When Codelocks began trading in 1990, the digital world was a very different place. Mobile technology was still in its infancy, with the iPhone some 17 years away; as was the World Wide Web, with its 3 million users compared to the 3.5 billion users today.
The access control market was also an analogue affair. Locks were nothing more than mechanical fastening devices that were released by keys.
Things have changed beyond recognition. The digital revolution has swept through every strand of our social fabric. There is virtually no industry that has not had to reinvent itself in order to remain competitive.
At Codelocks, we've not only embraced this technological evolution - we've put it at the very heart of everything we do.
This started with a range of innovations in coded locks. We then moved onto smart locks and in 2013, we introduced NetCode - a solution capable of generating time sensitive codes to be used with our locks. Last year, we introduced an Application Programming Interface (API), allowing our customers to integrate NetCode with their internal systems.
Group Operations Manager, Martin Clayton has been with Codelocks since 2011 and now leads the research and development team. He is the original architect behind the NetCode system.
"The API was built about two years ago and went live with customers around 18 months ago," he explains. "It started off as an internal R&D project, but now, far more customers use the API than the portal and it has arguably become the most important component for customers using NetCode today."
What's next? An interconnected world
When the Internet of Things gets mentioned, it's usually in reference to consumer electronics - lighting systems talking to fridges and so on. But behind this consumer-focused buzzword, there is a real shift taking place - one with profound implications for our industry and many others. Interoperability is becoming vital to the success of all technology driven solutions. Gone are the days of proprietary systems, closed off from the world. In order to thrive, technology needs to play nice with everything else around it.
Ensuring interoperability and building a network of technology partners will be a key objective for Codelocks' R&D team in the months and years ahead.
One such integration is with Acuity. This US-based company provides online booking capabilities to companies without their own in-house systems. From booking, through to payment, Acuity provides a first-class scheduling system to over 50,000 businesses around the world.
Codelocks has selected Acuity to provide a fully automated solution for our customers.
"When the booking is made and paid for, Acuity sends an automatic notification to our system. Our system responds with a NetCode via email," explains Martin. "This combination of technologies provides customers with an end to end automated access control and booking system. By providing integrations with companies like Acuity, we are able to expand the capabilities of our locks in order to provide complete solutions for our customers."
Codelocks is also looking at ways to make its existing technology more interoperable.
"Our original electronic locks have always had two ports enabling access control or alarm input signals," Martin explains. "The ports are not widely used by customers due to installation challenges and so we began thinking about how we could repurpose these ports to better meet customer needs."
"We are able to change the behaviour of these connectors through our software and this opens up new possibilities for interfacing with third party technology. Inside almost every alarm panel, for example, there is a signalling board. These boards connect to 3G or a phone line and when something happens to the alarm panel, the board sends a signal through to the alarm receiving centre. Almost all signalling boards have the ability to detect the falling edge signal that our locks produce."
"This means that access control and CCTV systems can now tap into the activity of our locks. It's just one small step to wider integration with other technologies," he adds.
The future is bright
Research and development has become the lifeblood of our work here at Codelocks. We believe that if we are to remain at the forefront of our industry, we must continue to innovate and push the boundaries of what a lock is capable of.
This evolution extends beyond R&D. We are no longer just a lock manufacturer, but a solutions provider. As such, we have made sure that we have the infrastructure and support mechanisms in place to look after our customers well after the point of sale.
We have lots of exciting projects cooking away in our research facility and plenty of announcements to make over the coming months. Watch this space!
13, Apr 2017