Managing Keys & Assets

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How do you manage your essential keys & assets?

With keys and assets of all types playing such an essential role in every environment, it is more important to ensure they are secure and quickly accessible to those authorised users who need them.

Wasted time looking for keys or searching for equipment can be a nightmare and has to be a thing of the past.

But… keys & assets can be a massive help to our business because they are always telling a fantastic, complete story about the heart of every operation, including who is (or is not) on-site now and their whereabouts, together with the efficiency of any operational process as well as the history of any user or asset.

How… in many ways:

Organisation - disorganised keys or assets can have users searching through old/redundant keys and items to try to find the one they need, wasting so much time on every occasion that a key or asset cannot be found, sometimes looking inefficient or embarrassingly disorganised in front of demanding potential users or colleagues.

To fix this: Let’s start with the actual keys- have a complete audit of all keys, throwing out any useless keys for old locks that were changed ages ago - it is always hard to throw keys away because they were once the only way to access a room or essential asset, whilst costing fortunes to replace, but now they are just a hindrance, so they have to go (at least into an old biscuit tin under the desk, “just in case”)

Now that only useful keys are in the cabinet; seal each key bunch together (an anti-tamper seal is only a few pence) so that each bunch does not get split up and prevent individual key removal when in use. Then throw away any old key fobs or lucky rabbits' foot that take up space. Number the sealed bunch and make a register or number the lock or door that they control both on the paperwork and with a sticker or number on that door or lock, so users can get straight to the correct key bunch, saving time from the start.

So now the keys are linked to the correct numbered item, door, lock, vehicle, etc. They both have the same number, and no one can remove a key from that bunch without breaking the seal and causing questions to be asked.

Now you can go about managing the keys:

As we all know; Key management is two parts:

1 - Security:- the cabinet, room or environment they are kept in - and Tracking, or more precisely

2- Keeping track of each bunch of keys:- ensuring they are always available in their correct position or knowing exactly who has them.

1- Security - because Keys are always telling an instrumental and vital story, they are not always best locked away. As long as they are in a secure environment such as a secure office or operations centre, they may be better to be on show so that they are quickly available to the right people or immediately apparent if a key set is missing.

If they need to be kept in a secure cabinet, then decide if that is to be locked away with limited access. Perhaps spare keys that are rarely accessed could be in a safe or secure cabinet with a key-operated lock. Still, the keys are often required regularly by several other authorised staff so that they may be better kept in a self-closing, self-locking cabinet with push-button/PIN/card/fingerprint or Bluetooth phone access. The cabinet security varies but may include a transparent or solid door of varying thicknesses, with additional locks for out-of-hours security. Potentially insecure environments such as public areas may use police approved commercial cabinets with reinforcement and drill-proof locks. (Only available from Keytracker.com).

So now we have all the keys neatly sealed in bunches and labelled with a number that matches the number of their hook on the wall or in their secure cabinet, with all locks & doors displaying the matching number, so the keys are quick and easy to get hold of.

But… if you go to the cabinet and the keys are missing, where do you look? – so, if this is important to you; instigate a system that keeps track of every bunch of keys, ensuring that every user logs their use of the keys in one of 3 ways:

The first is Keytracker’s simple peg-in, peg-out system that ensures the authorised user has to insert their own peg (or pegs) to release the required keys - their peg(s) will be the colour of their department (15 colours), with their unique user number or initials to show which specific individual has those keys, as their peg cannot be removed until the keys are returned.

This gives at-a-glance information about every set of keys in use and exactly who has them, ensuring their immediate completion return. It is brilliant and can be used for other items such as pagers or ladders, ensuring they are always stored precisely where they should be and available to authorised staff, or you can see who has them.

But… this will only tell a viewer who has any keys attached to the numbered peg right now, with no record of who had them last Thursday etc. So, if that is required and you have a larger budget, then: To record previous users, you can either sign the keys out in the old fashioned key register or attach a bar/QR code sticker to every sealed bunch, which, when scanned by the KeyControlSoftware.com app, will record the date, time and user (by the scanner or smartphone used) - access information can then be used or reported as required, remembering that software does have license fees and upkeep involved, but can be remotely updated or questioned at any time and allows keys to be transferred to other users off-site, whilst still keeping track of them by scanning on the new users' smartphone.

But… this still has to be carried out by the user.

If the users may forget to “sign” the keys out, then an electronic Keytracker cabinet would be used - There are four basic types:

Unlocked key positions - whereby an authorised user gains access to the cabinet using pin/fingerprint/card/smartphone and may take any keys. All keys will be recorded and logged out to that user, with pre-set alarms and email alerts as required.

Locked key positions - this is the same as unlocked, but every set of keys are individually locked into the board by an additional solenoid, only allowing the user to access pre-grouped or individual keys - this is especially useful to limit access to keys and areas that the user may not have permissions or training to access, eliminating or substantially reducing management culpability, in case of incident.

Both electronic systems may be configured to dynamic or static setup.

Dynamic - allows keys to be returned to any position as the unique identifying fob will display that key when searched on the app or at the cabinet.

Static - keeps the keys attached to a numbered peg and board position but may also be searched by description, area, etc.

Additional modules can also be added, including cloud hosting, pre-booking, site mapping to show where the door or vehicle is and any other keys required in that area, random breathalyser tests at the cabinet, GPS key modules, Rfid blocking pouches & cabinets, barrier release for vehicles when correctly paired within set time limits, in fact, anything else you can think of …

The story the keys can tell is searchable by –

Door, cabinet, lock or item - who had access to it, and when and how long.

Username - which keys has Fred accessed, when and for how long -

User department - which keys have departments accessed, when, whom, and how long.

Time and date - what was accessed and by whom on this date or period.

Bookings made - or any other optional additions.

Exit barriers or Alarms can be linked to or set to alert by text or email if keys are out too long and end of day reports show any outstanding issues. These systems are designed to be self-monitoring, so you only get notified if a problem arises but can view all information or reports from any internet device.

Out of hours key drop off and collection boxes can also be used to extend operational hours, operated manually or by showing the camera a QR code received by phone. Still, we recommend increased security with full site camera coverage and limiting time for important unattended keys.

As a tip, if choosing an electronic key cabinet, never choose one that is a weird size (32, 64, 96, 720, etc.) as these use 30-year-old 8bit drivers that cannot be updated or integrated with modern systems.

To summarise:

Most sites tend to use either:

The mechanical peg-in, peg-out boards in a self-closing commercial key cabinet store between 25 and 300 keys at the cost of around 10p per key bunch per week to rent plus £7 cabinet (£9.50 to £37 per week rental or £750-3000 purchase) - single units at £23.50 can keep track of ladders, sack trucks and any equipment that should be returned too, eliminating excess equipment purchasing and saving valuable time searching.

Or

The electronic non-locking static cabinets with clear or solid doors, storing between 50 and 400 keys at the cost of around 50p per vehicle per week plus £12 cabinet (£37 to £212 per week or £5995-18500 purchase)

Or

The KeyControlSoftware.com software with QR or barcodes is outstanding value for money as existing key storage can be used. The payment is nominal because the client only pays for the bit of cloud storage they use, from 20 to 50000 keys or items (from £9-2000 per month) - this can also be set up for any specific customer requirement and used to keep track of every asset too, from chairs to vehicles….

Or

A combination of each depends on the requirements of that area, operation or building.

A good key & asset management system provides:

Better security

Total control of all critical assets

Reduced culpability

Increased efficiency

Lower insurance

More information about assets & users

Enhanced Peace of mind

All prices include seals, and all products include a two-year extendable warranty.

www.Keytracker.com

Proud to manufacture all products and software in-house at our central UK factory to the highest standards, with installation and training by Keytracker certified staff.

For more information or to discuss the benefits of a quality Keytracker system in your operations, please check out Keytracker.com, email, or call the friendly and knowledgeable team at [email protected].