JEFF BENNETT, commercial leader MEA (Middle East and Africa) and Turkey of Allegion International, lays guidelines to choosing the right hardware for doors.
Door hardware may appear to be a simple choice that can be broken down into three broad factors: appearance, functionality, and cost. However, there should be a much deeper thought process than that of these face value considerations, particularly if you are specifying for multiple buildings, high footfall areas or if you are building in the public sector.
From call outs to wiring, fitting to testing and more, labour costs are one of the largest components of the built environment spend. However, it is one that can be reduced with correct specification.
If you are upgrading the door hardware, try considering electromechanical wireless options. Most electronic locks now run off batteries and communicate wirelessly through routers, so there is less dependence on hard-wiring to building power sources and hubs. Battery life is also no longer a hindering factor as we can now see standard AAA battery-run hardware lasting upwards of 20,000 cycles.
Choosing door furniture and systems that are designed specifically for retrofitting will also cut costs from installation and maintenance. In most cases, all that is required is a simple remove and replace.
Quality over cost
It may be tempting to use products that hold a cheaper ticket price but picking products that are more durable and proven to last longer will eventually save money in the long run.
Cheap products often have poorer performance over quality engineered hardware. Whether that means they have poorer grading standards or are manufactured from less robust materials, it all results in shorter lifecycles.
Door closers and exit devices in education and healthcare facilities are a prime example of this due to the high usage – and sometimes misuse – they are subjected to. Good quality hardware is engineered for such environments, while cheaper hardware isn’t. Consequently, if you choose cheaper hardware, you may be replacing it more regularly, incurring additional labour and purchasing costs.
There are a variety of hidden benefits that well-designed door hardware can bring. Door handles in healthcare facilities will often incorporate active anti-microbial agents to minimise germs spreading and prevent bacteria from growing. On the technology side, digital keyless access systems are also improving with smart technology to meet and exceed consumer expectations. A prime example of this is electromechanical exit devices which marry with digital access control.
This smarter selection process yields costs savings in areas that aren’t directly associated to facilities management. For example, lessening the possibility of germs spreading in schools may lead to a lesser chance of cross-infection and contamination and, thus, less absenteeism.
Two of the biggest issues found in the “Review of Education Capital” by Sebastian James in April 2011 include a “lack of expertise on the client side meant that there was little opportunity to improve building methods in order to lower costs over time”, and “procurement starts with a sum of money rather than with a specification”.
These two issues are stark representations of fundamental flaws that can be easily fixed, not just for the education sector, but across the entire spectrum of the door hardware purchasing process.
When decision makers lack expertise, they often rely on the installer or contractor, who may be working to his own benefit and picking products that are available locally or products that are on offer. Installers and contractors may also be recommending hardware they know and have historically used out of habit, as opposed to looking into other options that may improve the building or extend the lifespan of the product in question.
Procuring on a budget may also prove detrimental, as again a buyer is often blinded by cheap alternatives, rather than having an understanding of the right product at the right cost that could save money in the long term. Consultation with a specialist during the specification stage is often the best method of protecting yourself against these situations.
Another area that must be on the agenda is the issue of future-proofing, especially because the landscape of the built environment is moving in tandem with electronics and digital access. To maximise the value of your hardware in this respect, there should be a long-term plan of how the building will be used in the future.
One of the latest innovations in keyless access is the ability to be able to control doors remotely through internet-enabled devices, which can be particularly useful to universities, student campuses, hospitals and sports stadia. If your building stores and handles sensitive data, then it would be prudent to think about which systems you can upgrade to, plus expand and retrofit in future, with minimum fuss.
With a little planning and advice, your door hardware can start repaying you by being longer lasting and by providing better security, safety and functionality to your building occupants.