Intelligent access for self-service systems

Mar 6, 2012 | Electrical & electronics

The use of advanced access technology means OEM engineers can enhance such products as kiosks, self-service equipment and ATMs.

Now, new materials and manufacturing techniques have antiquated conventional cylinder locks and transformed latches, hinges, handles and levers from purely functional elements to devices that can boost an enclosure’s operation and security.

Intelligent electronic access systems, linked to the system’s software, can provide advanced ‘vending’ functionality. Activated by purchase requests, they can manage complex transactions – beyond simple inventory – that require multiple steps for goods of various dimensions, as well as the return of used stock to the machine. The devices can also control access to enclosures for service and maintenance.

For such applications, the latest generation electronic access systems (EAS) comprise internal and flush-mounted hardware that can help eliminate pry points and resist damage by vandalism. In fact solutions that can shorten the time an enclosure is open will significantly reduce security risks.

For example, some gasketed latches and handles can satisfy NEMA 4 and IP-65 standards for protecting the unit against water and dust penetration. Detent hinges, meanwhile, will hold access panels, doors and cover plates securely open or closed; and constant-torque position-control hinges will securely hold at any desired position in the hinge’s operational arc.

At the heart of the most robust electronic access system is a reliable, electromechanical lock or latch (EML). Ultimately, the EML design influences system electrical requirements, physical security, installation options and the industrial design of the overall system. Today’s EMLs are vandal-resistant devices with built-in intelligence and mechanical override options.

The human interface is an important component of access control, and a variety of devices are available – from simple stand-alone keypads to radio frequency (RF) remote-control systems and sophisticated biometric readers. The EML controls customers’ entry through the software interface, limiting their access to the one compartment or ‘locker’ that contains their purchase. Service personnel have very different requirements and owners can limit their access to specific parts of the system by selecting appropriate devices from a vast array of options.

A remote monitoring or a networked solution is the final piece to a fully electronic access solution, providing an added level of security for sensitive and high-value assets. Each time an EML opens or closes, a signal is sent to a remote monitoring system to confirm and log access, leaving an ‘electronic signature’ and creating an audit trail of the event.

As with any energy-consuming device, efficiency is an area of access control technology for continuous improvement. The goal is to use minimal power while releasing under higher mechanical operating loads and resisting higher mechanically applied loads from vandals. More efficient electro-mechanics have enabled battery-operated solutions that minimise wiring and reliance on separate power supplies.

In addition to providing all relevant information about the status of the locked compartment to remote monitoring locations, optimum security solutions will define the lock’s electronic and physical states as well as data on potential tampering, jam conditions and door closure status.


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