lock option a management plan must be followed to ensure batteries are replaced before they run flat and cause unnecessary frustration, with the addition of training users to report any premature indication of a low battery state.

Where these solutions are flexible and convenient, they do not provide the same degree of control and monitoring capabilities as a full blown access control system where every point is online and constantly monitored. On the other hand, an online system is not capable of supporting a padlock on a remote gate or mobile situations, and often to costly for temporary situations. Or the ability to provide access control solutions which utilise integrated mechanical mechanisms in the one system for cost savings on those not so critical access points. Then there is always a hybrid solution that adopts combinations of some of the above features to provide both an online and remote solution in one.