The rise of electronics in a mechanical world of access control

The rise of electronics in a mechanical world of access control
As electronic technology makes inroads into all kinds of devices that were purely mechanical until recently, possibilities of innovative and effective solutions have opened up.

In the access control industry, the situation is not any different. There is a clear trend of integrating mechanical and electronic locks that can result in more secure and intelligent systems. But does this mean that electronics will someday replace the mechanical side? Perhaps not. At least, not in the foreseeable future, according to Stefan Ehrlich-Adám, MD and CEO of the Austrian company EVVA.

“We have been specializing on the mechanical side of the business for many years but for the last 25 years or so, the trend has been a move toward electronics,” Ehrlich-Adám said. “Now we say the interesting part is how to combine mechanics and electronics in a creative and intelligent way. We are a project-based company. This means it is important for us that we see a building as a whole project, to see where we can place mechanical products and where we need to place electronic products. We have seen electronics becoming more and more important in the last 25 years, but it will never replace mechanics 100 percent, at least not for the next several years.”
Stefan Ehrlich-Adám,

However, he is quick to point out that the share of electronic technology in the industry is steadily rising. Almost 50 percent of the projects done these days would involve some electronic component or the other. Verticals such as the residential sector continue to provide importance to mechanical products whereas the commercial sector has opened up to the possibilities of electronics. Sectors such as healthcare and critical infrastructure, which have their own unique requirements, appear to be more interested in the electronic systems.

Keeping such developments in perspective, EVVA, for about four years, has been developing their own electronic access control platform. This could be a significant move as unified platforms are going to be a popular product for customers in the future.

Speaking further on future trends, Ehrlich-Adám also indicated that mobile technology could play a key role in access control systems in the coming years. A major challenge, however, to all this, is the question of how affordable these solutions can be for the consumer and whether the returns justify the investment. Costs are, after all, a single major deciding factor on many occasions.

“The prices will go down as time goes by, but the question is whether we will be able to lower the price to such a level that it is really an alternative to mechanical systems,” Ehrlich-Adám said. “At present, it is not because you can buy good quality mechanical systems at a good price whereas electronics is still not that affordable to many.”

Ultimately, the crucial role a developer and the systems integrators involved in a project needs to play is understanding the requirements that are present. Not all locks may need to be electronic and not all should be mechanical. The key is to decide what is required and where, based on the nature of the site.
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