Door Hardware Headaches: Some Things Never Change


Security Concept

With all the new technology we have at our fingertips today, it is still the field hardware that seems to cause the most challenges in project development and installation. Even though it is not my most valuable skill nor is it my favorite activity, I’m pretty sure I could retire quite wealthy if project managers would just hire me to review and correct door hardware schedules for their card access control applications. Part of the challenge is that there are usually at least 5 trades involved in construction of the access control doors; architect, security, door hardware, construction, electrical, and sometimes even a low-voltage contractor. Additionally, the door hardware seldom is available from a single manufacturer or supplied through a single vendor. An experienced security contractor typically has the best handle on coordination, but many times they are not engaged until most of the hardware is already purchased. Unfortunately, unless someone who really understands how everything fits together gets involved early on, most issues end up getting resolved through change order, after change order, or at the end of the project.

While some manufacturers have good tools to help piece applications together, they are limited to their own products. The biggest asset to effective door configuration always starts with a Sequence of Operation that addresses how the door is expected to work to meet the operational and security needs. Even that takes a certain skill to understand and document all the functional aspects of more complex door assemblies. From the SOO, the proper hardware and installation can be specified and detailed. Of course, aesthetics, finishes and construction techniques always play a part and will limit the hardware and vice versa. There is always a trade-off between looks and operation that should be determined early on in project design.

There are many aspects of door configuration that have to be considered, such as codes, swing, handing, latching mechanism, egress requirements, wire routing, power supplies, frame and door type, sensor placement, etc., etc. Just about the time you think you have everything all figured out, a new building code pops up and your back to the drawing board. Those details affect the plans and materials provided by each of the contractors involved in a project. Doors and frames are prepped from the factory for the hardware to be installed.  Conduit is run to the rough-in location of devices.  Locking hardware is ordered to meet the design and security equipment is configured to control the hardware.  If you don’t get the details right to start with, project costs can quickly get out of hand resolving them during construction. All this discussion to show one example where engagement of a security consultant such as Advanced Security Consulting will likely save money and time on the overall project, and will definitely reduce headaches.

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