Remote electric locking security can be effective and attractive

October 27, 2021


Aesthetics can still be a priority, even in security applications. Electronic locking functionality is no exception, especially in ultra-modern buildings and contemporary commercial premises where the appearance of walls of glass and all-glass doors is part of the appeal. However, it is also a factor in historic buildings that need to be retrofitted with unobtrusive access control and security technology.

Surrey-based Magnet Schultz Ltd (MSL) is a UK leader in precision-engineered solenoid actuated systems. Among the company’s extensive range of electric locking actuator solutions are bespoke designs for special applications. Often, a development project will originate from a specific customer application that requires robust and dependable actuator technology. This is part of the MSL business model: to develop special-purpose solutions using its 50+ years of engineering expertise and rapid-prototyping resources for a specific application and then to make that solution available to the market.

One such application is electric locking technology to secure glass doors. In particular, pairs of toughened glass doors that often feature no metal surround, which are commonly deployed in the entranceways of prestigious premises. This all-glass styling is visually attractive – and great for letting in light – but imposes limits to the options of how to lock a pair of doors; this was a challenge faced by MSL’s engineering team for general remote-locking security requirements as well as critical rapid emergency lockdown functionality at Edinburgh University’s 19th Century Old College building, which is the campus reception.

With no fixings permitted on the glass door panels, the optimum solution was deemed a floor-mounted locking system but this had to be discreet and present no obstacles or trip-hazards in a busy university entranceway. MSL developed its now widely used Floor Lock. The system comprises a tray mounted beneath the floor containing a solenoid that actuates through a 90-degree crank mechanism to operate a single, vertical stainless-steel pin of 15mm diameter. With two floor locks operating in tandem, a pair of pins rise from the floor each side of the door when closed.

The 90-degree crank mechanism serves not only to keep the subassembly’s profile slim to minimise the sub-floor mounting depth, but also allows Magnet Schultz to deploy its patented ‘anti-jacking’ deadlock technology. With the stainless-steel locking pin not actuating in the same plane as the solenoid, moments of force endured by pressing down on the pin (by foot or even sledgehammer) are not transferred to the solenoid, whose closed (locked) position might otherwise be overcome. Instead, at the point of actuation, the locking pin is secured in place by MSL’s robust deadlock design and thereby remains impervious to applied force.

For the application at Edinburgh University, eight Floor Lock assemblies provide security for two sets of twin glass doors in the Old College entranceway. When unlocked, the pins simply retract into the floor. The self-closing doors are held open by standard box magnets. Configuring two sets of remotely-locked glass doors gives the staff at the Old College the ability to rapidly close and lock one or both sets from the reception area. An emergency button located on the reception desk releases the door holding box magnets and actuates the floor locks. With campus security high on the agenda at colleges and universities around the country, this provides confidence and reassurance in the event of undesirable persons seeking access – or even egress. In fact, it would be possible to confine intruders between the two sets of doors at Edinburgh University and hold them until security assistance arrives.

Of course, there are other factors to consider in the design of a sub-floor mounted assembly. Although installed flush to the floor with its vertical locking pins operating through lip seals to restrict the ingress of debris and moisture into the assembly tray below, some contamination over time is inevitable in a busy walkway. The Floor Lock therefore features Magnet Schultz’s IP65 rated solenoids tested to two million operations. This type of configuration is more typically used in submersible actuator applications, so provides a very high degree of ruggedness and a long operational life in this application.

Nonetheless, as security professionals will know, locking technology such as MSL’s Floor Lock is subject to stringent security certifications in many applications, which invariably dictate documented service intervals and regular testing. To that end, Magnet Schultz Ltd provides a service solution to ensure operational integrity. The Floor Lock maintenance programme is tailored to each customer’s installation and service requirements. MSL field engineers will swap-out Floor Locks on-site, in rotation with identical assemblies held as part of the programme. Removed assemblies are returned to the company’s engineering support specialists in Surrey for service and calibration, then held in the customer’s maintenance programme for the next service rotation. It means that locking functionality, access control and security are not compromised while the units are serviced.

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