By November 6, 2014 Read More →

A wholesaler’s guide to access control

Bio Access Finger print readerAccess control in any building is integral to the security of the people and property within it, regardless of what door entry system is installed, writes ROB SANDS, Technical Director or Videx. Whether it’s a coded keypad, a proximity fob reader or a type of biometric reader, installers really need to ensure they implement an appropriate access control system that meets the unique needs of that specific building…

It’s vital that wholesalers understand and share the right kind of knowledge about the access control products they’re selling to installers so that the right systems are purchased and put in place.

The choice of door entry and access control products on the market is vast and it is important to know which of these products tick all the boxes for installers, i.e. a wholesaler’s customer. A customer’s expectation of what the product can do is normally high so it is important to know that the system is flexible and can be customised to suit a particular customer’s needs – some of which may not become apparent until after the product has been sold and installed.

Wholesalers sell many different systems across a range of product categories so it’s essential to rely on the manufacturer’s knowledge so that their customers can make the right choice. For this to work, the manufacturers must have a strong support structure in place and provide the right tools to the wholesaler to make their job easier.

One such tool offered by Videx is the Product Builder. This software tool enables the wholesaler to prepare a quotation for their customer based on a number of simple steps and questions. The detailed quote that it produces would then include all product codes, prices, photos, diagrams and manuals. It is a simple yet really effective way to ensure the wholesaler is imparting the right, and most relevant, knowledge to the installer.

Usually, an installer will go into a wholesaler, already knowing which door entry manufacturer they would prefer to use. However, they may not know of the latest systems available from that manufacturer or be aware of product updates that may have occurred since they last installed a similar system. This is why it’s crucial that the wholesaler knows about the latest developments of the various different systems that are available in today’s market.

There are many ways that this can be achieved. For example, the manufacturer’s sales manager would normally have regular visits with the wholesaler to keep them abreast of new products and improvements and also to check if they need any help with anything. Wholesalers are also a good source of feedback to the manufacturer and enable them to design the products of tomorrow. Making sure they are on the manufacturer’s mailing and newsletter list is also important as this will ensure they are one of the first to hear about new products.

Product information 4000 Series Videx Intercom Door  Panel

Promotional material from the manufacturer, such as literature and demo equipment, which the wholesaler can put on display in their trade counter or showroom, is also a good source of information for their customers who may come into the trade counter for something completely unrelated but notice these products and know where to come if a requirement arises in the future. At the same time, it allows the engineer to see and get a feel for a product which you can’t always do when viewing products on a website.

For installers who are not totally sure of the type of system they require, it is essential that the wholesaler asks the right questions so that they can provide the right solution. Asking the right questions can sometimes highlight a consideration the installer hadn’t previously thought of. Not asking the right questions can result in the wrong system being provided causing extra cost to both the installer and the wholesaler.

Something like the Product Builder tool helps to ensure the right questions are asked and helps to provide the wholesaler with peace of mind that they have specified the right system. If a more complex installation is required, wholesalers should be able to go to their manufacturers for support.

For example, Videx has a team of estimators that can be called upon for such installations and can provide a quick turn around on an estimate. It’s important therefore that the wholesaler knows they can rely on that manufacturer to be able to provide this service.

Knowing which products to stock can be difficult. For some simpler products, such as kits, the customer may expect to be able to call in and collect without notice. For the more complex systems, it is normally accepted that the product will need to be ordered or come directly from the manufacturer and so it is important that the wholesaler knows they can rely on that manufacturer to be able to provide this service. Videx offer a one to two day service on many of its product lines while bespoke products will normally take a little longer.

Surface codelock with back lit keysRegulations

As a wholesaler, it’s crucial that you are aware of, and have a good knowledge of, the main issues that affect installers when fitting door entry systems. The installer will normally have a good understanding of the regulations involved in installing door entry and access control systems but the wholesaler must also understand this and keep abreast of changes and new regulations.

An example of a recent initiative is ‘Secured by Design’ which is the official UK Police flagship initiative supporting the principles of designing out crime. Videx offers a range of products which have been tested and passed this standard. The wholesaler can also contact the manufacturer if they are not sure about something so it’s wise to have a good working relationship with the relevant contacts within a company and be able to get a quick response to any query.

Wholesalers might also need to be able to provide the necessary cabling for the systems that they sell to installers. It’s vital, therefore, that wholesalers know the cable type needed and the distance limitations of the cable for a given system. This can sometimes be complicated and seeking advice from the manufacturer is always preferred.

An issue which has become increasingly apparent in the last few years is the need to know the difference between solid copper and copper coated cables. In most instances, solid copper must be used on door entry and access control systems due to the need for these cables to carry current and have a low voltage drop.

Copper coated cables such as copper coated steel (CCS) or copper coated aluminium (CCA) may look attractive when comparing their price between that and solid copper, will have a much higher resistance and therefore will suffer from much greater voltage drop than a solid copper cable. Not knowing this difference can prove costly in the event the system is unable to function correctly due to voltage drop. When purchasing cable it is always prudent to obtain a specification sheet to ensure the cable meets the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Ultimately, the most important role that wholesalers can play is one where they provide and share the right knowledge, information and facts to installers to enable them to make informed decisions about the right systems for the right specifications. By imparting the right advice and guidance in the decision making process, wholesalers will not only be able to ensure the right system is sold but can also win the confidence and trust of installers thus creating a long lasting, mutually beneficial business relationship.