Access control

If you want to manage and monitor who can access your business premises, read our page on access control to learn more

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Who is on your business’ premises, right now? For small business owners still using traditional keys to manage access to buildings, it may be difficult to answer this question.

Access control systems allow only authorised users to enter and exit the building, often with a simple swipe of a card or tap of a fob.

Whether you’re looking to secure one door, or multiple doors, an access control system is an efficient way to manage and monitor activity on your site.

Plus, there’s no more worrying about lost keys, or wondering how to restrict access to specific parts of the building to certain team members only.

How does an access control system work? What are some of the potential benefits? And why might your business need such a system in the first place? We’ll provide the information you need to know about this aspect of business security.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  1. What is an access control system?
  2. How to use a door access control system

You can click on the links above to be taken to that particular section. Or, for a more comprehensive understanding, you can read the whole article.

Alternatively, to compare quotes for business security now, simply complete our quick form.

1. What is an access control system?

Access control systems offer a way to protect your building and stock, as well as team members and their belongings.

Using access control systems means only people that you have authorised access can enter your building and areas of the premises. This means you can know who is coming and going, as well as when and where they are going, at all times.

Plus, access control systems act as a deterrent for would-be intruders. It’s a visible security measure that essentially means if it’s not possible to enter a property, then it’s also not possible to steal or damage it either. Security fog works on a similarly simple basis.

The systems control how people can enter and exit your business premises safely and securely. This can be done in a number of ways – for example, a system may include:

  • Doors
  • Locks
  • Gates
  • Door release buttons and keypads

The access control system locks the doors and often a card is used to unlock them. It’s possible for the doors to be unlocked from a central point if needed at certain times – if you’re moving office and need to get in and out of the building frequently, for example.

Access control systems can be used on both internal and external doors. The type and complexity of the system is likely to depend on the type of business: home-based, outdoor and office businesses will all have different requirements.

A basic keypad system offers an accessible and affordable option for simple access control requirements, such as securing one door or a main entrance.

Access can be controlled via cards and fobs, or a kit (with a pin and keypad). For more advanced access requirements, computer-based systems, digital keypads and wifi-connected devices are available.

While doors can be unlocked with access cards and fobs, wireless or biometric systems (such as those that use fingerprints or eye scans) are also available.

It’s also possible to use mobile access control systems, such as those that use IP technology and the internet to connect the system. In this instance, access could be granted via smartphone.

In addition, for increased security, it’s possible to use an access control system that has multiple factors e.g. a card and a code, instead of just one step to grant access.

How are they powered?

In addition to the mains power, an access control system can often be operated for a certain length of time via a back-up battery, in the case of a power failure.

What are the benefits?

One of the main benefits is no longer needing physical keys to access your building. This also means you don’t need to work out, and keep track of, who has which keys and what level of access they require.

Similarly there is less security risk, such as from lost or stolen keys, as well as retrieving keys from team members who leave your company.

Some of the benefits of access cards in particular are:

  • Easy and quick to activate and deactivate – especially in comparison to changing locks
  • Flexible access – limit access to certain areas or times, depending on each team member
  • Offer an affordable and accessible security solution
  • More secure system – copying physical keys can pose security risks
  • Manage lost or stolen cards efficiently – cards can be deactivated with minimal impact on the rest of the system and your business

2. How to use a door access control system

There are a number of different options available to you when choosing a door access control system.

To secure one door, it’s possible to use an access control kit. These may include a keypad, a call point and a door release button, as well as brackets and a lock and call point. This could be suitable for a front door on a shop or a small office, for example.

For more complex requirements – such as a larger premises with multiple doors or high security needs – biometric or other access control systems may be more suitable, for which you’re likely to need professional installation.

Another option is to use a door entry system, which includes a control panel and an answering phone to allow or deny access.

While this may be audio-only, it’s also possible to use a video system that allows you to see and interact with all visitor to your premises. With this type of system, it’s possible to see and talk to people at the door on camera.

This could be particularly suitable for landlords or property developers looking to monitor and control access to a block of flats, for example.

Types of access control system

  • Standalone – these are individually programmed per door and use a code, card or fob to grant access
  • Networked – the devices are connected to a PC that can receive and send controls and creates one system. Access cards, codes or fobs are also used to allow entry and exit. In addition, with this type of system, it’s possible to generate reports (to view access by time, date and location, as well as failed attempts), and to connect it to CCTV cameras and other security systems

How to install

It may be possible to install a standalone system yourself, or you may wish to hire a professional company to do it, depending on the complexity of the system and whether you’ll need to be able to scale it.

Similarly, if your business has an IT manager, you may be able to create a networked system in-house. Otherwise, your options would be to outsource this or use a security company for installation and monitoring.

Some of the services a security company is likely to offer include:

  • An initial consultation to assess your business’ specific needs
  • Professional engineers to fit the system
  • Training staff to use the system
  • Services and maintenance
  • Additional support may be available for ongoing care after installation

When thinking about access control, it’s an ideal time to consider the type of door and lock your business premises will need – read more on our security doors page.

While it’s important to assess how many doors an access control system in your business will need to cover, remember other locations on your premises may benefit from secure access too. Some examples include:

  • Lifts
  • Car parks
  • Garages

Essentially, access control systems can be used anywhere that access may need to be monitored or restricted.

If your business is based in a coworking space or serviced office, you may want to check with the provider as to what level of access control is available.

What is a visitor management system?

In addition to an access control system, you may wish to consider a visitor management system. This is a specific system designed to monitor and control access for visitors to your site – this may be suitable for any company with a lot of non-staff visitors.

This may include specific badges, stickers and cards solely designed for use by visitors, helping you to differentiate visitors from staff.

What are the next steps?

At this stage, you’ve learned more about access control systems, including the different types of products and installation methods available, as well as what the benefits for your business may be.

For more specific information related directly to your business’ needs, you can fill in our quick form to compare quotes for business security.

Written by:
Scarlett writes for the energy and HR sections of the site, as well as managing the Just Started profiles. Scarlett is passionate about championing equality and sustainability in business.
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