Lost keys with a happy outcome

Winkhaus blueSmart secures Franciscan convent in Schwäbisch-Gmünd

Every now and then a key was lost in the Franziskanerinnen der ewigen Anbetung von Schwäbisch Gmünd e.V. convent. However, the last occurrence prompted a massive change. Instead of installing new mechanical cylinders in the complex with approximately 220 doors, the old technology was swapped for electronics. Since then, the property has been secured with Winkhaus blueSmart. Sisters and employees now only have one handy key on their waistband.

The convent complex, which was moved into about twenty years ago, is the newest in Europe. This is one reason why people are open to new technology here. A variety of systems were on offer to secure the entrances and doors. Therefore the following question arose: What does a locking system for the convent need to offer? It took a few weeks to find out and select the right solution. 18 sisters currently live in the convent, which serves as a retirement home. The youngest of them is 69, the oldest is 100 years old. They were therefore looking for a system that is also easy to handle for elderly residents.

The architecture of the convent complex is pure aesthetics. It was important that the locking system components didn't detract from this. As overnight guests, worship visitors, seminar participants and patients and employees of the newly constructed hospice building also enter and leave in addition to the sisters, freedom of movement and, for example, safe storage of medicines were important aspects. There were also existing third-party systems such as the working time logging for staff, which had to be integrated. Finally, the entire system also had to be easy to manage.

Conversion without modifying the door

The wish list was therefore full of complex tasks. Four access control systems were shortlisted and subjected to a practical test. "This was worthwhile in order to determine which product is the best," says Manfred Welzel, Managing Director of the convent. Together with security specialist Reif from the nearby Heroldstatt, the convent community found the solution: The Winkhaus blueSmart electronic access control system is the only one that meets the requirements.

The Reif team therefore installed around 200 knobless and very subtle door cylinders in the existing doors. No door conversions were necessary because the electronic cylinders had the same dimensions/measurements as the existing mechanics and also do not need to be wired. Only the upload readers at the busy entrances to the convent and hospice were connected to a PC online.

The upload readers are important interfaces in the locking system’s virtual network. There, the electronic blueSmart keys are inserted, recognised and loaded with the relevant access authorisation. In this way, the upload reader assigns up-to-date authorisations for temporary and local access. It can also be used to log locking events. This makes it easy to see who had access to the medication cabinet in the hospice, for example, and when.

Practical to use

A total of 170 blueSmart electronic push buttons are in use. The keys lie comfortably in the hand. They enable the sisters and employees of the convent and hospice to retain their familiar locking behaviour. This was a very important factor among the many advantages of blueSmart when selecting the locking system. As the stable identification medium is inserted easily into the electronic cylinder and rotated – the latch is then retracted. This additionally prevents unnecessary contact with surfaces. The robust and maintenance-free blueSmart keys are also resistant to disinfectants and can even withstand washing thanks to their waterproof housing (IP 68).

The keys of the 30 employees in the convent and the approximately 25 hospice employees are fitted with special equipment: They have an integrated additional transponder which they use to log in and out of the time recording device.

Simple management

Programming the keys is simple and, like the entire locking system, can be carried out virtually by the company’s own IT division using the Winkhaus blueControl software. "It was very important to the customer that the system should be managed with a simple, easy-to-learn and easy-to-use software that makes changes to authorisations quick and easy," explains Andreas Baumann, Managing Director of Reif - Innovative Sicherheitstechnik. "We then handed over pre-configured complete software that the in-house technicians could simply take over."

The blueSmart key is also responsible for transferring information quickly and wirelessly between the electronic components of the system. Every key has an RFID chip inside, which stores user rights and transports commands in the virtual network as well as data read from door components. If a key is lost, it is deactivated in the convent IT system with just a few clicks. If someone then tries to obtain an access authorisation via the upload reader mounted on the outside, they will be identified as unauthorised by the reader. It is then no longer possible to upload access rights.

Virtual Network

Disabling a key takes effect quickly because the blueSmart network works virtually. The offline, cable-free system consists of built-in electronic components which communicate with one another. Unlike conventional online access control systems, there is no need for extensive cabling, a large number of converters or interference-prone radio links. With blueSmart, locking systems with up to 196,000 components can be implemented in this way. The system is installed quickly and easily as, with this virtual network, only the upload readers, which automate and distribute the information and commands in the virtual network, are conventionally wired.

The conversion made many things easier for the sisters and employees: A single push button unlocks any permitted door and nobody needs to remember to lock the entrances at night. This is because blueSmart takes on this task by itself. Motorised locks support the system at the entrances. They open and lock automatically on command. "The system makes things so much easier," says sister M. Birgitta, general manager at the convent. An annoying instance of lost keys therefore had a happy ending.

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