Digital security products evolve within a changing market

It seems keyless digital locks are here to stay with industry experts saying that the digital security segment has now taken over the market and will remain a dominant force for many years to come.

ASSA ABLOY’s continued evolution
ASSA ABLOY’s recent launch activity has been around digital products and products for multi-residential developments, according to Senior Product Manager, Andrew Williams, who said ASSA ABLOY’s recent door furniture launch was designed specifically for multi-residential buildings.

ASSA ABLOY’s Yale Simplicity Series was launched late last year primarily to meet a growing need for multi-residential apartment door hardware. Yale Simplicity levers are fire rated and designed to work with mortice locks, and also feature passage and privacy functions so the entire apartment may be fitted out in a consistently styled lever in the ever popular satin stainless steel finish.

“For some years now, multi-residential apartments have been the way Australia is solving its housing shortage, as opposed to building more traditional homes. There has been a huge boom in that space and this has impacted the traditional home market. This is why we developed door furniture specific for this application and why we also have further products in the pipe-line specifically for this market,” Mr Williams said.

The fundamental requirement in an apartment is for a door lock to be fire rated so if there is a fire in that apartment, it is isolated to that apartment to prevent the fire spreading and potentially prevent people from exiting the building, Mr Williams pointed out.

High-end market progresses
When it comes to current trends, high-end applications are definitely changing, according to Mr Williams, who said this is particularly apparent when it comes to combining modern door furniture with larger building design trends such as timber panelling.

“If you think the use of timber panelling and timber facades in modern buildings, designers are looking for softer tones, such as real copper finishes and rose gold finishes, while black obviously has been all the rage,” Mr Williams said.

“I don’t think black is a fad. It is not going anywhere because people are constantly treating it as an option. It is not the number one volume finish but equally it is not like gold finish either, which ebbs and flows with market design trends. Even the bronzes are making a comeback, but again this is through high-end penetration,” he said.

Digital’s evolvement continues
Whilst it has certainly been a core area of focus, the digital lock market still has a long way to go, according to Mr Williams, who said when looking at both the overseas and local markets, the space continues to grow quickly and will increasingly become a mainstream thing.

“In regards to ASSA ABLOY’s product development, we realise we are servicing a small but emerging market segment, but we do see this as a potential growth area in Australia with the expectation being that more than two million homes are expected to have some smart capabilities by 2022. Ten years ago, ASSA ABLOY, globally, was 70 per cent mechanical hardware and now we are majority electromechanical based,” he said.

Mr Williams also pointed out that as a large market player, ASSA ABLOY sees innovation as the best opportunity it has for sustained growth.

“We see mechanical products increasingly tending towards commodity lines that people see mostly in functional terms. The expectation is if the customer is to pay more, there will be some degree of smarts embedded within the product. Whilst this presents a great opportunity for existing players with changing technology there is also the opportunity for new solutions to enter the market making it a really interesting time for locking solutions,” he said.

“Our focus is on quickly bringing solutions to market and penetrating digital solutions into the market that offer those value sets that are emerging, whether it is Bluetooth connectivity, stand-alone digital or the ability to send and share digital keys. These things are changing quickly and we are responding so we remain front of mind,” Mr Williams said.

Launched late last year, ASSA ABLOY’s Yale Assure has the Bluetooth connectivity supported by a smart phone app, which best summarises this response, he said.

“We are now committed to the program that Yale Assure starts, which is why there is definitely more to come in this space. The Yale Assure satisfies one common door prep, which is the deadbolt, because as much as you want to move away from mechanical solutions there are fundamentals on how a door works,” Mr Williams said.

“It is the difference between a digital lock, a connected digital lock and the diffusion of home automation that will drive the need away from a just a standard keyless entry lock to something that truly does integrate with alarms and CCTV. However, realistically this could go much further than simply security elements.”

“If I was to ask consumers what they wanted in a digital lock, there would not be a standard answer. Right now, it is about being flexible and responsive to the drivers in the background,” he said.

Evolvement of standards
Mr Williams said that whilst there is always going to be the consumer that requires the minimum compliance product there remains strong demand for products designed to a standard.

“This is particularly in regards to fire isolation compliance products as there is an understanding that if you cut corners on this compliance element, it can have disastrous effects. By developing our products to suit Australian standards we ensure the products are both fit for purpose and uniquely relevant to Australian conditions while ensuring safety, security and product life,” he said.

However, developing and testing products to Australian Standards comes at a cost, according to Mr Williams, who said testing is costly and is often done by external testing authorities.
“Most likely the materials and manufacturing processes may need to be more costly to produce compliant products, but when you consider the potential costs that may play out as a result of a non-compliance, we couldn’t be more satisfied that by focusing on compliance to standards, we provide products that represent true value to our customers,” he said.

Delf excites the Australian market
Keeping in line with its recently expanded operation, Delf is now in the process of releasing a progressive, contemporary range of Euro style deadbolts, internal levers, key-in knob sets, key-in lever sets, deadbolts and accessories for the Australian market to suit new-home builders and renovators across the board, Delf Managing Director, Ian Berger announced recently.

“A highlight of the range, which builds on Delf’s existing quality and stylish products, is the innovative Delf Linear Secure, ideal to create an imposing front door impression. Combining all the functions of a front door lock in one latch hole including a quality exterior security lock, passage set and deadlock innovation, it also comes with a Tesa TE2 (equivalent to GR9) keyway,” Mr Berger said.

“Delf’s forward-thinking new range, available in a variety of finishes, offers a seven year guarantee, with more products due to be released over the next few months. Demand so far has been very strong, with the market responding exceptionally well to the modern styling, finishes and most importantly the value and innovation that our products consistently represent,” he said.

It seems the safety and security market will continue to grow and evolve, according to Mr Berger, who said builders and consumers alike are making it clear that they are tired of paying more for the same things, while also showing increasing frustration with the lack of innovation within the market currently.

“Local manufacturers have generally lagged behind international counterparts in developing products for this market, and a lack of ground-breaking products has, over time, resulted in the local market slowing compared to the overseas pace,” he said.

Quality, style and innovation remain a focus for Delf, combined with the excellent value for money that the products represent.

“Our new, front door Linear Secure, in satin chrome finish, is our current flagship product, which is hitting the mark beautifully in all of these areas. Delf is also genuinely committed to building excellent working relationships with our customers which is absolutely core to our business,” he said.

While competition remains a healthy part of the growing and changing market, Mr Berger believes that the safety and security market is about to get a whole lot more competitive.

“Corporates in the market often have a very high margin expectation for what is a commodity product, which makes it an interesting industry to be in and we believe there are interesting times ahead. Delf’s move into the new housing market is one example of how things are changing,” he said.

With a changing and growing market comes challenge and Mr Berger believes that issues in the market are not so much about the standards themselves, but the enforcement of these standards that remains the challenge.
“Door closers are a great example: How many so called ‘fire rated’ door closers could pass a truly independent testing system? This is a question we often hear commercial builders ask,” he said.

Looking ahead, Mr Berger said Australians will also be conscious of security, with the current Australian climate of home invasions and other (media) publicised crime accentuating this, despite any actual overall lowering of crime rates that may be occurring.

Allegion’s new keyless entry range
There is no sign of innovation slowing in the keyless entry market, particularly with the recent launch of three new keyless entry locks into Allegion’s Schlage range, including the S-6000 Digital Touch, the S-480 Digital Touchpad Rim Lock and the Schlage S-6800 Digital Touchpad Lock with fingerprint reader.

Released over the last six months, the three new digital locks allow users to access their homes via PIN, card, fob, fingerprint and/or innovative new wristbands, according to Allegion Marketing Executive, Ryan Ilahi.

“Due to the locks being used on external doors, they are also weather resistant up to IP54, so they are very robust in their design. The new locks are also designed to deliver a high level of security, and they have the ability to re-lock themselves, if left unlocked. Users can also take advantage of the new privacy settings, which when used, ensures that the door is no longer accessible from the outside. The locks are also very easy to program,” he said.

Although Allegion has already successfully launched its Schlage Sense™ and Schlage Touch range into the keyless entry segment, it endeavoured to launch the S-Series to expand its range further.

“Although the Schlage S-Series is packed with features, the Schlage Sense™ range has more connected features as it can also be set up via a smartphone, because it is compatible with the Apple home kit ecosystem,” he said.

“Schlage Sense is the only range which is compatible with the Apple home kit currently, so that’s why it is carried by Apple in its stores, and also we are working very closely with them to add more features to it. Late last year Sense also became compatible with Android devices. So, this has also doubled the market potential for this product,” Mr Ilahi said.

Ongoing innovation
The increasing trend towards digital and keyless entry products is set to continue, according to Mr Ilahi, who said Allegion remains committed to expanding its range into the digital lock industry, particularly with plans to launch another new product later in the year.

“We are just testing this product at the moment so once the testing is complete we can launch the product here, which will hopefully be sometime this year,” he said.

While innovation continues to be Allegion’s point of difference in the market, according to Mr Ilahi, producing quality products is also of high importance.

“Obviously there are consumers who are price sensitive, while others are happy to pay more for quality products, with added features and benefits. So, I guess in every market you get a mix of both,” he said.

Bluetooth Key Safes prove popular
The concept and excitement around the smart home environment and smart locks continues to grow in similar ways, according to Mayo Hardware Product Manager, Sean Devlin-Look.

“Our Bluetooth Padlocks and Bluetooth Key Safes are growing in popularity, just like the growing trend in the smart home system. This is particularly apparent with Mayo Hardware’s Master Lock Bluetooth Key Safes, which give users the ability to control access to their home, business or holiday home right from their smart phones,” Mr Devlin-Look said.

Master Lock Bluetooth Key Safes also allow users to share permanent or temporary access via the free app or by simply sharing a manual combination code.

“Users simply download the free Master Lock Vault eLocks App, allowing remote access to the Bluetooth Key Safe so it may be accessed by people such as tradies, home care nurses, cleaners or bed and breakfast guests. It also offers a high level of convenience as it allows users to pre-set access dates for the future, which is perfect for BnB visitors to use and holiday rentals. The key safes also boast a user history feature, including guest additions or deletions, as well as guest opening and locking activity.”

“The general cost of assets is on the rise, hence consumers are more and more vigilant to protect what they have behind their garage doors, gates and fences. The average household now owns two, three and sometimes four plus cars, and it seems consumers don’t even put their car in the garage anymore because they are putting other high value assets in there,” Mr Devlin-Look said.

It seems the elderly consumer is also keen to use the Master Bluetooth Key Safe because they are more likely to trust an old-fashioned key over a keyless entry door handle on their homes and garages.

“There are trust issues there for sure. With older consumers, there is also the understanding that some keyless entry products take a little bit of effort and comprehension and are expensive to install, app software can be difficult to download and navigate through, and there can be ongoing fees or licences associated. So, the old-school style of security, key way entry, will never go away,” he said.

Available in portable (5440DAU) and wall mountable (5441DAU), the Master Lock Bluetooth Key Safes feature a solid steel body for maximum security and are also weatherproof to -40 degrees, withstanding rain, sleet and snow.

Combination and high security padlocks
As the value of assets rises, so too does the need to protect and secure expensive possessions, which is why the trend toward maximum security continues. It is for this reason that maximum-security products, such as Excell Padlocks continue to grow in popularity, as they feature a brass covered laminated steel body for greater strength and resistance to elements.

The tough cut boron carbide shackle is the second hardest material known to man, behind diamond, according to Mr Devlin-Look, who said the patented octagonal shackle is harder to grip with bolt cutters, because there is less surface area to grip.

“The professional grade ball bearing locking mechanism provides maximum pull and pry resistance. Unfortunately, opportunistic thieves are everywhere, which is why consumers remain vigilant in protecting their assets. This is often through the use of products such as Master Lock’s maximum security padlocks which boast high quality, patented features and are available in a number of sizes and weather tough options” Mr Devlin-Look said.

“There is also a resurgence in consumers buying combination padlocks. Consumers are extremely mobile these days and they travel carrying expensive products as well, whether they are camping, travelling interstate or overseas.

“There has been a definitive shift over the years from an entry level brass product towards a maximum security product. This is also the case with basic combination locks because mobile consumers are less likely to carry keys with them, but are carrying extremely valuable products within their bags. For example, school and university students now carry up to $1,500 worth of technology in their bags and lockers each day, including laptops, iPads and iPhones, so they either padlock their bag or buy a sturdy combination lock for their locker,” he said.