The rapid expansion of new technologies has created exciting capabilities, the most successful of which offer conveniences that make day-to-day life easier. Keeping up with the latest technologies can sometimes lead to a mechanical vs. electronic mindset, where mechanical options are seen as mere opportunities to upgrade. But according to Brad Aikin and Paul Seitz of Schlage, it’s more advantageous to consider how the two complement one another. “It’s more about convergence, not conversion,” says Seitz, business leader for Schlage mechanical. “It’s often assumed that new technology must cannibalize the old, but residents benefit more when we choose a combination of electro-mechanical and traditional mechanical solutions in a way that addresses their specific needs.” Ultimately, the decision to integrate electronic options should be based on the specific needs of residents and staff for each door opening. When the unique purpose of each area of a property is taken into account, and a blend of mechanical and electronic solutions is used to serve those purposes, a more positive and holistic experience emerges for both the residents and staff.
“There will always be those applications in a property where mechanical is still the best option,” says Aikin. “It’s really all about what you can achieve with that entry, and what the needs of the building owner and administrator are. It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming you need the same solution across all doors, but it’s really important to tailor the experience to each point in the property to maximize the experience for the resident and staff.” Convergence of mechanical and electronic solutions create enhanced experience The most successful integration of new technologies happens when they are merged with the mechanical to create an enhanced experience for the end user. One example of successful technological convergence is the automobile. Today’s cars are more reliable than ever, but they also do a lot more than just getting you and the kids to soccer practice on time. The GPS system guides you to the field while the kids watch a movie on the built-in screen or browse the web by connecting to the car’s WiFi signal. You know you’ll arrive at your destination as always, but you’ll also have a better experience getting there. “We believe the same concept applies to door hardware,” says Aikin, Electronics Portfolio Leader for Schlage. “As technology evolves, you start getting more features to complement the fundamental need. Cars today have electronic connectivity that adds to the existing mechanical experience, similar to the added experience of connected hardware.” Today’s electronic and connected access solutions offer an added level of keyless convenience for residents and staff, offering high security alongside data about who entered the access point and when. The style, security, and reliability expected from mechanical hardware is the foundation of the solution, while the addition of new technology offers expanded capabilities and conveniences to residents and staff. These solutions are also getting more affordable, making it possible to use them in applications beyond just high security perimeter access points. Properties that take advantage of these new capabilities will stay competitive in a channel that’s rapidly evolving. Ultimately, even the most secure and reliable applications of mechanical hardware will become insufficient if they don’t offer residents the level of convenience they expect.
Electronic solutions getting more affordable, easier to install In the past, the high cost of electronic solutions prompted many property managers to cut costs by using them only at access points where the highest level of security was needed. Today, electronic solutions are affordable enough to implement throughout a property, even at interior doors where security is a minor consideration. In fact, electronics often make sense at many of these doors because they can offer data around who used the door and when.
The cost of data in general is coming down. With Aikin and Seitz's combined industry experience, they estimate that the cost of sensors has reduced almost fifty percent in recent years. The cost of transmitting that information, bandwidth, has come down nearly forty times. And the cost of processing that information has come down nearly sixty times. This means that electronic solutions can offer property management more information about what’s happening in their building than ever, and at a decreasing cost. The return on investment of these solutions is therefore rapidly increasing, and with more and more residents expecting the convenience of keyless electronic solutions, it’s becoming harder to afford not to integrate them. “Unfortunately, what we see happening quite a bit is that, by taking the electronics out of the application, you actually increase the cost of owning and managing that property,” says Seitz. This is especially true because electronic solutions also give time back to the staff, so they can reduce the time spent on administrating. With a solution like Schlage ControlTM Smart Locks, they no longer have to visit each door to rekey it when a resident moves out. Money is saved on rekeying materials and the copying and management of keys. Many electronics can be easily installed without professional help, and are so intuitive to operate that residents will rarely need assistance. “Everything about these technologies is getting easier,” says Aikin. “The adoption rate has steadily ramped up and it’s gotten to the point that the cost and time investment of deployment is coming down, and we are starting to see all kinds of additional benefits related to receiving data from these solutions.” Successful applications blend mechanical and electronic solutions to serve the resident Adopting electronic access solutions is best done with a plan in mind. Each area of a property, and each access point, serves a specific need for both residents and staff. The most successful applications use a blend of mechanical and electronic solutions as needed to serve the unique needs of each access point. “Just because you could put an electronic solution in place doesn’t automatically mean you should; it still may be best to use a mechanical solution in that place,” says Seitz. “At the same time, to do what was thought of as electronic and connected in the past has really changed.”
Sometimes a high-dollar electronic solution is the right way to go, but at the other end of the spectrum exists electrified openings that are closer to $500 per door. These are often helpful at various access points beyond just the perimeter due to the added information and data they provide. An always-unlocked interior door outfitted with an electronic solution can provide information about resident behavior, which can in turn lead to property management implementing changes that drive value and convenience for residents. The future of property management relies on convergence With new technologies available all the time, it can be difficult to know where to begin adopting them to actually derive value. The tried and true starting point, however, is with the needs of your residents and staff – not just within the building in general, but in each area and at each access point. Residents may need an easy and convenient way to access the computer and printer in the common area, while staff need to keep the equipment secure and make sure it is available to residents only. An electronic solution may work best, pairing the solid reliability and high security of mechanical hardware with the keyless convenience and data collection of newer technology. If the staff needs to secure a storage closet, a simple mechanical lock may be the best solution. The right blend of these solutions within a property creates a cohesive experience that makes sense to residents and makes their day easier, and offers staff a more organized and efficient experience. “With the right brand and the right solution, like Schlage, the things that are fundamental about the product are always going to be there, so you can implement these new technologies without sacrificing anything,” says Seitz. “Mechanical solutions will always be an essential aspect of any property’s layout, and now electronics offer enhanced capabilities that property managers can extend to their residents and staff that make the experience even richer.”