What’s an access control system?

Many businesses use access control systems to control who is allowed to enter their premises. Here, we take a closer look at access control systems, highlight the key features and benefits and show you how to choose the right one for your business needs.

Many businesses use access control systems to control who is allowed to enter their premises.

They play an essential role in protecting your staff and visitors, reducing theft and helping you meet your health and safety compliance obligations.

Access control systems can range in complexity, with a simple lock and key system at one end of the scale, right the way up to a sophisticated electronic control system that provides a greater degree of security and control and can integrate with your other operations.

Electronic access control systems can be installed as standalone units to protect a single point of entry or networked across multiple buildings and sites but controlled by a single system. Systems that use numerical keypads, key fobs/cards or biometrics (such as fingerprint, retina or facial recognition) are becoming more common.

They can help you gain complete visibility of who is visiting your site, which staff are on or off your premises and if any unauthorised people are trying to gain access, to help keep your people, premises and property safe and secure.

Here, we take a closer look at access control systems, highlight the key features and benefits and show you how to choose the right one for your business needs.

How to choose the right access control system for your business

Every business has a duty of care to protect their people and assets while allowing visitors to move freely in the areas they need to access.

Access control offers a secure, convenient and flexible way to control who has access to your building, where they can enter or exit, and when.

However, with a wide range of different access control systems available, choosing the one that’s right for your business can be challenging.

If you’re thinking of investing in access control, there are several things to consider.

The location, times of access and level of security you require will all play a big part in determining the system that will best suit your needs.

Times of access is a crucial consideration, as many businesses and buildings have lots of visitors. You may not need to limit access to your main entrance or reception area but have internal access points controlled by an electronic system to keep unauthorised visitors from entering.

You’ll also need to consider your operational activities and the value and sensitivity of the property or assets that need protecting. Some businesses only allow certain people to access certain areas, such as server rooms, information storage, or potentially hazardous environments, such as chemical or heavy plant/equipment stores.

The different types of access control system

There are many different types of access control systems to choose from, and what you need it for will often determine which system you choose. They include:

Lock & key

A lock and key system is the simplest form of access control, with keys issued only to authorised keyholders, who take responsibility for keeping the premises locked and secure.

The advantages are that a lock & key system prevents any unauthorised persons without a key from entering your premises. The drawback, however, is that a keyholder must be present to lock and unlock the doors, or they remain locked or unlocked.

Keyholder is a responsible role, so you need to be able to trust who you authorise fully. And, if a set of keys gets mislaid, lost or stolen, all your locks may need to be replaced, which can prove costly.


An intercom system requires visitors to press a button and announce who they are to an authorised operator such as a security guard or receptionist, who will then decide if they are allowed to enter. These systems are perfect for firms that have very few visitors or don’t have a full-time reception area. You can get audio or video intercom systems. The latter allows the operator to see who the person asking for access is before letting them in.

Keypad systems

With this type of system, electronic keypads are located at access points and require the employee or visitor to enter a PIN code to gain access.

With this type of system, it’s essential to regularly change the PIN and issue it only to people you trust, as this information can easily be passed on to unauthorised visitors over time. 

Key fob/card systems

These systems operate using an electronic reader located at each access point, which can be opened when the visitor presents an electronic card or fob.

The advantage these have over keypad systems is they give your business greater control over who has cards or fobs, and you can also track which card/fob has been used to gain access.

Newer systems can also be operated by a smartphone app or a Bluetooth-enabled device.

This type of system can be integrated with other networked systems, such as time/attendance tracking, fire safety and CCTV, to help you track things like employee absence, productivity, and health & safety compliance.


Biometric access control systems are increasing in popularity and are becoming more affordable and cost-effective. They can be operated using the unique characteristics of an employee or visitor, such as their voice, fingerprint, face or eye pattern.

Biometric access control systems dramatically reduce the risk of unauthorised people entering your building and give you greater control over your staff and visitor safety and security. 

All our Access Control Systems are designed and installed to meet current British and European Standards. We can provide advice on the most suitable access control system design to suit your operational needs.

To discover more about the benefits of access control for your business, contact us today to arrange a free, no-obligation quotation.


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