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Access control: new technology enters into play

Access control for rooms and other private areas of a hotel is an area for constant technical improvement. Not widespread a few years ago, the introduction of RFID and the possibility to trigger it from a short range are now commonplace on the hotelscape. An close look at a technology that has been mastered.“Thanks to the Zigbee protocol short wave system, emitter- receptor locks dialogue with a router in proximity to the room that sends the message to a receiver-gateway at the end of the hallway that dialogues with the properties LAN,” describes Christian Hénon while adding: “one should not worry about a breakdown in the network. The locks remain autonomous.” The Messenger system of Kaba Saflok also offers the possibility of launching many automation applications that could use this Zigbee protocol. When the guest passes his card in front of the lock, the lights go on; electric shutters open or close depending on the time of day; the temperature adjusts to his specifications.After an innovation phase with the first models of RFID locks, the time has come for extensive commercialization of this supply. A month after it was launched, last June Onity proudly outfitted 28 hotels with its Advance RFID model. Mark Gordon, president, said he was thrilled “with initial sales. We are continuing to receive orders worldwide.” “RFID installations are spreading,” confirms Jean-Christian Samyn, president of Kaba Saflok EMEA. “They constitute 20% of our orders. In the economy hotel segment, Campanile and Ibis, among others, are interested.” It has been over a year now since Kaba Saflok unfurled its Generation 790 models and the high design lock Quantum RFID. At Vingcard, the innovative Signature range, that is invisible on the door, remains the star product for new constructions and complete renovations. But a few weeks ago Vingcard has added a new string to its bow by applying this technology to its historic Classic series. “It had seen every variety of card: punch, magnetic, smart. This was the only technology it did not have,” rejoices Christian Hénon, president of Assa Abloy Hospitality France.Those with the magnetic card version of the Classic lock may, if they wish, update their installation. A conversion kit makes it possible to shift from one technology to the other. “It is enough to remove the card reader and clip the RFID kit – a black card reader that wraps over the lockface – in its place,” explains Christian Henon. “This simple opera tion take three to five minutes per door and the hotelier himself may do it with help from the instructions provided.” Access to this new technology costs about a hundred euros per lock: “the price of a lock made in China,” specifies the president of Assa Abloy Hospitality France.These different elements could facilitate the progressive shift from one technology towards the other. “I imagine the world’s hotel supply will make the switch to RFID in 5 or 10 years,” estimates Christian Hénon. Customers have gotten used to it. In particular, contactfree technology, which has held its own in France at companies and with the Navigo pass in Paris for public transportation, makes it possible to eliminate a recurring problem with magnetic cards: demagnetization. “Even if the room for error remains low, the slightest defect is a problem in the hotel world. Particularly for hotels with no night reception where the client can find himself locked out,” warns the president of Kaba Saflok EMEA. To compensate for this recurring inconvenience with magnetic cards, this firm offers an encoder that works with cards with high coercivity. “That resolves 99% of problems,” remarks Jean-Christian Samyn.Nonetheless, “the future clearly lies in RFID,” declaims the president of Kaba Saflok EMEA. In addition to eliminating demagnetization problems, several factors support the argument for the future leadership of Radio Frequency IDentification. By beginning with potentialities that are greater than those of the magnetic card with its three recording bands. RFID cards are, in fact able to transport many other messages so they may be used as a payment device in bars and restaurants at the property or the different points of sale at resorts. “It can also be used for distributors in corridors, the business center, to count photocopies,” adds president of Assa Abloy Hospitality France. Another advantage is that the proximity reader cannot provoke any mechanical problems. Gone are physical insertion of the card into the lock, mechanical movement, abrasion and clogging: maintenance is reduced whereas previously the reader needed to be changed every 4 to 5 years. This long lifespan also applies to RFID cards. Encrypting knows no limits. ìUntil the card is physical at check out.One major impediment remains, however, for this solution’s expansion: its price. This support is costly. “We continue to be four or five times more expensive than traditional magnetic cards,” recognizes Jean-Christian Samyn. Where the magnetic card costs an average of 0.15 euro, the RFID version costs 1 euro. Professionals are confidant there will be a progressive drop in the cost of these supplies. Smart cards were held back in their expansion due to cost, the RFID should not experience the same fate.Increased outfitting of hotels should have a positive impact– from hoteliers’ point of view – on their cost. As should the arrival of cards produced in Asia. “Although there is always a concern about the constancy of their quality, Asian products will force market prices to drop. Already in the past the arrival of Asian locks on the market made us lower our prices. Today the price of an RFID lock is lower than that of magnetic locks five years ago,” reminds the president of Kaba Saflok EMEA.Alongside this probable evolution, locks are becoming increasingly talkative. The leaders are marketing online solutions for room access. Visionline at Vingcard and Messenger at Kaba Saflok: these solutions have the same goal. They enable a dialogue between a central point and the lock of a room so that access may be altered in real time, the history of its use may be consulted and reception may be advised if it dysfunctions. If a room is not closed properly, the alarm and security modules of Vingcard Visionline software warns reception so it can take immediate action.“Thanks to the Zigbee protocol short wave system, emitter- receptor locks dialogue with a router in proximity to the room that sends the message to a receiver-gateway at the end of the hallway that dialogues with the properties LAN,” describes Christian Hénon while adding: “one should not worry about a breakdown in the network. The locks remain autonomous.” The Messenger system of Kaba Saflok also offers the possibility of launching many automation applications that could use this Zigbee protocol. When the guest passes his card in front of the lock, the lights go on; electric shutters open or close depending on the time of day; the temperature adjusts to his specifications.

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