How keyless access is revolutionising the power industry

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International Security Journal hears from Juan Noriega, Solution Manager, ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions, Critical Infrastructure Business Unit.

Keeping the entire process of supplying power safe has never been more important. Keyless locking solutions offer a versatile way to enhance security for power utilities.

As our society increasingly relies on power, making sure every step of the power supply process is secure has become crucial.

However, the power industry is complex, with power stations and substations spread out across rural areas. This makes it vulnerable to theft and damage.

These incidents can disrupt power supply and result in significant financial losses.

Unauthorised access to places with high voltage equipment and cables can also lead to environmental harm and serious accidents.

While we need to tightly control who can access these places, we also want the process for authorised personnel to be quick and easy.

To address these challenges, a digital access management system is the ideal solution.

Additionally, keyless entry solutions are becoming more popular in critical infrastructure utilities, replacing traditional mechanical systems.

These modern systems offer simplified logistics, cost savings and improved efficiency for the entire power industry, from generating power to distributing it.

Why should power utility operators consider the benefits of keyless locking? Let’s explore the main advantages.

Increasing operational efficiency

Digital technology has opened new ways to ensure security, including secure wireless options.

To meet the challenges faced by our customers, we’ve developed a secure digital key that can be accessed through a mobile app.

This app allows flexible access and the ability to manage user rights, no matter where you are.

In the power industry, this is especially useful for remote areas, busy schedules and emergencies, whether you’re online or offline.

Employees and subcontractors can access the site with their mobile phones without the need to pick up keys.

This simplifies travel and key management, reducing emissions, costs and time.

Meeting regulations and standards

The power industry is responsible for a critical part of the economy, which is why it’s subject to strict security regulations and standards.

In the US, for example, electric utilities must follow the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) standards.

These standards require utilities to have a security plan and program to monitor and control physical access, protecting critical infrastructure and cyber-assets.

This includes keeping records of everyone who accesses these areas, along with the time and date of entry.

A combination of a digital access management system and keyless locks makes following these regulations easy.

Resilience in extreme conditions

Beyond protecting data, keyless locking systems, specifically made for critical infrastructure protection, also withstand harsh weather and conditions often found in rural power stations and substations.

They resist physical attacks and are designed to function in extreme heat, cold, saltwater and dusty environments.

This ensures uninterrupted operation in any circumstances.

Detailed audit trail

Maintaining security in restricted areas with changing users and access points requires a high level of control.

This is important for safety around high voltage equipment and power lines as well as managing access across large properties.

Keyless locking solutions excel in this aspect.

They allow customised access rights and provide a record of all activities, accessible remotely – regardless of time or location.

Minimising vulnerabilities with battery power

When it comes to data reliability, there’s a significant advantage to using battery-operated locks.

Locks with a constant power source have an internal clock, ensuring their date and time settings are always up-to-date.

Locks without a power source tend to lack an internal clock, making them vulnerable to tampering with date and time settings.

For example, the ABLOY BEAT keyless solution includes a clock mechanism, which maintains data integrity even when offline.

Futureproof connectivity with continuous power source

The dynamic nature of battery-based solutions underscores their significance in enhancing security protocols.

While batteries have limited lifespans, their consistent power output enables new scenarios on the IoT. The advantages far outweigh the associated expenses.

Comprehensive monitoring leads to reduced expenditures on false alarms and unnecessary trips, effectively streamlining costs while safeguarding the environment against carbon dioxide emissions.

The ability to remotely access and control battery-powered locks through gateway devices significantly amplifies their effectiveness in enhancing situational awareness.

How do digital access solutions pay off?

Security is a critical aspect of vital infrastructure.

When considering new locking solutions, the efficiency of access management can greatly impact the investment’s success.

As businesses plan their budgets, it’s essential to consider the cost of investment versus the returns.

Opting for a cheaper solution might seem like a smart choice initially, but it could lead to inadequate security and a lack of technical support.

Neglecting potential benefits like automation, integrations and cybersecurity might render the security system ineffective; this could result in unchanged or even increased operational costs.

Looking ahead, digital access solutions offer returns over the years by streamlining vehicle, personnel and contractor tracking as well as thorough access monitoring and identification.

For example, a digital key or keyless system could significantly reduce the time and resources spent on escorting people to sites, all while maintaining detailed monitoring of access.

This efficiency is poised to persist for years, all while maintaining meticulous oversight of movements.

Unlocking the future

In closing, embracing keyless solutions like ABLOY BEAT stands as a pivotal choice for the power industry, offering not just advanced security but also new ways to increase efficiency and resilience.

With ABLOY BEAT, the power industry can fortify its security protocols, supporting the uninterrupted flow of electricity while minimising costs and environmental impact in daily operations.

The future of power supply demands innovation and adaptability and by embracing ABLOY BEAT, the industry paves the way for a safer, smarter and more sustainable future.

ABLOY BEAT and keyless security protection

Keyless ABLOY BEAT products are operated with a mobile application over a Bluetooth connection.

The ABLOY BEAT app for mobile access control allows flexible entry and activation of user rights from wherever you are.

These keyless, mobile access control solutions are especially useful in remote areas, amidst busy schedules and in emergency situations.

1-ISJ- How keyless access is revolutionising the power industry

BEAT can be integrated with third party systems or added to your existing workflow with API and SDK architecture.

With the ABLOY BEAT keyless solution, you can:

  • Gain improved situational awareness with mobile access control, tracking the flow of contractors and employees
  • Manage keys, locks and an unlimited number of access rights from wherever you are
  • Integrate access control to the system of your choice, including third party systems
  • Stay at the forefront of critical infrastructure protection; our digital portfolio offers security combined with effortless connectivity
  • Save travel time and costs while also reducing emissions thanks to simplified logistics

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