Under Lock and Key 


Top Considerations for Commercial Door Hardware 

Architects and specifiers charged with selecting the right lock and key mechanisms for commercial doors must weigh a variety of factors – functionality, security, access control, code compliance, durability, and more. The overriding objective: Ensure that the occupants and assets in the building are safe and secure by creating a barrier that prevents unauthorized entry.
Meeting that threshold requires a detailed examination of the circumstances:

  • How does the chosen locking mechanism provide the right level of safety and security?
  • How easy is it to operate?
  • Does it require access to a wireless signal of some kind, and if so, what benefit does that provide?
  • Does it meet the fire safety compliance standards that are applicable to the structure?
  • Will the hardware be durable enough to withstand traffic?
  • Will it provide the right access for day-to-day use?

Today’s locking mechanisms offer a level of sophistication and customization unheard of decades ago. Far from the simple lock and key, modern locks enable building owners to create customized digital codes for individual employees, vendors, and others, further enhancing safety and security.

Here is a primer on how to make the right selection.

Enhancing the Basics: Code Compliance and Safety

No matter the space, ensuring a building meets all standards related to code compliance, emergency egress, and fire safety are all among the top considerations when selecting and installing doors and hardware. During an emergency, people tend to crowd the area near exits and decision makers want to be sure that occupants can safely get out of the building in a timely fashion. Building codes and regulations mandate the use of emergency exit hardware to maximize safety measures.

First, consider the use of exit devices and which doors need to be designated as emergency exits. With the use of exit devices, not only does it restrict entry to unauthorized people, but it also serves as an increased safety feature in the event of an emergency.

An exit device, sometimes referred to as a panic bar, is specifically engineered to meet life safety standards by quickly unlocking a door in emergency situations. These mechanisms are comprised of a spring-loaded metal bar affixed horizontally inside a door designed for egress.

In public, commercial spaces, adhering to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines includes ensuring door hardware is easily operable by those with disabilities. This may include different style levers, handles and knobs to accommodate all users. ADA guidelines are set to ensure a user-friendly interface and seamless entrances to spaces. ADA-compliant hardware includes lever handles, push-type mechanisms, and U-shaped handles that can be operated with one hand and do not require tight grasping or twisting of the wrist.

Keeping Up with Traffic

Commercial spaces see different levels of traffic depending upon their intended use. A retail store or health care facility will see many more visitors than an industrial site with a small number of employees. Consider the anticipated traffic flow of the door on any commercial building to ensure it is outfitted with the right grade of lock:

  • Grade 1 locks are highest performing, often used in high-security commercial settings.
  • Grade 2 locks are ideal for commercial usage with standard traffic flow.
  • Grade 3 locks are ideal for basic residential security.

For instance, if a Grade 3 lock (residential) is installed on a hospital door instead of a Grade 1 lock (industrial), the wear and tear of the door will be much higher than that of a residential space. This, in turn, leads to wear and tear on the lock mechanism. What follows is possible malfunction, decreased security, and increased maintenance needs.

To ensure the longevity and proper functionality of doors in high-traffic environments, using a higher-grade lock such as a Grade 1 or Grade 2 lock will provide enhanced security and functionality benefits to minimize maintenance costs and ensure the safety of the building occupants. Top of FormBottom of Form

Maximizing Functionality

After understanding traffic flow and security needs, it is time to consider the different functionalities of the lock and key systems. In high-occupancy buildings, specifiers and building owners need to answer a variety of questions:

  • What is the usage of the building/room?
  • Is it a passage door or a storage room?
  • How many people need access?
  • Is their high-value/confidential information that needs to be protected?
  • Does it need custom access codes?

Identify the use of the door to decide what locking mechanism will be the right fit. If it is a passage door leading to a common area, those may not require as sophisticated of a locking system as a storage room.

Take the case of a healthcare facility. Locking systems for pharmaceutical storage areas, laboratories, or areas containing sensitive patient information are considered limited-access areas for security purposes compared to the general access points of a building.

Determine if different levels of access are needed for different users. Depending on the facility, some doors may require a system that grants different permissions to different individuals based on the need to maximize security.

Large buildings like offices, warehouses, and hotels may require different access codes. For doors leading to administrative offices, staff-only areas, or restricted floors, this is where electronic locks with multiple access codes come into consideration to control entry permissions.

Solutions such as the LE2000 by Tell Manufacturing provide the ideal blend of reliability and security for these scenarios. With a redefined electronic commercial lock system, the LE2000 features a variety of programmable functions and up to 30 customizable access codes to accommodate a variety of needs. The product does not require connection to the internet and comes with a tactical rubber keypad and a battery life of up to three years, ensuring a user-friendly, maintenance free system that delivers peace of mind.

Unlocking Innovation

With upgrades to functionality, access control, and security, today’s commercial door hardware offers architects an array of options. A careful analysis of the needs of each building – and each door within – will result in smart choices for locking mechanisms and a safer, more secure space for everyone involved.