There are very real financial and operational risks if you don’t know who is going where with your keys. A university recently came to us for a physical key management solution after a global master went missing. A locksmith quoted them $500,000 to rekey all of the locks. Even run-of-the-mill vehicle key fobs cost anywhere from $200-500 to replace, which can add up.
Losing keys can also shut down entire workflows that depend on them. When you think about it that way, key management systems aren’t just for security departments. They’re whole-business tools. If you have an electronic key management system to track how employees and contractors use your keys, it transforms them from simple access control tools into sources of real business intelligence.
Let’s see what an electronic key control system looks like and then look at some of the most interesting applications for them that we’ve helped develop.
What is Physical Key Management?
Key management is the collective name for all the business activities involved in securing, tracking, and distributing physical keys. Physical key management systems also control the costs of using physical keys for enterprise-wide access control. They reduce overhead through automation. They also reduce and often eliminate the need for re-keying whole facilities due to key loss or security breaches.
The Core Components of a Smart Key Management System
The Key Cabinets
Different vendors sell various-sized cabinets with different locking methods. The most common are locking hooks or slots. For example, Real Time Networks’ KeyTracer cabinets use circular locking key slots, with the locking mechanism hidden behind the back panel. The slots light up after personnel authenticate themselves, making key removal and return simple.
Key control cabinets come in various sizes with different module options. In one facility, you may have a large number of individual keys you want packed efficiently. But at another location, you may have only a few large key rings that need extra hanging space.
With KeyTracer, the cabinets are accessed using a touchscreen. These can be configured to use several authentication options, including PIN code, RFID fob, swipe card, or biometric sign-ins like a fingerprint, facial scanning, or iris eye scans.
These next two components are where the real power lies. RFID is short-range wireless technology, usually used for machine-to-machine communication. KeyTracer uses passive RFID tags to authenticate the keys with the cabinets for accuracy and accountability. You can add active RFID tags to communicate with sensors distributed throughout your facility using one of our real time location solutions.
Our management software is called RTNHub. It lets you manage everything in a KeyTracer system, including alarms, reports, and personnel access—really, the entire workflow surrounding keys. This flexibility is why our customers have solved such a wide range of problems using KeyTracer systems.
Turn Keys into Business Intelligence — Use Cases
Vice President of Marketing