Access Control Buyers Guide Need an Access Control System to protect your business premises?

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Access Control

Buyers Guide

Need an Access Control System to protect

your business premises?



Welcome to this essential guide

Hello and thank you for downloading this essential guide to Access Control

Systems. We know from our experience how choosing the correct Access

Control System for your organisation can be a bit of a minefield, from

assessing why you need one, to which type of system is required and

choosing a reliable company to fit it. But with the right guidance, coupled

with a reliable competent company that provides excellent service, the

whole process can be made a lot easier and less time consuming than you


Which is exactly why we created this FREE guide.

This guide will give you the best advice and help you to gain the essential

knowledge required in order to choose the right system and the right

company. This will help you avoid any expensive mistakes, saving you time

and money which you can spend on your own business. At Assured Fire and

Security we want to make sure you can take your next steps with confidence.

That’s why our guide has been created with the benefit of many years of

experience and valuable industry knowledge and it only contains factual

information so you can make your own independent informed choice and

avoid those costly mistakes. And of course should you have any further

questions, or require specific guidance in any area of fire safety or security

please call our friendly team on

0845 402 3045

or email us at

and we will be happy to help you.


12 critical things you must know about Access Control Systems in order to avoid expensive

mistakes and ensure you are protecting your business premises correctly!

Where do I start?

So you are considering investing in a Access Control System to protect your business premises, but how do you

know which system to choose?

There are many systems out there, all that fit a different need. So how do you choose the right one and what

factors do you need to consider?

First of all you should ask yourself the following questions :


What do I want out of an Access Control System?


What type of system do I need?


What influences the type of system I need?


Do I have to comply with any British Standards and

regulations ?


How do I choose the best company?


What do I need to do once the system is fitted?

It is also important to understand that Access Control is not a solution to all your security concerns, but should be

part of an overall security solution.

In this comprehensive guide we will show you:

How to know which system you need

How to get the correct quote

The importance of choosing the right company

The importance of proving competence

The different types of Access Control Systems available

The British Standards that apply

Handover and certification requirements

Your responsibilities

Maintenance information

The importance of warranties for your new system

Why ongoing support is vital




Basic Security Protection

You need to determine why you need a system. Is it an insurance requirement? Maybe your business is in a high risk area or your type of business means you are at greater risk of unauthorised entries. Or maybe you need to monitor entry and exit times of staff.

The main thing before you set off getting quotes is to determine why you need an Access Control System and if so what type. This will help in making sure you get the correct system installed suited to your business needs.

Installing an Access Control System has a number of benefits:

1 - You never have to change a lock again or worry about keys being copied when staff leave the business.

2 - You don’t need to worry about the main entrance to your property being open all day.

3 - You can control which areas of the site different staff members have access to.

4 - Protocols can be set to open certain doors during set periods.

5 - Fire registers can be quickly generated in the event of evacuation.


Legislation Compliance

All companies in the UK who hold data on individuals must comply with the Data Protection Act and the Human Rights Act. Data will be held on computers regarding who is set up to use the Access Control System, and the staff managing this must comply with the Data Protection Act. More guidance on information security can be found on the Information Commissioner’s Office website here:

More information on the Human Rights Act can be found

here: contents


Where Do I Begin?

Once you’ve decided why you need an Access Control System you then need to assess which areas you wish to have covered. This will then identify exactly where access control panels should be sited in order to provide the best security coverage. It is beneficial to have your site surveyed

professionally by an Access Control Systems expert. They will consider your requirements and produce a plan of exactly where you should install Access Control Systems to fit your specifications.

You will need to take into consideration what you want the system to achieve and then you can be advised on the best way of achieving your aims.


How Do I Choose The

Right Company?

Selecting the right company to design, install and maintain your Access Control System is an

extremely important decision and one that should not be taken lightly. Having an Access Control System fitted to your building can be a major task, due to wiring, drilling and access required. If not carried out correctly this can cause a major inconvenience to your organisation.

Therefore, choosing the right Access Control System company can make the whole process go smoothly, efficiently and with the least amount of disruption to your business.

However, making the wrong choice could mean you waste thousands of pounds on the wrong system and/or end up with bad workmanship, delays and interruption of your


business. Worse still, you are at risk from security breaches while you are unprotected.

So, how do you decide on which company to appoint to install your Access Control System?

Here are some very important considerations you should make before deciding on your choice:

A) Can they prove their competence?

Anyone can say they are competent but the only way to ensure you are employing a competent company is by using someone who is part of a registered inspectorate scheme such as the “Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board” (SSAIB). SSAIB, under their Code of Practice SS2003, will inspect a registered company to ensure they are installing and maintaining Access Control Systems to a recognised standard. They also check a number of other requirements such as insurance, quality control, performance to codes of practice and much more.

If you choose an SSAIB accredited company you can be sure of their competence in the installation of Access Control Systems. In addition you can also complain to SSAIB who will

C) Do they provide Case Studies of work completed?

As with testimonials any security systems contractor worth their salt will have case studies of jobs where they have carried out prestigious and complex work or jobs they are proud to have installed to the customers satisfaction.

D) Do they employ all their own staff and are they trained?

Some companies are not what they seem. Sometimes it may just be the surveyor that works for the company and the work itself is sub-contracted. It is essential to ensure the whole process is surveyed, installed and managed by the security systems company with their own staff.

This will ensure you get the very best service and that it is not farmed out to the cheapest sub-contractor at that time. As the saying goes “he who pays least ends up paying the


Ask if the surveyor and engineers are correctly trained in security systems engineering. Many companies now profess to be an expert but can they prove this by being members of SSAIB or displaying their certificates of training?

E) Do they carry the right level of insurance?

In the unfortunate event of an accident occurring during the installation process you want to ensure there are no repercussions for you as a business and that any accident, injury or damage will be covered by the appropriate insurance policy.


6 see this information by way of their certificate.

F) Do they provide a warranty?

The single most important question to ask yourself is “what will happen if something goes wrong after my system has been fitted?”

Once your system has been fitted you want to ensure someone is there to guarantee its operation for at least the next 12 months if not more. Any professional security systems company will

guarantee their work for a minimum of 12 months so it is

essential you ask this question and get it in writing.

G) Do they provide a list of people in the organisation?

You need to know who you are dealing with when you place your order, especially if something goes wrong! A quality company who is fully transparent in their dealings with you will provide all details including contact numbers of the key people in that organisation - from your Installation Manager to your Service Co-ordinator, right up to the Managing Director.

You may never need to know all these people at the

beginning of your relationship but it is essential to know you have a team of real people who are waiting there to help.

H) Can they support your system?

Imagine it’s the end of a working day and your Access Control System has stopped working. Who is going to fix your system out of usual business hours? Can you rely on your security systems company at all times 365/24/7? The last thing you need is to wait hours on end for someone to attend to your needs (or not even turn up) right when you need them the most.

A lot of companies may want to fit your Access Control System but you need to check they have the back-up to provide support for your system when you need it.

Ask your company if they provide this service and if they are willing to sign a contract to provide support services such as call out, technical support and preventative maintenance. Anyone not willing to provide this service may want to make a fast buck and run.

Make sure it’s not with you!


Types of Access Control


There are three different types of Access Control Systems which operate differently and provide different benefits.


A standalone system is the simplest, most cost effective way of controlling access to entrances you wish to. All the equipment required is local to the door and entry is gained through valid proximity/code presentation. We recommend standalone systems are used when only 1 or 2 doors require securing. All programming of the door shall be local to the door through the access control equipment.


A networked system can be provided where all the locally controlled doors are wired together to provide a commutation path between all doors and a PC running the relevant software required for your Access Control product. The system is able then to be programmed from the PC with all information downloaded to each individual door as required. The PC software also enables reports to be created based upon system usage. A networked system can be provided in an analogue hard worked network or provided on a IP Cat5/6 network.


Door entry systems are provided to enable entry to visitors who can’t gain access through the Access Control System. An entry panel is installed externally of the required entrance which will enable a visitor to press a button or select an option to call. A handset within the building enables communication to take place so a decision on allowing ingress can be made.


Additional Extras


Turnstiles are provided either at external site entrances to control access to a site or with open building lobbies to control access to the lifts/stairs etc. that would allow free access to a building. Turnstiles can be controlled by access control entry options or by push buttons that could be


controlled via a security desk or similar.


Vehicle entry can be controlled to site entrances or restricted areas via a number of systems able to prevent access. This can be supplied via a vehicle barrier (including skirt if required), bollards, gates or road blocker. These systems can be operated via the access control and door entry system.


A proximity reader is a contactless smart card with the need to touch the proximity reading device. The reader can be either one side of the door and termed ‘Read In’ or have a reader both sides of the door and termed ‘Read In/Out’. The proximity cards or fobs contain part of the

contactless technology and when held near a proximity reader will either beep with a green LED notification of entry acceptance or beep with a red LED notification of entry denied. Proximity readers can be supplied in varying designs, internal or external grade, for vehicles and with varying read ranges.


A keypad allows you to enter a pre-determined code into the keypad to allow entry. The keypad can also be combined with a proximity reader for additional security, requiring both code and card/fob to allow entry.


Biometric readers offer further

advancement and security by being able to read fingerprints, palms and iris


Exit PIRS are installed on the secure side of the door and allow contactless egress by detecting a presence underneath the PIR which in turn disengages the access control lock to allow egress. Thought is required to the location of these to ensure general office traffic doesn’t keep disengaging the lock.


An emergency release break glass unit is provided on the secure side of all doors, either read in or read in/out. The break glass unit enables a single action to disengage the locking mechanism in an emergency and allow free egress from an access controlled area.


Entry panels are provided where regular visitors are expected who will not have controlled access to a premises/area. They are available as Audio, Video, Vandal Resistant, Push Button, Digital and offer an unattached method of vetting visitors.


Door entry handsets are connected to door entry panels to allow audio or audio/ visual communication to be undertaken and a decision made on allowing access.


A electromagnetic lock (maglock) is a locking device that consists of an electromagnet and an armature plater mounted upon the door. The maglock can be configured as ‘fail safe’ or ‘fail secure’


8 ‘fail secure’ depending on what is required

in the event of lock failure.


Access control locks are not recommended for securing external entry/exits and secondary manual locking is



Access control doors should be interfaced with the house fire alarm system to enable the Access Control System to each door to be disengaged in the event of a fire alarm activation. Fire alarm interfaces should be provided at each single access control door controller and not be provided as a single interface signal for multiple door controllers via a PC or access door controller network. The reason this is recommended is because the Access Control System is not wired in fire rated cable and if the PC or access control network were to fail the fire alarm interface wouldn’t be able to signal all doors to release.


Cost of Access Control

The cost of your Access Control System will depend on a number of factors such as the size of your site, the number of access control points needed, the type of system you choose etc. Although the initial cost is generally a capital cost to the business, it can be spread over a number of years.

You should also factor in the cost of one or two maintenance visits per year. There is little point in installing an Access Control System if it isn’t kept in full working order - it could fail just when you need it most!



Access Control Systems that process data about a known person are obliged to conform to certain legislation, most importantly the Data Protection

Act and the Human Rights Act. BSI’s standards are designed

to supplement that legislation. They give recommendations for the operation and management of access control and assists owners of these systems to follow best practices in obtaining reliable information that may be used as evidence.

BS EN 50133

Depending on the final configuration of the installed system, the equipment will meet the General requirements of the British Standard for Access Control Systems for use in security applications.


Handover and


It is essential that once the Access Control System is commissioned, the security engineer demonstrates how to use the system to the appropriate person in the organisation. This will include how to operate the system and how to carry out basic maintenance.

Once the system is fully complete and the installation is finished then the design, installation and commissioning certificates should be handed over to the client, together with an SSAIB Certificate of Conformity.


Ongoing Maintenance

Ongoing maintenance of the system by a competent approved (SSAIB or equivalent) security systems company should be carried out.

A contract should be signed by both parties to ensure everyone understands their responsibilities. This will ensure that the security systems company is legally obliged to carry out the work.

The contract should state to what standard the work is carried out, how often the tests are completed and what is included (call out and/or parts).


Every contract should include a call out facility with a minimum response time (the standard is 8 hours) to ensure any emergency breakdowns are attended to quickly. All Access Control Systems should have a preventative maintenance visit where tests are carried out to ensure the system operates at an optimum level and any failing parts are replaced before they cause a major malfunction. These tests should be carried annually.



Your system, when installed new, should carry a warranty of at least 12 months. It is important to determine with your

supplier that this warranty includes

labour as some companies (wrongly in

our opinion) only include the parts. This means you could have a valid warranty claim and have to pay more for the part to be fitted than the part is worth itself!

It is also important to ensure whoever maintains the system is also the company that carries out any corrective works or work on the system, as this could invalidate your maintenance contract if someone else works on the system.


Corrective Works &

Ongoing Support

It is important to have any faulty parts corrected straight away, just as you would do with an MOT for a car. It is wise to keep the Access Control System up to date and working at its

optimum level, as in the long term this is more cost effective than having call outs and emergency repairs at a later date. It also reduces the risk of a faulty part not operating correctly at the time when you need it the most……..when there is a

security breach!

Your maintenance company should provide a quick turnaround written report of any equipment that fails the tests. This should state what has failed and the seriousness of the failure e.g. is it a non-compliance issue or is it just a recommendation.

If there is a delay between the failure of the part/system and the corrective works being carried out then a back up procedure should be put in place such as key only entry or a manned security presence. On average your new Access Control System should last around 5 - 10 years, depending on the volume of usage, before upgrades to the system will be needed. During this time things will break down and/or get damaged. There will be building changes, legislation and standard changes but if you correct these as they happen then you can be certain of a reliable and cost effective Access Control System.


10 Assured Fire & Security Ltd

Unit 4 Carrera Court Church Lane Dinnington Sheffield South Yorkshire S25 2RG

0845 402 3045




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