Special: Smart locker management with electronic locks
When speaking about access control, we often refer to buildings and doors. But inside those buildings are often lockers that store professional and personal belongings and there often are cabinets and archives that store files and other assets. These lockers and cabinets often are still locked using regular locks with keys. Suppliers of electronic locks will highlight that this traditional setup will not allow for centralized administration and monitoring of the storage spaces. Keys get lost. Things are left behind in lockers. Leaving the admins of the system with headaches and trouble. Basically the business case for smart locker management with electronic locks is similar to that of access control systems: Using electronic locks and identifiers will allow you to effectively manage access rights, enable authorized users to get easy access, easily monitor system events and make more efficient use of locker capacity. Which suppliers are available in the industry today to service your organisation with smart locker management solutions?
Types of locker management solution
Before we look at potential suppliers, it makes sense to first come to terms on a basic categorization of locker management solutions. In this article we only speak about the locker management solution, not about the physical locker cabinets. In essence there are three supported topologies for locker management solutions:
- Traditional standalone mechanical locks
These locks do not use power, are usually cheap and come in many different shapes (padlocks, cilinders, etc.). They are usually opened using a key or a fixed PIN-code. A master-key must be applied when keys or pins get lost.
- Battery operated electronic locks
These locks are mostly easily (retro-)fitted in the doors of cabinets. Users can get access uses cards, keyfobs, phones, PIN-codes or biometrics. The access right is either stored on the RFID-tag or it is stored inside the lock. The lock usually operates stand-alone, which means that a reset will have to be carried physically per lock and events are only available locally. Batteries will need to replaced at a specific frequency.
Some locks use network-on-card principles and some have wireless communication capabilities to overcome some of the downsides of standalone operation and support some of the feature of the next category.
- Cabled locker management systems
These systems usually consist of centralized administration software, a number of terminals and a cabled electronic lock, sometimes individually equipped with RFID-readers or other identification technology. Procuring and installing the system usually is requiring more resources when compared to battery operated locks. But in return you may benefit from the centralized realtime administration and event monitoring capability. User management, access management, intrusion detection, configuration changes and data-collection are now available. And these systems mostly are fairly easy to integrate with access control systems, so that building access and locker access can be managed in a unified way.
Of course combinations and variations of these categories exist. Electronic locker locks are deployed in many types of applications. You will find them in saunas, swimming pools and other leisure facilities. Visitors of events and concerts usually are able to store their personal belongings in lockers. Employees of hospitals and other healthcare institutions can usually store their personal clothes and belongings in lockers when they change into their uniforms. Universities and schools allow students to store their belongings before they get into class or the library. And organisations that support concepts like “agile working”, “new ways to work” and “hot desking” nowadays offer their staff storage facilities to store their belongings when they are not at a flexible work desk.
Besides offering more effective and efficient management and administration, electronic locks also enable functionality which is beyond reach of the traditional mechanical locks. The most important one probably is the ability to have users share storage space. Users are now able to claim a locker and release it for use by another person when they are done.
To help you on your way in finding a potential locker supplier we are listing a number of vendors with a track record in this segment. Make sure to check out their websites and documentation and speak to them about your specific requirements (number refers to category mentioned above):
Gantner – Austria (3)
Gantner is an Austrian manufacturer that has been active in locker management a long time. In their portfolio you will find access control and locker management solutions, which can be tightly integrated. They mostly offer a cabled solution and their locks are equipped with RFID readers. Their equipment has proven to withstand the difficult conditions in areas like swimming pools. Gantner has a great deal of experience in deploying their solution in a variety of applications across most continents.
Gallagher – New Zealand (3)
Gallagher is a major global access control manufacturer from New Zealand, that employs more than 1000 people across six continents and exports to over 160 countries. Gallagher’s integrated Locker Management Solution allows a site to manage locker access, automate allocation and ensure the best utilization of their locker resources, all from within Gallagher’s access control solution. Flexible allocation times and a dynamic locker viewer combine to support agile locker deployments.
Vecos – The Netherlands (3)
This company in the Netherlands is considered one of the most active and innovative rising stars in the industry. Many international corporates have selected them as their supplier of choice to support new ways of working. The management software of their cabled platform can be installed on-premise but also as a cloud based service. The self-service locker operation is considered user-friendly with smartphones, PIN codes or (RFID) cards. Opening, switching and releasing lockers: it is all done automatically. In the process, the system immediately informs the user via a push notification about system related events.
Nedap – Netherlands (3)
Dutch electronics manufacturer Nedap has been at the forefront of this industry category for over two decades. They were one of the first to integrate a RFID reader inside every lock of their cabled locker management solution. A few years ago Nedap decided to fully integrate their locker management solution into its enterprise access control system AEOS and focus on corporate applications. In AEOS, people can operate locker doors with the same badge that they use to access the building. So, even if you have a high flow of people, you can use your lockers in a very flexible way.
Metra – Slovenia (3)
Metra is a well-known name in the industry and their cabled locker management platform is used throughout Europe. Their product is often sold through their network of locker manufacturers. The Metra electronic locking system enables smart storage lockers for variety of implementations. The heart of each solution is a patented, highly reliable (motor driven) Metra smart lock, suitable for various, also more challenging environments. Metra can integrate any type of RFID or Bluetooth reader into their locker terminal.
Smartalock – New Zealand (3)
Smartalock is made by Agile Workspace Limited, a collaboration between experienced custom furniture manufacturers and successful Application / Hardware developers from New Zealand. Their cabled solution offers a rich feature set. Examples: Their app supports finding an empty locker. Their locks have a USB power outlet built in, so that users can charge their phones while storing them. And their software allows for extended data analytics, including detailed information about locker usage.
Assa Abloy Wireless Cabinet Locks – Sweden / USA (2)
Swedish security enterprise Assa Abloy is home of many well-known brands. Their battery operated HES and Securitron Cabinet Locks can be used on server cabinets to employee lockers and other supply and storage cabinets. The HES K100 cabinet lock is equipped aith Aperio Wireless Communication. The lock comes standard with locked state & tamper monitoring, optional mechanical key override and over 150 lbs of holding force. The HES K100 supports most common types of credentials and it uses local wireless communication between the lock and an Aperio hub to bring access control to cabinet doors and drawers where audit trail and real-time monitoring are required.
TESA (Assa Abloy) – Spain (2)
TESA is a leading Spanish manufacturer and supplier of locking solutions and access control technology for the residential and institutional markets. It exports to all continents and it is part of the Assa Abloy family. The TESA SMARTair® Cabinet Lock with integrated RFID reader is built for healthcare facilities, student dorms and anywhere else robust lockers are required. It integrates seamlessly with a TESA SMARTair access control platform. SMARTair cabinet locks secure lockers, drawers, cupboards and cabinets. This lock is an integrated access control lock and reader with LED (green/red signal). All control elements, including the batteries, are on the inside, for greater security and protection against vandalism. The system can run stand-alone, offline and “update on card” management systems.
Ojmar – Spain (2)
Spanish locking specialist Ojmar has been in business since more than 90 years. They offer a wide portfolio of products centered around locking and opening lockers. Traditionally Ojmar specializes in battery operated stand-alone operating locks with RFID reader or keypad. Their NEXO NLX1 is a wireless locking system for lockers based on WIFI. It supports all functionality expected from an online cabled system and addition can run in standa-alone mode when the connectiomn with the server is lost. A handheld terminal with NFC communication is used for programming locks.
Salto -Spain (2)
Spanish company Salto is worldwide known for its battery operated locks that can run stand-alone or the “Salto Virtual Network” (SVN, a network-on-card concept). Their XS4 Locker provides high level security to a wide range of lockers, cupboards, cabinets, boxes, etc. by integrating it into the SALTO wire-free electronic access solution. It features an ergonomically designed twist operated locking handle that makes for easy use, even with wet hands. The battery pack, electronic components and locking mechanism are all located on the inside of the door, safe from potential vandalism or sabotage.
Master Lock – USA (2)
Master Lock, founded in 1921, is recognized around the world as the authentic, enduring name in padlocks and security products. Master Lock offers, besides traditional mechanical locks and padlocks, battery operated electronic locks. Their electonic platform includes a “Electronic Built-In Locker Lock”, an ADA-Compliant Electronic Built-In Locker Lock with support of Bluetooth fobs as an idemntifier and an “Administration Key for Electronic Built-In Locker Locks” which is used by admins to open abandoned locks and reset their configuration.
Digilock – USA (2)
Digilock is recognized as a global leader in the design and manufacturing of high-quality electronic locker, cabinet and furniture locks. Their battery operated locks support use of RFID and PIN-codes. They offer a wide array of locks that can be used to support all kinds of applications. Their Aspire locks have an option to program and manage the locks through a mobile device. The mobile app allows simplified programming, management, and audit trail.
LoQit – The Netherlands (3):
LoQit is a sister-company of Dutch locker manufacturer Sonesto. LoQit is an innovative electronic locking system for storage furniture and was designed to support flexibility regarding how the locks are operated, opened and how reports are generated. The platform is web-based and can be operated from any location. The platform consists of locks with an effiecient cable connection to a central Terminal. The terminal can be modular expanded to support PIN-code, RFID, Bluetooth or fingerprints.
Locktec – Germany (3)
The origin of LockTec GmbH is Scottich, but since 1997 LockTec headquarters are based in German Weissenbrunn. Locktec considers itself to be the original inventor of patented lockers for the delivery of goods. This solution was introduced in 1997 and since then Locktec has been electronic locker supplier for post and courier services worldwide. One or more electronic locker systems can be connected worldwide via a network to a centralized management server. As a result the keyless lockers Locksafe offer centralized control as well as monitoring of the systems round the clock.
Ubilock – The Netherlands (3)
Ubilock is an electronic locking system that is placed in lockers and closets. Works for both right and left closing doors. Ubilock knows various types of opening your locker. The door can be opened automatically (pop open), push the door to open (PTO) or hold open. Opening and closing lockers is supported at the terminal with NFC (smartphone), RFID (badge or card), biometrics (fingerprint / iris scan), QR code or PIN-code.
Locking into a bright future
Locker management is more and more considered to be an integral part of an serious enterprise access control system. More and more organisations choose to equip lockers and cabinets with electronic locks and expect that access to these locked compartments is managed from the access control system. The list of suppliers here illustrates that all modern platform support a variety of identification technologies and that most of them also support integration with third party management systems.
When selecting a system for your organisation make sure to check the functionality and electronic features, But do not forget to also check the mechanical aspects of the solution. Designing and developing a robust, secure and well-working locker lock requires engineering skills and experience.
We are curious to hear about your experience with locker management solutions. Let us know!