In this day and age, the term “single-door access control” is nearly a misnomer. Most products have advanced to the point where they are easily integrated or interfaced with additional controllers, expanding in a network configuration.

Still, you’ll sometimes want one compact but powerful package for your customer, and that’s when you’ll want stand-alone access control. Single-door or stand-alone access control is best described as a device with its own dedicated controller or power supply and internal intelligence. Best of all, when a customer needs more security, most devices link with additional access control readers.

Stand-alone locks and controls often have their own microprocessor or built-in “smarts.” With these types of systems, the lock carries the intelligence and enables the enrollment of users without the need for a computer, software or even programming modules. Many systems can be networked, so adding doors is easy. With so many built-in programming options, microprocessor technology and logical control functions, it’s easier to install access control. It’s definitely not “set it and forget it,” but is as intuitive as many of the other security products on the market now.

Keypads and readers

In access control, there are keypads or card readers that include magnetic stripe, proximity, Wiegand and bar code. Proximity technology, which was an ultra-expensive security solution years ago, has dropped dramatically in price, fostering an ever-growing legion of new users.

In fact, proximity is following closely on the heels of magnetic stripe in overall use, according to Deepak Shetty, industry analyst, Auto ID/Security Group, Frost & Sullivan, San Jose, Calif.

According to Frost & Sullivan’s recent study, The U.S. Electronic Access Control Systems Market, magnetic stripe is still the leader, but not by a large margin. The reason, Shetty said, is that “magnetic stripe already has an established installation base.”

In access control products and systems, innovation is a given. In locations where drilling in concrete or digging trenches may not be possible, now wireless access control can step in. Stronger signals and the ability to transmit a host of essential data quickly and securely are additional pluses for wireless access control.

Wireless access can handle single-door applications and it can also be used for a host of other tasks, including control of remote gates and elevators.

One of the original wireless manufacturers in the security industry, Linear Corp., Carlsbad, Calif., continues to update and refine its radio-based products. Designed specifically for sites with a single entrance or gate, the AP-3 from Linear has a built-in radio receiver and a 250-foot range that can be extended with an optional antenna. It is designed to remotely activate devices such as gate operators, door strikes or door operators.

Another company taking advantage of newfound reliability and signal strength in wireless is Recognition Source, LLC, St. Charles, Ill. The Wyreless Access System uses the 900 MHz spread-spectrum radio frequency to communicate signals and incorporates the reader, lock, power supply and an optional request-to-exit feature into a single unit. Access control can be installed at any door in less than two hours and the system can interface with any access control panel. A patented advanced linking capability provides the flexibility to address additional remote locations with a wireless reader interface.

Wireless access control offers the ability to install a system in substantially less than half the time it takes to install a traditional hardwired system for a single door. But traditional hardwired systems, too, have advanced and are more intuitive than ever, in a smaller package and with added ease of installation to boot. Just a few of the other companies in the industry offering single-door access control include: Casi-Rusco, Boca Raton, Fla.; Cardkey Systems, Simi Valley, Calif.; Corby Industries, Allentown, Pa.; and Secura Key, Chatsworth, Calif.

Potential applications for single-door access control include:

• A computer room with confidential documents or other information in a relatively small building that needs tighter controls.

• A remote building or seldom-used business location.

• An open warehouse or dock that needs to keep hazardous materials or chemicals safely contained.

• Daycare centers, college campuses and dormitories.

• Storerooms with stock or other valuables—even meat and seafood refrigeration units.

• Any and all areas that need restricted access, such as employee restrooms and break rooms.

Access control gives the customer the ability to control who comes and goes. It also provides an audit trail or record of card activity by users, limits access to restricted areas and even provides the ability to deactivate cards remotely when necessary. There are scores of possibilities as far as applications. Remember to think of security. Think about all of the things your existing customer has at its facility and what areas might need access control or any security, for that matter. EC

O’MARA is the president of DLO Communications Inc., in Park Ridge, Ill., and may be reached at 847.384.1916 or domara@flash.net.