When it comes to commercial security needs, keys are always at the very heart of the matter.
How many keys do we require? How do we manage and distribute the keys? Should staff be able to access all areas of the building? What are our security risks?
These are all questions that confront business owners, landlords, property managers, body corporates and the like when assessing their keying and security requirements.
A Master Key System may be the answer you’re seeking!
What is a Master Key System?
A Master Key System comprises of a hierarchy of keys and a number of cylinders / locks that allow different groups or individual key holders to gain access to all or specifically designated areas of a building or buildings.
Put simply, a master keyed lock is a lock that is designed to be opened by individual keys, but can also be opened by using a master key.
What are the benefits of a master key system?
There are many benefits of a master key system, but the overriding one is that access can be controlled, allowing appropriate people access to defined parts of the building.
Other benefits include:
A master key system or Restricted System, use security key blanks which are specifically designed keys which can only be obtained / copied only from the Locksmith business which designed the system, and only then with authorisation from the Building’s owner or nominee
Locks are more secure as the restricted key-way reduces the chance of accidental opening with the wrong key
Restricted security key blanks are patent protected (design registered) therefore key manufacturers are not allowed to produce copies of that design
Individuals can have access to more doors using only a minimum number of keys• A master key system is a dynamic entity and as your business/organisation changes, a well-planned master key system should be able to adapt to changing requirements
Accurate records of keys and who has them can be easily kept and maintained, eliminating the possibility of duplicate keys being made without authorisation.
What is the difference between master keying and keying alike?
A master key will operate two or more locks that operate on two individual keys.
Keying a lock alike is to have several locks altered to operate using one key exclusively.
Keying alike is great for domestic purposes and small businesses, enabling key holders to open several doors (front door, back door and security door for example) with the single key.
Things to consider when implementing a secure master key system
The system should be designed with an eye to the future, plan how many different types of keys you will need today and add 50% for tomorrow
Place people into groups, this will indicate how many different types of key you will need. Then decide where each group needs access, this will indicate which doors each key will operate
Simplify your design. It may be that you could merge two key groups into one. This may allow key-holders access to doors they wouldn’t normally use, but if you feel this does not compromise your security then it may be good. Having less key groups allows your system to be more flexible
Tips on maintaining a secure system
Issuing keys, especially high level keys should not be done lightly. Should the integrity of the system be compromised e.g. if a key is misplaced, part or all of the system may need to be re-keyed to lock out the missing key. For this reason it is important to keep an accurate key register of who holds what key. Collecting keys back after their owner no longer needs them is essential.
Consider the level of access the key holder requires. The level of key held does not necessarily reflect the status of the holder! For example the CEO of the company may only need a key to his office, whilst the Cleaner probably needs to access every lock in the Building. Giving someone a high level key when they only need to unlock one door is an accident waiting to happen
There is no need to keep spare keys on site. If someone forgets their key they should be made to realise that it is a huge inconvenience to them, this way they will be more likely to remember tomorrow. If you need a new key or a replacement key, follow company procedure to obtain one. It only takes a few minutes for your locksmith to cut a new key. If spare keys must be kept, then they should be locked away in the safe. The top drawer of the Receptionist’s desk is the first place a thief will look
Introduce protocols/policies that outline the use and functioning of the system, particularly with the distribution and request for new keys.
Formal requests should be made for replacement of a key or issue of a key for a new staff member. Restricted keys require an authorised person to sign a request form that is provided to the locksmith before the keys are cut.
The number of people on your ‘approved authorised persons list’ is up to you, obviously the less the better! Your locksmith will not cut any keys unless it has been submitted/approved by a company signatoryIn addition, make key holders sign a document upon issue of their key.
A written policy may state: The key belongs to the company and will be returned when it is no longer required, the key holder will not lend or swap keys and that if their key is lost, and will be required to pay $100 before they are issued with another key.
This fee may seem a little steep, but it is not a lot when you consider the cost of making sure that the lost key doesn’t work anywhere on the system. It will also make them think twice before lending their keys to anyone!
Consult with us today if you have any questions about your system!