Locksmith Case Studies - Chris Von Cossel
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Locksmith Case Studies

What does a locksmith actually do?

Nothing’s better than to delve right into the following real life case studies.

Have fun, read on!

This super-model doesn’t like grubby locksmithing stuff

Problem: A swanky model agency lost their bouncer and was left with a rimless armour-plate glass door and no easy way to add locks to it. In addition, the area leading from the door to the receptionist could not be cluttered up by a cable-run for any access control. Solution: Metrolocks installed a magnetic lock to the top of the door. It was made to hold to the glass by a specialist bonding agent and by a springy steel pressure-plate. A little wireless receiver was added to the magnet and a transmitter installed to the receptionist’s desk. Pressing the button on the wire-free transmitter sent a signal to the receiver, which then released the door. This elegant installation has so far chalked up four years of trouble-free operation.

Loss of power: not only bad for dictators, hospitals hate it, too

Problem: A hospital needed a vital area secured by means of a keypad. Even though power-cuts are an infrequent occurrence, the management was very keen to avoid any problems resulting from electricity supply issues. Solution: Metrolocks installed a heavy duty Unican digital mechanical latch lock. This type of access control system is suitable for hospital use due to sturdy build of the lock that needs no electricity.

Waiters don’t like waiting

Problem: A busy pub kitchen had a simple fob-reader installed, to avoid guests erring into the kitchen. Having to hold a fob up against the reader proved impractical for staff carrying dirty dishes back into the kitchen. Solution: Metrolocks installed a proximity reader near the door, which was able to read the employees’ fobs from a distance of up to 1 meter. When staff now approaches the door, the lock buzzes open on its own.

Too many keys spoil the broth, over time

Problem: The management of a large block of flats felt that over the years their key-security was compromised by numerous tenants not returning their keys, when they moved out. The cost of changing all main entrance and back door locks every few years was considered prohibitive in view of the great number of keys required. Solution: Metrolocks installed a fob-reader onto every entrance door and wired all of them back to a central computer. The porter can now manage with ease and immediate effect all the fobs, which need to be added for new tenants and deleted for departed tenants. As a result of this access control system installation, the tenants’ confidence in the building’s security improved greatly.

A pool is good for swimming, but much less so for locks

Problem: A gym found that the moisture in the air near the changing rooms repeatedly wreaked havoc onto their existing heavy duty mechanical digital latchlock: It had to be replaced nearly every year. Solution: Metrolocks installed a moisture resistant keypad with a latchlock and an electronic door release. This access control system has now been in place for 5 years with no repairs whatsoever.

The curious case of the missing office supplies

Problem: An accountants’ office manager noticed an inexplicably quick depletion of some of their office supplies. These were kept in a separate room, which was never locked. Solution: Metrolocks installed a medium duty digital mechanical latchlock. Only a few people were entitled to know the code. After the installation of the access control system thefts stopped forthwith.

Lastminutehugeproblem: Losing the keys just before the property exchange…

Problem: For this client of Metrolocks, the hand-over of the keys on a beautiful flat was a mere 2 hours away. Suddenly, the agent noticed, that the keys weren't where they were supposed to be. A lengthy - and fruitless - search ensued. Solution: In the end, we got the call to change 1 of the locks in an emergency. We suggested not to replace all the locks, just one, as the original keys were likely to somehow re-appear. ...and re-appear they did, 30 minutes after the hand-over.

Lining the pockets of a successful estate agent…

Problem: This estate agency was close to a large number of new high rise apartment blocks. More and more previously owner-occupied flats turned into rentals. As a result, the estate agency found itself becoming increasingly involved in rental property management. Solution: That business is all about affordable, reliable and trustworthy contractors - exactly what we at Metrolocks stand for. Communal door locks, the security on the flat doors, window locks, the intercom and access control systems, roof access, bike storage, pool doors and lockers, Metrolocks' job list grows by the week.

An intercom system, made adaptable as a chameleon

Problem: This property manager ran a huge multi-storied former warehouse, let to numerous and ever changing tenants. The problem was the access via the intercom system. The current traditional multi-button intercom panel kept on breaking down through the sheer volume of use it received. Also, the space allocation within the building kept on changing, offices were enlarged, reduced, combined, made open plan etc. That then required the intercom telephone handsets to be moved frequently. It was near enough a full time job for an intercom engineer. Solution: The Metrolocks engineer installed a telephone based intercom system: Via a stainless steel hard wearing outside keypad, visitors would type in their desired destination. The intercom system then makes a BT-type phone call to the destination office's telephone system. The receptionist or whoever answers the call and opens the door from remote. This new telephone line based intercom works a treat, there were neither complaints nor any call-backs. The system will last, because it has hardly any moving parts and uses only very little cabling.

Minting it at a fair, with a treasure hunt and the help of thousands of keys…

Problem: A manufacturer of consumer goods wanted to entice consumers to visit their stand at a large fair. The plan was to mail a key to a large list of consumers, with a promotional message about a treasure chest this key might open at the fair. Among the 12000 keys they mailed out were 50, which would actually open the treasure chest. The remaining keys would go in to the key hole, but would not turn. Solution: Metrolocks won the order simply by being able to credibly prove that the logistical and technical aspects of such an order are easily within our reach.

Not all visits by strangers are unwelcome. Take carers, for example…

Problem: Home carers need easy access to their clients' homes, simply because the clients can't always open the door to let their carer in. There are many solutions, at times the client's doors are simply open, neighbours act as keyholders, keys are put under the door mat, etc. Solution: One carer agency wanted to streamline the access process. After discussing their requirements with Metrolocks, they decided to give their clients 2 options: They could fit a simple digital latchlock to the door, for which the carer would be given the code. The alternative was a little keysafe, to be fitted to the wall outside. The keysafe is locked with a code-lock, to which again the carer would be given the code. In the keysafe were the keys to open the client's property. As a result we fitted 18 digital locks and 32 keysafes.

A care home becomes hard to run when the tenants are on the run!

Problem: As is common in care homes, this particular one had a problem with some of their mainly bedbound residents suddenly walking out of the main door. A front door in a care home needs to allow for easy egress in case of an emergency, but residents should not necessarily be able to simply walk out. Solution: We installed a door alarm that would go off every time the door was opened. The alarm would then notify the care home staff, that someone was on the way out. So as to avoid the alarm going off upon entry or exit of staff, we added a little key switch on both sides of the door. Staff would turn the key in the switch before leaving, so as to disable the exit alarm. It took the care home staff about a day to get used to this new system, but there have apparently been no further incidents of absconding residents.

Doomsday has arrived: the masterkey is nowhere to be found

Problem: The unthinkable had happened: The masterkey was nowhere to be found. It wasn't in that much use anyway: most residents' doors were open most of the time, but the masterkey gave easy access to some secure cabinets and to a storage room for residents' belongings. Had it been stolen? Had it just been mislaid? The uncertainty was hard to bear. After an impromptu board meeting, it was decided to replace the mastersuite. Solution: Metrolocks won the order due to a fast turnaround and a good price. We suggested they keep the locks of the old masterkey suite in a safe place. Who knows, having a spare masterkey suite ready might come in handy one day.

Buying keys: not just a few, but THOUSANDS!

Problem: A chain of supermarkets was looking to establish mobility scooter clubs at its outlets. Disabled repeat shoppers would no longer have to queue at a service desk to ask for a scooter key, they would simply be given a key each, to permanently keep. All locks on all mobility scooters worked on the same key. The chain put out to tender an order for 15 000 identical keys, to operate the scooters up and down the country. Solution: Metrolocks won the tender, mainly because we could credibly demonstrate our ability to master the logistics of fabricating, counting and packaging such a substantial amount of keys. Lastly, keen pricing helped, as well as being able to turn the order around quickly.

Wow, building managers can be a demanding lot!

Problem: This particular lady was employed to manage a large London office block. Office blocks can engender enormous amounts of locksmith work. Her requirements in 2014 so far were indeed multi-facetted: 1) Masterkey suites, extend old ones, supply and install new ones 2) Provide office furniture keys 3) Fit access control gear to various areas 4) Develop intricate solutions to secure roof hatches 5) Survey 234 doors, with a view to pre-empt any health and safety issues 6) Develop a car park access control solution 7) Supply and install digital locks Solution: According to her, our key factors of success were 1) The delivery of good locksmith work 2) Timely reporting to her about the status of each job 3) Be nimble, be quick 4) A deep respect for health and safety considerations

Having a hard hat’s not so hard

hard hat
Problem: Building sites are full of emergency work for locksmiths companies. This particular building site in Bow in East London was no exception. Due to one of their site supervisors being inattentive, the management had 6 different tool chests to force open in as many days. They were looking for a locksmith to attend at very short notice, able to open up quickly and be dressed suitably for building site: Hard hat, vest and steel capped boots. Solution: Metrolocks fitted the bill, overall we were called out 27 times to the site over the course of around 2 years. Other jobs included 2 smallish masterkey suites and access control work.

The tough men of the night: bailiffs

Problem: This bailiff firm had contracts with 3 London Boroughs to collect unpaid rates from commercial clients. Those locksmiths' call-outs usually happen at night. The bailiff had ongoing problems finding locksmiths, who were able to turn up reliably, on time and just get on with the locksmith work. Sounds like a simple request, but the unsociable hours and the diversity of locksmithing skills required caused problems. Over the years they experimented with many different locksmiths, often 1-man bands. Solution: Then the bailiff was introduced to 1st Metropolitan Locksmiths. That was 7 years ago. Metro's locksmiths, to this day, for 7 years, have turned up reliably, on time, and just gotten on with their work.

Why also older people love our locksmiths

Problem: The staff at the day-care centre for the local elderly knew a lot of the trials and tribulations of the unassisted living of many of their clients. Their woes were many, tradesmen were one them. As the centre's clients were all locally based, the management decided to get the clients to suggest tradesmen in the local area they had used and had been happy with. Solution: A well thought out questionnaire brought around 50 replies, and allowed the centre to establish a list of recommended contractors, with Metrolocks on it, as the locksmiths of choice. Metrolocks topped the list of locksmiths for 3 reasons: Friendly, affable staff, cost, and the fact that the users had not experienced the uncomfortable feeling of being talked into further or unnecessary works.

Yeah, sure, these students were ‘studying’ at 2 a.m…

Problem: This London university runs its campus buildings on a very tight budget. In the event of a night-time lockout, for instance, a student, unable to enter his own room, would simply be given a different room for the night, and the maintenance staff would solve the problem in the morning. But sometimes there are issues that require immediate attention, in the middle of the night, medication, passports for early morning flights etc. Solution: Metrolocks has consistently been able to respond to the needs of this university, by sending out a locksmith promptly, whatever the hour These night-time lockouts have led to other lock and access control engagements for this university.

Where style and hoodies clash

Problem: This block was in a socio-demographically improving area. The block's management board decided to capitalise on that and to fit video intercom system, to replace their current clapped-out audio intercom. Occasional vandalism had been a problem in the area. The board was concerned, that a new and shiny big intercom panel with 47 call-buttons and a nifty integrated camera would virtually beg for vandalism. Their other main concern was cost. Upgrading to a video system often requires a complete rewiring, unless... well, read on. Solution: After lengthy discussions, Metrolocks had the board agree a GSM based intercom system. By the main entrance is a vandal resistant keypad with a built-in camera and an LED display. The visitor types the flat number into the keypad. The keypad will then make a telephone call to the tenant's land line or his mobile phone, or one after the other. If the tenant gets the call on his mobile phone, the outside camera will show him the video feed from the front door. A certain button sequence entered in the tenant's phone will then release the door. The LED display serves to display to the visitor the progress of his call. The small size and robust allure of the outside intercom keypad put paid to the vandalism concern. The absence of any wiring, combined with the absence of expensive video intercom handsets allayed any fears over costs. To be fair, a GSM intercom can be much cheaper than a traditional wired one, but there are small monthly line rental and telephone call costs. Also, the list of the tenants' telephone numbers needs to be administered and programmed in to the keypad (this can be done from remote).

Uninvited neighbours frolicking in the roof garden

Problem: This apartment block management company had recently been awarded the contract for a 50 unit modern block of flats. The block sported a very attractive roof garden, which turned out to be the envy of the neighbourhood. After a while tenants noticed non-tenants were frequently taking delight in the discreetness of the roof-garden. Things gradually got worse, non-tenants were leaving rubbish everywhere and playing games in the stairways. The main culprit turned out to be the keypad entry system on the main entrance door. The keypad's entry code had over time become known to a fair few in the local community, who then used it to gain access to the roof garden. Solution: The management company called Metrolocks to discuss a solution. At Metrolocks, we had seen similar problems before, a keypad code is easy and sort of risk-free to hand out to others. We suggested a fob reader, with a fob to be given to each tenant. The fob needs to be held up to the fob reader near the main door to release the lock. A fob would not just be handed out to any 3rd party. Fobs aren't cheap to replace, and they are, after all, the tenant's only means of access in to his building. The strategy worked and dramatically reduced the number of undesirables in the roof garden and the stairways.

Cutting corners to lower the cost…

Problem: An elderly lady had lost a set of her keys and wanted the locks changed, in order to feel safe again. She had 2 locks on the front door and 3 rear doors. Her main problem was a financial one, she needed the locksmith call-out done on a budget. Solution: The Metrolocks engineer in the end suggested just replacing the locks on the front, and simply leaving a key permanently stuck in each of the rear doors. That would then prevent anyone from putting a key in to any of the rear doors. While the rear door solution was far from perfect for various technical reasons, it did allow the client the requested relief on the budget front.

Bonanza: 7 identical lockouts in a day!

Problem: This one day in January turned into a peculiar day for Metrolocks: We fielded 7 cases of people accidentally leaving the key stuck on the inside of their main door when leaving. With many locks and particularly with uPVC doors, this then prevents the user upon his return from inserting the key fully into the keyhole. 7 people thus found themselves locked out on that day. A Metrolocks engineer arrived in each case and opened the door by reaching behind the door and pulling the handle of the door to open it, without any damage to the lock. Solution:

Snifters stolen from the board room

Problem: The board-room of this oil exploration company had a little annexe, for a coffee machine, cups, plates, cutlery - and a relatively basic range of spirits. The board meetings tended to be sober affairs, most of the time. Alas, the slow, but consistent depletion of the spirit levels did not reflect that sobriety. Solution: It was therefore decided to add a little digital lock to that door, the code for which was to be known only to the chief's assistant. The company asked Metrolocks to fit this lock. It demanded great care, due to the beautiful veneer on the door. Lo and behold, the spirit depletion stopped thereafter.
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Member of ALOA Locksmiths' Assoc.

Member of ALOA Locksmiths' Assoc.
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