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Master Key Systems

Master Keyed suiting systems can be provided including any variations with Sub Master groups to any client requirements.

Keyed Alike System

A Keyed Alike System is a simple system that involves one key which can open all the locks in the system.

Master Keyed System

A Master Keyed System is traditionally a system in which the locks can all be operated with different keys as well as one single key, called the Grand Master Key.  There are three main different types of keys, each type giving different levels of access.

  • A Grand Master Key is a key that can open all locks in the suite/system.
  • A Sub Master Key is a key that can open a specific group of doors within the suite e.g. for a single floor.
  • A Differ Key is a key that can only open one door within a suite.

In a modern Master Keyed System, as it is possible for doors to be operated by more than one key, it is, therefore, possible to eliminate most if not all Differ Keys.

Typically, only one key is required per person, and by eliminating unnecessary keys this reduces the initial cost of the system and the ongoing running costs.

Stocks of keys can also be held for immediate issues as there are typically fewer different key types for the entire system.

The Elimination of the Grand Master Key

The Grand Master Key is the key in a traditional system that controls every door in the suite/building.  This is a convenient feature for the Grand Master Keyholder that does, however, make the system vulnerable because the threat to the security of losing a Grand Master Key is so great.

In some systems, Grand Master Keys are often issued more than normal because they are either replacements for a lost key or are provided for convenience to users that need to access multiple areas of the building.

The Grand Master Key can therefore greatly impact the security of the suiting system and we, therefore, recommend that it is not provided with the system.

Combining a Master Key System with an Electronic Access Control System

Depending on the requirements of the building, Access Control systems can be integrated with the Master Keying requirements incorporating Electric Strikes, Magnetic Locks and Card Readers.

The benefits this can provide include: having an override when an Access Control pass is missing; providing security in the event of a power failure; and easily meeting fire escape requirements.

Matching Keys to User Groups

The keys within the system are linked to groups of users who have identical access requirements rather than through their geographic location within the building.

The first step is to consider the users that will use each department/building.

The users could be organised into groups such as:-

  • Tenants
  • FM – Cleaners
  • Admin Staff
  • Building Managers

Each of the user groups identified is allocated a Key.  There may be occasions where a number of user groups are allocated access to the same areas under their Key.  For example, several different Tenant Companies occupying a building may have access under their Key to shared Entrance Doors, Kitchen & Meeting Room areas, whilst only being able to open their own Office Doors and not those of other companies under their Key.

Each door within the building is then assessed in relation to which of the Keys require access and the Master Keyed Cylinders are built to suit these requirements.

Using a lock chart you can plan which Keys should operate which mechanically controlled doors. Where an X intersects the Key and the door, the Key will operate.

An exception to the rule is usually made for FM keys which often operate all FM type doors across the entire building.  This allows maintenance and cleaning activities to be carried out as easily as possible.

Differ Keys for Special Rooms

It is recommended that keys to operate one lock only should be kept to a minimum to allow sophisticated control keying as detailed above. Differ Keys should be limited to ‘Special Rooms’ for example, cash rooms and medical records. These doors are usually issued with a key that operates that door alone (and no other) and the issuing of keys should be limited. These doors are usually only operable by the Differ Key and the Grand Master Key.

System Design

The design process will result in the creation of a Master Key system for a building. The key system will ultimately determine how the users interact within the building; the process does therefore require a high level of participation from the building user group.

It is important that the design process is started early enough in the project to allow a reasonable time for consultation, manufacture, and installation.

For assistance with arranging a Master Keyed System please get in touch. | 0161 927 9292


On Key

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