User friendly, smart security drives market

Safety and security trends are currently based around ensuring products are more accessible, smarter and easier for consumers, which is why innovative electronics and smart technology were particularly popular throughout 2020, according to Allegion’s Marketing Manager for Australia and New Zealand, Craig Patterson.

“While there are standalone electronic locks on the market that do not communicate with an app or smart hub, it is the smart technologies that allow users to see when someone arrives at their home, or when someone is tampering with the lock. It is products such as these that remain popular within the market,” Mr Patterson said.

“The electronic space also continues to evolve with the continued launch of new products that are easier to install and use. This is a reflection of what is being launched throughout the industry currently. Simple, out of the box solutions is where the market is trending. I get a lot of feedback from end-users and channel partners and the excitement that they see around electronic locking solutions continues to gain momentum and reduce those barriers. I believe that tradies are also now recognizing that smart security is also a unique value add to their build,” he said.

It seems that locks are also now changing aesthetically, according to Mr Patterson, who said products such as the Gainsborough Freestyle Electronic Trilock, were developed specifically in Australia to cater to home owners who wanted the functionality of an electronic lock, but did not want it to necessarily look like an electronic lock. This is why the market is expanding with new look solutions, he said.

Launched in mid-August, the Gainsborough Freestyle Electronic Trilock is just one of several products launched as part of an expanding electronic portfolio, according to Mr Patterson.

“This is the smart version of our mechanical Trilock and has gained really good traction and feedback from the market. This time last year, and at the beginning of this year, we also launched the Schlage Encode which is a Wi-Fi deadbolt. In early October we also launched the Schalge Omnia Fire Rated Smart Lock to fill a gap in our portfolio for an electronic smart lock that is fire and accessibility compliant,” Mr Patterson said.

“In August we also launched the Gainsborough G3 with QuickFix which is designed specifically as a fast way of installing door hardware and the finishes are a reflection of current market trends. Our electronic portfolio continues to evolve and adapt to growing market technologies and trends. What we are launching over the next few months is really amazing and we have got some really exciting products and solutions being developed for next year,” he said.

While remaining innovative is of high importance to Allegion, being part of a global organisation that has strong Australian roots is also integral to the brand, according to Mr Patterson.

“Many global organizations do not have the freedom we have of being agile in the market. Being part of Allegion opens up opportunities to explore different technologies from around the world. In saying this by no means are we getting pushed into launching products if they are not market right. As we went through the pandemic and we were able to rely on a robust global supply chain and logistics network, we had the ability to be quite agile and dynamic on sourcing products, which is a substantial point of difference.”

“The second point of difference is our 50 years of heritage. Gainsborough has been around for a while and is a great Australian based brand. We are now looking at how to evolve the brand, and particularly reflect on how Australians live. Multi-family construction is growing, such as townhouses and apartments. So, we are looking at solutions to these trends and also how the brand supports this,” Mr Patterson said.

When reflecting on the past year, Mr Patterson said it is hard to believe that it was only in January this year that everyone was discussing a virus in Wuhan, China and by March most of the country was working from home.

“During this time, it was a huge benefit to be part of a larger, global organization where we can tap into manufacturing sites around the world. Our team did an amazing job making sure we were COVID safe and putting implementations in place long before a lot of others were really clamping down on this. This was by purely dealing with the global teams and taking lessons on how they coped with the virus,” Mr Patterson said.

“When it comes to sales, initially we were expecting the worst but this did not eventuate. While there have been restrictions, it seems chippies just seem to find a way to work through this and get their work done, as well as our customers. The Australian government also really stepped up and put a lot of investment into construction during this time.”

“The pandemic has also given us some foresight into the economy. In the early days people were saying housing construction could drop by 30 per cent in Q3, but businesses continued to operate and the demand and supply was there. It has affected procedures but I think it has also made us a better business,” Mr Patterson said.

The pandemic also gave Allegion time to reflect on the business and how to operate more efficiently, as well as be a bit more dynamic.

“We acted very quickly in making changes to ensure we had a viable business moving forward which has put us in good stead for the next five years. We also found ways to operate more efficiently. This time last year we essentially had three businesses operating individually including, Brio, Allegion and Gainsborough. We really wanted to go on a path that would make it easier to do business with us, particularly when we had three sets of sales teams calling on our customers, three sets of invoices and three sets of customer services teams. We wanted to be a company that people felt comfortable to do business with.”

“We were going through these changes anyhow but the pandemic made us look at how we could make ourselves easier to do business with. We initially made changes with our distribution to make sure we were keeping with pace and safe for drop offs and deliveries. We also looked at our product range and we are making it simpler, including delivering what the market wants and supporting our customers by making it easier for them to work with us,” Mr Patterson said.

Allegion had particularly strong supply chains heading into the pandemic, including decent stock in Australia which saw the company through this time. 

“The biggest concern during this time was with logistics. This was because a lot of businesses found sea freight and air freight capacity was cut and this flowed on into internal logistics, and getting around the states in a timely manner. We just worked closely with our partners to make sure we had continued supply and we also changed our strategy to ensure that we had products for our customers,” he said.

“It was also strange talking to different states who were all at different maturity levels of the pandemic. So, there were different restrictions that we were dealing with and we just had to adapt with online training, launching new products digitally and continuing to do things a little differently,” he said,

Despite the pandemic, competition remains fierce in the safety and security market, however Mr Patterson believes that consumers are always on the look-out for a quality product when it comes to securing their homes.

“There is always going to be some consumers in the market who are happy to pay $10 or $15 for a deadbolt and this is just how the market is. When it comes to the front door, people are willing to invest more in security. When it comes to internal door furniture, I think they are looking more for a point of difference and also the brand,” he said.

“The market is very competitive. You have a couple of strong brands out there and there are always new entrants to the market and other companies that are looking at hardware as a tack on to fill out their portfolio. The challenge for us in the coming years is we know manufacturers in China are looking at new markets. We noticed this in the 2008 GFC when some of the traditional markets started to dry up and potentially North America or Europe went into a recession. Depending on how well the Australian market is doing they might identify that as a growth market for them and I cannot imagine it is going to get any less competitive over the coming years,” Mr Patterson said.

For now, Allegion continues to work consistently developing innovative digital smart products and is looking forward to 2021 with plans to launch several new products that will no doubt be game changing for the safety and security market.

“Allegion acquired the Gainsborough brand two years ago and since this time the increased effort that we have put into our marketing, research and development will pay dividends next year and our channel partners will definitely benefit from this. We have a lot to look forward and we are pretty comfortable with the way 2021 will pan out for us,” Mr Patterson said.

Delf drives market with quality, style and innovation 

The Australian safety and security market continues to be driven by quality, stylish and innovative products this year, with modern, black designs remaining particularly popular throughout 2020.

Delf General Manager, Peter Crossley recently spoke with AHJ, and said meeting the needs of a modern lifestyle, as well as the integration of advanced technology in products, where appropriate, remains a high priority for consumers.

“While we have not seen any evidence that an increased fear in crime statistics is leading to a spike in security sales, what we have seen is that the high demand for black hardware continues to dominate. Delf has responded to this demand by expanding its line-up of quality, well-styled, ‘Matt Black’ door hardware across our ranges this year, including levers, deadbolts and accessories for internal and external doors,” Mr Crossley said.

“Customers are also looking for ranges that can be mixed and matched throughout the home, with door hardware now being developed as a design feature in its own right, rather than being merely a functional ‘add on’ or afterthought,” he said. 

High-tech products are also creating an interest point in the market, moving forward, particularly when it comes to the secure access of external doors coupled with modern convenience, according to Mr Crossley. 

“That said, not every door needs a technology locking focus, nor does every consumer want this type of lock. We believe understanding the different doors on a home, what they are used for and giving our customers a full range of quality options to suit their style and security needs, as well as knowing that every customer is different, which means traditional locks and other door hardware will always have their place,” Mr Crossley said.

“In saying this, integrated and high-tech smart home security, including Bluetooth locks, is a rapidly developing area, which is why Delf is offering its customers some of the most advanced automated smart home security solutions on the market,” he said.

Just one of these solutions includes Delf’s recently released DDL120 Digital Smart Lock. The new lock is part of Delf’s Smart Home range and is currently being snapped up by new home builders and consumers looking for the convenience and security offered by timed access and control, according to Mr Crossley.

“The new DDL120 Digital Smart Lock is operated using an easy-to-use and easy-to-program touchpad. It includes Bluetooth unlock functions with key override (TE2), while up to 150 electronic keys may be generated. The DDL120 is an integral part of Delf’s technologically advanced, scalable smart home system which takes modern security convenience to the next level, whether it be used as a stand-alone system or paired with a user’s existing appliance brands and technology,” Mr Crossley said.

While the new DDL120 Digital Smart Lock delivers functionality, the high quality of the product also remains of utmost importance. Retailers and consumers need to be reminded of just how significantly safety and security products can vary in quality and standards, Mr Crossley said.

“Retailers and consumers should always do their due diligence, particularly when it comes to electronic locks for a front door, but this also extends to full ranges of door hardware. Delf is a trusted name in the Australian market and we guarantee our quality. The same cannot be said for some other brands including ‘no name’ electronic locks which often do not work consistently as required and do not stand the test of time,” he said.

Delf’s recently released DDL120 Digital Smart Lock is operated using an easy-to-use and easy-to-program touchpad.

When reflecting on the ‘year that was’ and discussing how the pandemic impacted business for Delf, Mr Crossley said that when the pandemic hit at the beginning of the year, Delf’s stock was in a strong position which stood the business in good stead. 

“In saying this the mandatory closure of factories for a number of months along with delays in freight did require working around in some cases. There has been a significant renewed focus on increasing manufacturing generally (across many different industries) on Australian soil to sure up product supply since the pandemic,” he said.

“Changing manufacturing arrangements needs to be more than just a strategic initiative, however, and there are often many practicalities involved, including specialised tooling in the case of the door hardware market. So, in the short-term there are probably few changes that have yet to occur in
this regard.”

“Despite the compulsory closure of factories in many countries, during the initial stages, along with delays in freight, our supply of door hardware to our customers has not been significantly impacted due to Delf’s initial stock position and efforts to work closely with overseas suppliers to minimise disruptions.”

“In the few cases where products have run low, or run out, we have so far managed the situation and supplied alternative lines where feasible. There is definitely more of a return to normal in terms of supply. Possibly as we get better at managing the ‘new normal’ and what is required, every month there will be less and less issues and delays experienced. We are confident we will be able to continue to supply our customers’ requirements in a timely manner,” Mr Crossley said.

Despite the lengthy lockdown in Melbourne, Delf was also very fortunate to continue operating, particularly as its Perth office and distribution centre worked at full capacity during this time ensuring Delf had the on-going ability to fulfil orders at a good level country-wide.

Mr Crossley also pointed out that having a great team across the country has also been instrumental during this time, and the team’s cooperation and dedication in working together to be COVID safe, while keeping the business running despite the challenges faced, has been key. 

“We are a small, keen, lean and tight-knit team with many years of combined experience in the door hardware market. Furthermore, as a long-standing Australian business that has built up a trusted brand in the marketplace for more than 30 years, we have had a whole lot of time to listen to our customers and develop our range and we continue to do this. We now have over 2000 products in our range and together with a reliable supply chain as well as smart and innovative products, we are continually working to ensure our point of difference is what our customers need,” he said.

“The pandemic has of course put a lot of strain on some companies which has necessarily changed their approach in some cases and the look of the marketplace, but what has not changed is the market’s competitive nature. We continue to uphold the strategy, which drives all our development and operations, that having quality products that meet customer needs along with reliable support and distribution, are what is needed to thrive and survive in the current competitive marketplace,” Mr Crossley said.

Fortunately for Delf, not only has the businesses not noticed a drop off in demand throughout the pandemic, but some lines have increased significantly in demand.

“No doubt there will be some effects felt into 2021, but exactly what this will look like is hard to anticipate. However, we are quietly confident given the current continuing demand across the country for Delf’s products,” Mr Crossley said.

Looking ahead to 2021, Mr Crossley said while there may be a slight delay in new product releases due to the pandemic, Delf has a pipeline of new products set for release over the next 12 months that are well positioned to meet the needs of the market.

Personal security grows throughout pandemic

Demand for security has remained relatively robust throughout the pandemic, according to Mayo Hardware Product Manager Sean Devlin-Look, who said strong demand was particularly evident in the traditional high-to-maximum security padlock segment. 

Consumers sourcing peace of mind with high quality products during the pandemic, has seen products such as the Master Lock Excell and Magnum padlocks increase in popularity.

When it comes to manufacturing, there has been a greater demand on those accelerating sub-categories, like the traditional general purpose to maximum security padlocks, cables and chains. In saying this, there has definitely been strains on manufacturing and supply during this time, Mr Devlin-Look said.

“Supply has also been heavily affected by the region or country the products are manufactured in. Countries have their own regulations and limitations on social distancing whereby limiting the amount of staff available per shift in the factory, warehouse, or office.”

“A good example of reduced capacity impact is quality control processes. Any reputable brand has set processes along the production line to ensure quality is maintained. Quality control requires an incredible amount of human resources, with limited staff members allowed per shift. The production output per shift is naturally lower, which increases lead-times across all manufacturing and supply channels,” Mr Devlin-Look said.

In these times of uncertainty, it has become evident that consumers crave peace of mind, according to Mr Devlin-Look, who said particularly with more people at home wanting to protect their most expensive assets.

“Consumers have also moved their businesses to their homes, so protecting their livelihoods like their technology, tools and other assets has become important. It is for this reason that consumers are willing to pay for quality security products to ensure peace of mind. Hence, the increased demand of maximum-security padlocks like Master Lock Excell and Magnum padlocks, which feature octagonal boron carbide shackles, near impossible to cut,” Mr Devlin-Look said.

“Bike locks and bike security is another sub-category to accelerate during the pandemic due to gyms being closed, or limited in numbers, which led to larger numbers of consumers exercising in public areas, either walking or riding their bikes as families or recreational groups. So the need to protect their personal property grew,” Mr Devlin-Look said.

On the flip side, sub-categories relating to travelling, such as luggage and bag travel security, retracted almost overnight.

“We are only just starting to see some positive signs in this space now as borders start to re-open and local travel has become very popular. I would suggest the popularity of local travel will continue through the Australian summer and autumn of 2021,” he said.