Reliable digital access requires mechanical innovation and experience

June 16, 2024

Kelly Gill, Chief Technology Officer at ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions EMEIA, discusses the critical role of mechanical technology as an enabler for the latest innovations in digital access.

A rapid process of digitalization in access and security technologies is underway. But electronics are not a replacement for – but a complement to – robust, secure, trusted mechanical design.

Growing demand for convenience, connectivity and new functionality continuously extends the power and level of choice in access devices. Digitalization is a key enabler of more comfortable and tailored access solutions in both residential and commercial buildings.

Yet the necessity for innovations in mechanical design remains as great as ever. Why? Because all new digital locking functionality must be backed up by intelligently designed, secure mechanical elements. It is not the electronics that keep a door bolt in position, but rather the lock’s physical components.

Convenience and security work together

The digital components of many ASSA ABLOY solutions are designed to enhance usability and convenience. For example, they replace the need to carry a heavy keychain by providing a programmable credential – card, key or smartphone – which can unlock several openings. In the event of a lost a key or card, the digital element enables easy disabling of those access rights, eliminating the need to replace keys and cylinders. This saves management costs, time and hassle.

But to be fully effective, every digital locking device requires the electronics and mechanical security to work in tandem. If the mechanical part of the lock is flawed, the door can be opened regardless of its digital security. This is where access providers with a strong heritage in mechanical manufacturing have the edge in our rapidly digitalizing market. Many components within a digital access device are and will remain mechanical. Authentication and authorization will continue transitioning to digital, clearly, but internal mechanics must keep the door locked and the space secure.

An additional convenience benefit, digitalization also enables seamless integration with complementary products and solutions: in a domestic setting, with smart doorbells, security cameras and intruder alarms; in the workplace, with a range of business-critical systems from time-and-attendance software to complex smart building management systems.

This interaction between digital and mechanical technology is fundamental in future-proofing homes and businesses – far beyond just their security.

Standards in mechanical and digital security

Agreed standards help customers make an informed decision. They provide a scale to make comparisons – for example, from high to low security needs. As a long-time industry leader, ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions takes an active part in driving independent standards to a higher level, to ensure customers have access devices with mechanical and digital components which deserve their trust. Our in-house testing labs push every device and component to its limit, long before it ever reaches the market.

A growing focus on security standards is also evident in the realm of IoT devices, where data breaches and cyber-attacks are increasingly common and potentially costly. In 2023, IBM estimated the average cost to a business of a data breach at more than 4m EUR*.

In response to increased risk, supra-national regulators such as the European Union have begun promoting more robust cybersecurity measures, including to regulate the security of all products with digital components. Very soon, companies which want to sell into the EU market must show that their product meets basic cybersecurity requirements. PSTI has been introduced in UK law to set security standards for IoT devices.

This higher profile for standards will help ASSA ABLOY and our industry peers to better communicate security benefits, risks and best practices. A commitment to developing secure products, both their mechanical and digital elements, is quickly repaid by customer peace of mind.

All over the world customers rely on ASSA ABLOY – whether that’s the new Tekirdağ City Hospital which needed a large mechanical master-key system for multiple types of locking point**; or Helsinki Airport selecting digital solutions for doors and cabinets to integrate with existing access management software***.

Experience gained in designing and manufacturing mechanical solutions for all types of application is an essential ingredient. It fosters and supports the digital innovation that customers increasingly rely on.




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