Monday, June 17, 2013

Electronic Key Management Systems: Common Misconceptions — Part 1

When it comes to security and crime prevention, key control is essential. Every key and every lock must be accounted for. Most businesses realize this fact, but often don’t place enough importance on the method of key control they use.

During our 25-plus years in the industry, we’ve seen that electronic key management systems pose fewer liability concerns than key control methods such as pegboards and lockboxes. But many businesses still have objections to using automated key control systems.

In this four-part blog series, we’ll talk about why some of the most common objections people have about electronic key management systems are actually misconceptions.

Misconception #1: Transactions Take Too Long


Because the pegboard/lockbox method is so straightforward in theory, the prospect of using an electronic key management system is daunting for some. Doesn’t it take a long time to log into the system, navigate to the screen you need and then physically remove the key?

The answer is no. The idea that it takes too long to check keys in and out of an electronic key control systems is a myth.

Let’s compare the pegboard/lockbox method to automated key control systems, using a KeyTrak system with a fingerprint reader as a reference.

To Check Keys Out

Pegboard/Lockbox: 30 seconds-5 minutes
Time accounts for locating key and manually updating log sheet.

KeyTrak: 15-60 seconds
Time accounts for logging in with fingerprint reader, searching for key and removing lighted key tag.

To Return Keys

Pegboard: 10-90 seconds
Time accounts for re-hanging key and updating log sheet.

KeyTrak: 5-10 seconds
Time accounts for logging in with fingerprint reader and returning key tag to any open slot in the drawer.

The Verdict

Despite the misconception that electronic key control systems make key control transactions more time-consuming, the systems hold their own when going up against pegboards and lockboxes. In most instances, carrying out transactions on the electronic key control system is actually faster than returning keys to a lockbox or pegboard and updating a log.

When checking out keys, the time it takes to retrieve a key from an electronic key control system is comparable to the time it takes to remove a key and update the log. When returning keys, the key system comes out ahead by a few seconds, even at the top end of the range.

In fact, these estimates for checking a key in or out from a pegboard or lockbox don’t even account for time spent looking for misplaced keys.

Let’s say someone checks a key out, forgets to update the log and then fails to return the key on time. If someone else needs to use the key and finds it missing from the pegboard or lockbox and there’s insufficient information in the log, they’ll have to do some detective work to find the person who last used the key. The advantage of electronic key control systems is that it automatically records user details for every transaction, so it’s easy to determine who last checked out a key.

Still, some might object that despite the faster transaction times and accountability of electronic key control systems, there’s something to be said for the simplicity of hanging a key on a hook and updating an honor-based log. Navigating an electronic key control system is too complicated and requires too much training, they say, but is that really the case?

Check back next month, and we’ll counter the “too complicated” objection as well!

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