The Electromechanical evolution for care home owners

Jeffrey Bennett, Commercial Leader for Allegion in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey, discusses why we are seeing a convergence of electronics into mechanical door hardware, and crucially how it will affect a rapidly growing market, the care home.

‘Electromechanical’ is still quite a new term in the door hardware industry, and the convergence of electronics and mechanical hardware that has given rise to this word’s popularity in the industry has only recently truly taken off.

What we are seeing now is security, facilities and buildings managers valuing this technology. Customising their door access controls so it is unique to their buildings and operations is now easier than ever, and making it a useful, perhaps even necessary, addition to the safety and security of buildings and occupants.

But why has this perception changed? And exactly what has happened to cause this change in the way of thinking about these products? More crucially, how does electromechanical play into the world for one of the most important and growing markets of the UK, the care home?

Real-world solutions

The first reason is that technology is becoming more relevant to the vertical markets it is targeting and, as such, an evolution with these products is taking place – in quite a rapid fashion, too.

When electronics first burst onto the scene of mainstream door access and control, they were viewed more as gadgets as opposed to something that offered real substance. The consensus around the market was that it made your building look and feel more aesthetically pleasing if your occupants could swipe through a door with a keycard or transponder, but realistically, mechanical lock and key would essentially do the same job. Mechanical locks also seemed like more affordable options, due to the high outlay of wiring and ‘first systems’ costs.

Cycle forward to today’s world, however, and things are much different. The constant development of electronics married to the take-off of the Internet of Things (IoT) has led to real and tangible benefits and solutions, while costs have gone down. Wireless solutions are in abundance, battery life is ever improving and easy retrofitting is the name of the game currently. Return on investment has never been higher – not just in monetary terms, but in security and safety terms, too.

Take for example the SimonsVoss access control systems: They have been developed to give door access at the tap of a button from our web app, timed access scheduling plus remote door lockdown. You can immediately see how electromechanical has gone way beyond just aesthetics and focused more on how to help raise security and control.

The internet and wireless technology has, of course, created new possibilities and that is the second reason why the trend of electromechanical convergence has taken place – there is much greater control and scope for development. Whether access is scheduled or in real time, information can be tracked and security can be reviewed to improve processes. In the event of a breach, that breach can be addressed immediately.

Greater control for care home staff

For care homes, the electromechanical evolution can only be a good thing for staff operation and the safety of the residents.

One of the ongoing challenges that faces the care home sector is a growing number of residents versus a diminishing capacity of carers. As such, there is a strain on resources, and this can impact in many areas of the care home.

With electromechanical hardware, this situation can now be monitored much more closely than before using smart controls. For instance, hardware can now be audited to see who has accessed a room and when, giving a better onus of accountability to the staff.

Monitoring when a door or room has been accessed will also be beneficial. If residents suffer from dementia for example, they are more prone to the symptom called ‘wandering’. Residents who are known to have this, can be immediately set up with monitors on their doorways to show when they have left the room. If the door has been used during irregular time periods then staff can be alerted to that activity.

Electronic access control solutions also balance the need for control and the freedom of movement. In care homes, where there are private areas and also common areas, this is of great importance to protect one’s privacy, dignity and possessions, but also balance with health and safety requirements too. Such systems can be used to secure common areas, main entrances, stairwells and emergency exits from unauthorised access, without comprising safe exit.

The world is getting more complex, so we at Allegion will continue to lead in electromechanical convergence and innovation. Dave Petratis, Chairman, President and CEO of Allegion puts it quite succinctly:

“Electromechanical convergence doesn’t mean we’re asking customers to completely convert to electronic security products – we’re encouraging them to use electronic solutions to complement their mechanical. We’re discussing both mechanical and electronic to balance the physical security needs with unique applications that are secure, cost-effective and convenient to use.”

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About Allegion™
Allegion (NYSE: ALLE) is a global pioneer in safety and security, with leading brands like CISA®, Interflex®, LCN®, Schlage®, SimonsVoss® and Von Duprin®. Focusing on security around the door and adjacent areas, Allegion produces a range of solutions for homes, businesses, schools and other institutions. Allegion is a $2 billion company, with products sold in almost 130 countries.

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