SimonsVoss secures Senckenberg Museum: a trip to the future

SimonsVoss secures Senckenberg Museum: a trip to the future
A visit to the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt am Main offers a multitude of attractions. In 2008, the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung (Senckenberg Nature Research Society, SGN), which owns the museum and the neighbouring research institute, took a trip into the future – with digital locking technology from its security partner SimonsVoss.

It’s an extremely interesting location for visitors and researchers alike – but it poses a monumental task for security professionals. It’s their job to protect the areas of the museum accessible to the public, the research facilities and the offices as best they can using modern locking and access control technology, not only in the interests of the approximately 500 staff members working on-site, but for visitors too. Break-ins, theft, vandalism, fire – we’re all familiar with the potential hazards people and exhibits in museums are exposed to.

Consigning classic systems to the past
In his role as Senckenberg’s technical coordinator with duties including responsibility for building and security technology, Alexander Häberlein has complete peace of mind as he works with a digital locking system. That wasn’t always the case. 2008 brought with it a number of reasons to question the old concept. Häberlein explained, “Insufficient flexibility was a major issue. Another problem was that documentation was becoming increasingly difficult. Moves to other buildings or losing master keys were making life increasingly difficult for us. We were investing enormous amounts of time and money.” Something had to change – hardly surprising, given that the premises currently have 2,000 doors. The company wanted an autarkic system with the latest technology, and convenient software allowing several buildings to be managed in a future-proof manner. When it came to choosing a provider, Senckenberg took a pragmatic approach. “We contacted all of the established market providers, invited some of them to give a presentation and then tested a few systems in practice. We whittled them down to just one provider – SimonsVoss.”

The key to the future
The Munich-based company, is a provider in digital, battery-powered locking systems with integrated access control. According to Häberlein, it came up trump, “SimonsVoss brought a wealth of diversity and experience to the table. We were also impressed with the sophisticated technology, energy-efficient electronics and outstanding software.” At the heart of the system lies active transponder technology, which replaces conventional correspondence between cylinders and keys. A single radio-based transponder is capable of opening up to 48,000 doors, gates, lifts, cupboards and even cabinets.

“A single system that satisfied all our requirements was exactly what we were looking for. Another benefit was the locking cylinders’ extremely long battery service lives – 300,000 actuations per battery. No other candidate could offer that,” says Häberlein. The transponder also proved to be energy-efficient. Its high-performance battery doesn’t need to be changed for around ten years or around one million actions. Not only that: “With a reading range of 0.5 to 1.5 meters, SimonsVoss clearly outstripped other suppliers,” added the security expert.

Jumping into modern times
Another benefit of the all-in-one digital technology is the locking system management software from SimonsVoss. It’s the central control panel for access, monitoring, documentation, alarms and much more. A real challenge for the Frankfurt-based company, however, was creating the digital locking plan. The technical partner was always on hand to provide Senckenberg with support, even when it came to tactically briefing the users. The new technology was presented in detail in November 2009 at a large information event on the company’s premises; the transponders were issued straight after.

An impressive voyage of discovery
Senckenberg now uses a kind of mixed system. “Outside doors and frequently used doors are now operated with the transponder, while conventional keys are used for office doors like before.” At present, over 600 users – as a general rule, every member of staff with a contract – have their own transponder. Guest and replacement transponders with time restrictions are also in circulation. The digital keys are only issued to external companies who have signed for them. In most cases, this is just for one day.


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