The business case for integrated solutions by Mark Taylor, RISCO UK and Ireland managing director
For many of the accredited and professional security installers that form a rapidly increasing share of RISCO’s customer base, the acquisition of new commercial and high-end residential projects is a key component of their business development plans.
With the potential of high returns as well as interesting work that promotes job satisfaction and employee retention - at a time when, according to apprenticeship provider Skills for Security, the industry is facing a shortage of around 30,000 engineers - these contracts are highly sought after.
Within the commercial and high-end residential sectors, end-users including those in the office, logistics, retail, hospitality and manufacturing sectors are increasingly specifying access control solutions. Indeed, business intelligence firm Expert Market Research (EMR) forecasts that globally, this market will grow by 7.4% between 2023 and 2028 (https://www.expertmarketresearch.com/reports/access-control-market).
Access control solutions have the capability of providing customers not only with an increased degree of physical security but can also help organisations to achieve wider goals. For example, environmental sustainability can be improved by controlling and monitoring access to different areas, so enabling companies to adapt their heating and lighting according to occupancy.
This increased demand for access control solutions currently coincides with one of the most challenging sets of economic circumstances seen for many years. While inflation looks set to continue to fall following last October’s 41 year high of 11.1% (https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/bulletins/consumerpriceinflation/october2022), the government predicts that by the end of 2023, it could still be double its 2% target.
Within this context, it is increasingly difficult for installers to maintain healthy margins, especially when some SME enterprises and high-end residential property owners still regard premium security as an option rather than a necessity. It is the role of manufacturers to provide customers with the opportunity to deliver cost-effective installations.
Access control technology is subject to fast-moving technological developments, and a growing number of manufacturers are now able to offer solutions that integrate access control with other security capabilities, such as intruder alarms and video verification. Precluding the complexity of combining multiple standalone systems and facilitating quicker and easier installation, these products enable installers to limit project costs.
Some integrated solutions are particularly suitable for premises including a limited number of doors, for which separate access control and intruder alarm systems are unnecessarily expensive, providing excessive levels of functionality.
They also allow installers to carry a relatively small amount of stock – of particular importance as some manufacturers continue to face post-pandemic and post-Brexit supply disruption – and to spend time training their engineers in the fitting of just one product.
As the choice of integrated intruder alarm, access control and video verification solutions expands, the process of sourcing the appropriate product can be overwhelming for installers, but there are several criteria that we recommend they look out for.
First off is to find a product that features BUS. The most flexible wiring topology on the market, BUS architecture enables devices such as keypads, detectors and sounders to be flexibly wired in a single-line “daisy-chain” protocol in addition to or in place of a conventional “star” layout. If required, it also facilitates the introduction of a “spur” configuration to wire a specific device using a short extension. BUS significantly reduces the lengths of cabling and quantity of zone expanders required. Furthermore, BUS connected devices facilitate significantly reduced on-site maintenance and fault-finding visits, allowing installers to adjust device settings remotely - with resultant cost-savings.
Linear BUS formats are quick and easy to install and incorporate an economical quantity of materials. They save installers many hours of labour: in the experience of some RISCO customers, this saving has been as high as around 75%. These benefits become particularly apparent on large commercial projects.
Launched at the end of last year and designed for projects ranging from high-end residential to multi-site commercial premises involving up to 32 doors and 512 zones, RISCO’s LightSYS+ Access Control cloud-based integrated alarm, access control and video verification solution is an adaptation of the LightSYS+ scalable hybrid intruder alarm system unveiled in January 2022.
It features RISCO BUS - the first BUS architecture on the market when it was launched nearly 20 years ago – which connects up to 32 devices via a single 4 core cable; existing cabling may be used. This technology allows contractors to programme, diagnose and service LightSYS+ Access Control remotely, speeding up installations and reducing the need for maintenance site visits.
The second criteria to look for when selecting an integrated solution is backwards compatibility. Products featuring this capability can be assimilated into any existing wiring configuration and type, facilitating flexible wired formats and selectable zone resistor values, so promoting easier upgrades and providing end-users with a cost-effective means of integrating access control.
In their entirety, integrated access control, intruder alarm and video verification systems include a range of auxiliary products such as push to exit (PTE) buttons, break glass panels, maglocks and door opener readers (DOR); IP65-rated DORs are the most versatile, able to be installed either indoors or outdoors and capable of functioning in extreme temperatures. In order to make the product procurement process as efficient as possible, it is worth sourcing a supplier offering the entire equipment portfolio.
The provision of a comprehensive suite of installer support services such as webinars and videos, as well as face-to-face training events, is also key to the delivery of cost-effective integrated solutions, and many installers prefer to work with manufacturers offering UK-based technical assistance which facilitates competitive response times.
Finally, insurance providers will stipulate that end users’ security solutions meet a range of industry standards - such as PD6662 and EN50131 – so it is crucial that installers use products that are compliant with these.
RISCO’s LightSYS+ Access Control will be on show at stand 4/E100 at The Security Event at NEC Birmingham 25th-27th April. For further details, please visit https://www.riscogroup.com/uk