Metal Keys Costs vs Digital Keys Costs

By Steve Dunn August 2020 

For centuries metal keys and locks have been a part of our lives. Metal Keys have been around for over 2000 years, since they were first invented by the ancient Romans. Of course metal keys are mostly about providing us with security and protection. No one wants to live or work in a place that does not have doors and locks and metal keys, right?

 

Other than securing people, metal keys and locks can also secure 'things'. For example metal keys can secure filing cabinets, tools in your shed, tennis courts, or electrical cabinets/boxes on the outside of your homes and on the street. In the case of the filing cabinets, they could be protecting confidential employees files; with the tennis court gates they might restrict access to members only; in your shed you may be protecting expensive ride-on lawnmowers. Or in the case of electrical boxes they need to be secured with padlocks to stop people opening them and playing with them. We don't want kids putting fingers in electrical sockets, and we don't want vandals unplugging our electricity and causing havoc. Actions and steps must be taken to prevent theft, and to prevent unsafe and unauthorised access.

 

Imagine you have hundreds or even thousands of these cabinets, gates, sheds, boxes, rooms which need to be accessed on a regular basis by many different people. Local councils, retail chains, electricity companies, water meter companies, hotel groups and care outreach companies (e.g for nurses) and are just some examples of organisations that manage thousands of metal keys on a daily basis. The people that need regular access to your thousands of metal keys and locks could be contractors, technicians, couriers, staff or members. Your people might need once off access a couple of times a year, or they may need to access different sites weekly or daily.  And to access the 'things' protected by metal keys these people often must pick up the metal keys from a head office location, and then drop the keys off when they are finished with them. If the keys aren't returned other people won't be able to get access.

 

Also you don't want 'your people' to have their own copies of metal keys either - they could easily make a copy in a couple of minutes for a few dollars at your local hardware store, and give the keys to themselves or others providing unauthorised access/control at anytime.

 

Now imagine you manage 10,000 metal keys for 10,000 different cabinets, boxes, gates, etc - how much time and money do you think it costs in total to manage all those metal keys? How much time does it cost for all your staff driving back and forth across town everyday to pick up metal keys from head office and returning them at the end of the day? How much petrol/gas money does this cost for your staff to pick up and drop off the metal keys? What happens if they key is lost or if someone does not return the key for a few weeks? The locks would need to be replaced. How much does it cost for someone to go out and replace the locks? How much does it cost to know that the locks are still on site and working (you need to pay people to do regular site visits and inspections).

 

The cost for managing metal keys to 10,000 cabinets, boxes, gates, rooms can be enormous. Returning to the hotel example, we conducted a survey to dozens of hotel managers of between 30-60 rooms, and they told us 'hardly a week would go by, where they do not have to replace atleast one lock in their rooms from guests who have lost keys'. Sometimes it can be 2 or 3 lock replacements a week. For example if you have a hotel of 60 rooms and you are giving out 2 metal keys daily, then that can be up to 700 or 800 metal key distributions a week. So all you need is one out of those 700 or so distributions a week to lose their metal key, and then you incur replacement costs. 

We carried out a cost benefit analysis for managing metal key locks vs managing digital key locks in 10,000 properties. This analysis was carried out only for the 'maintenance of the metal keys vs the maintenance of digital keys'.

 

In the analysis below you can see a Return of Investment (ROI) coming in less than 4 months to replace metal keys with digital keys. We did not even need to go beyond the maintenance aspect of the cost benefit analysis into the 'day to day management cost benefit analysis', as the results just for maintenance alone were so overwhelming.

With digital keys, you'll never have to make anyone ever drive across town or go anywhere to pick up their key again. Authorised users can simply download a digital key to their phone in seconds.  The digital key can also be time-limited and set to schedules, so that users and managers don't have to make various digital keys all the time. Also a digital key can never be lost, and you will never need to replace locks. Digital Keys can be deleted online in lock management software in seconds. Also you won't need to inspect the site either. Your NB IoT smartlock that the digital key works for is connected to the internet with its own unique IP address  - meaning you can track its location; you can get tampering alerts if anyone attempts to break in; and you will always know who accessed that lock at what time. With digital keys you can control, manage and maintain your cabinets, gates, boxes, and rooms remotely and take advantage of significant cost savings.

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