What would you say if we told you that you can control access to all your facilities with a single key and a computer? Locken Smart Access is a web platform for access management developed by Locken Ibérica that enables complete control of all facilities. Carlos Fernández, Director of Business Development at Locken tells us about this solution in further detail.
Question: ¿What is Locken Smart Access and what are its applications in the water sector?
Answer: The solutions that enable electronic access control must adapt to the essential changes that are taking place in the workplace. The primary clients using these systems are public and private companies; they can no longer continue to use products and technologies from the past.
Locken Smart Access is an access management tool for companies, designed taking into account current trends in the relationship between companies and workers.
Following the same concept as Customer Relationship Management (CMR) applications, Locken Smart Access is a basic tool to create a Worker Relationship Management (WRM) culture, specialised in global access management, considering all the factors that affect this management.
The technology is changing the workplace and security, with a significant impact on the old concepts of 'access control'. Accordingly, the following aspects have been considered in the development of Locken Smart Access:
- Mobility: Having access to the internet we can access anything, no matter where we are.
- Globalisation: We live in a world without limits, where language, culture, location or currency are not a barrier to the expansion of business and companies.
- New social behaviours: We communicate, collaborate, share and learn in different ways.
- Millennials: In 2020, they will be 50% of the workforce, reaching 75% in 2015, a different generation with different values and priorities.
- New technologies: Cloud computing, Big Data, IoT, collaborative platforms, etc.
These four basic factors are shaping the change in WRM and, at the same time, they affect the design of any tool to manage, either entirely or partly, the relationship between a company and workers, whether they are the company's own or outsourced staff.
Locken Smart Access is a solution for access management named after the software that enables it (LSA), but it should be considered a holistic concept; all its components have been designed and developed to ensure organisation, control and performance in simple or complex work environments, in a constantly evolving technological and social environment.
Companies in the water sector face a serious problem concerning access control and safety of their remote technical facilities. These include water abstraction points, water tanks, pumping stations, chlorination facilities, monitoring or early warning centres, etc. There are thousands of technical sites scattered across the country with only an old mechanical lock as a safety measure. Restricted access to this type of facilities is not guaranteed.
Locken Smart Access provides a modern solution for electronic access management to sensitive sites, scattered and remote, with no need for wiring and at a reduced cost.
LSA is a secure and easy to operate access management solution that improves the operating efficiency of water sector companies.
Carlos Fernández, Director of Business Development at Locken.
Q: Please tell us about its main features.
A: Locken Smart Access (LSA) is a multi-user software that can be customised and is managed through the web. It is used by access managers and administrators to configure and operate any access system based on Locken technology. This new generation of software has been developed to simplify access management in large and complex systems. The LSA software has been designed to:
- Limit the work of administrators and people in charge, automating tasks and handling operations occasionally.
- Have a high capacity to integrate with other IT systems to limit management tasks, thereby reducing costs and increasing efficiency.
- It is easy to adapt and can be tailored to the needs of each client.
- It can manage different types of hardware to control access, simplifying management in terms of security and operations.
There are 2 versions of LSA:
- The Welcome version, to manage facilities which are not very complex and single-site facilities, through access matrices.
- The Evolution version, to manage complex systems, is a fully scalable system.
LSA services can be hired as:
- A license that can be complemented with hosting services, IT maintenance, project consulting and support services.
- A SaaS (Software-as-a-Service): Annual renewable contracts that include the license, hosting and IT maintenance; they can also be complemented with project consulting and support services.
Locken Smart Access includes the following basic features:
- Safe access to software management:
- User validation using a code received by SMS (double factor authentication).
- Creation, import and editing of user information:
- Directly in the LSA.
- Through file import.
- Through the client's IT tools, using web services.
- Management of key synchronisation: download of events and upload of access permissions.
- Management of replaced keys and locks.
- Delivery and reception of user keys.
- Creation, import and editing of cylinder information:
- Directly in the LSA tool.
- Through the client's IT tools, using web services.
- Management of key black lists.
- Management of access profiles according to needs: planning, schedules, period of validity, etc.
- Management of devices to validate access and their remote management.
- Automated warning system based on events in the system (keys with the battery running low, expiration date of permissions approaching, access to certain locks, etc.)
- Access to basic system logs to audit activities, for monitoring and reporting.
Q: What problems related to water cycle management does it address?
A: Companies and entities providing water cycle services face a serious risk concerning access to their technical facilities, most of them scattered, isolated and with no permanent staff. In a large portion of these facilities, the power supply is not guaranteed, nor is it the access to telecommunications networks. These facilities are visited irregularly by teams of staff, either the company's own workers or outsourced workers, to carry out maintenance, inspection or installation tasks.
From the point of view of security, the risks faced in the water sector are the same faced by other utilities (energy, telecommunications):
- Theft (even internally, by own or outsourced staff).
- Terrorist attack.
- Responsiveness of private security services or the police.
Perceived risks from the perspective of occupational safety:
- Access to facilities by unqualified workers or workers that do not have proper identification.
- Non-compatible work.
- Lone worker accident.
- Accident after unauthorised third party access (children).
From the point of view of management and operational quality:
- Need to escort external staff carrying out work.
- Delivery of incorrect keys to third parties (who cannot gain access).
- Fraud with regards to maintenance or other tasks (visits not done or too much time billed).
- Difficulties planning maintenance or installation work, resulting from access management.
- Lack of data on visits to facilities and the time spent. Information loss.
With Locken Smart Access we can address all of these problems and risk situations, solving many of them immediately or creating improved management scenarios to minimise their impact in the medium term.
This way, using Locken Smart Access:
- Keys that have not been returned, have been lost or stolen lose their capacity to access the facilities immediately
- Every instance of access will be recorded and can be audited
- The keys will contain access permissions according to the work planned.
- Outsourced staff must be correctly registered and identified in the Business Activities Coordination systems (BAC), and be covered with regards to occupational safety. Otherwise, their electronic keys will lose access authorisation.
- Each action will leave an electronic trail; therefore, we will have data on the activity in each centre, the timing of entry and exit: who, where, when.
- Integrating Locken Smart Access with other computer management systems (BAC, computerized maintenance management system or CMMS, SCADA) will lead to improvements in daily operations, creating synergies and saving costs.
Q: How does it differ from other similar technological solutions in the market?
A: Locken electronic keys and cylinders have been designed, manufactured and certified specifically for the working conditions that water management companies need: outdoor environment, with cold, heat, rain, snow, dust, dirt. In this regard, Locken electronic devices are as good as or better than their mechanical counterparts.
On the other hand, and from a digital point of view, the technology used in the Locken electronic keys and cylinders is as good as or better than the technology used to manufacture card access control systems, with or without wiring, which are not recommended for remote outdoor locations.
Locken brings together the reliability of mechanical systems and the technology of the most advanced digital systems, with reduced deployment and maintenance costs.
All hardware, software and services components of Locken Smart Access have been designed to be used under the usual working conditions in the water sector.
Q: What did the launch of this product mean for the water sector?
A: According to a survey carried out by the Spanish Maintenance Association (AEM), the cost of maintenance consists of 30% materials (spare parts and miscellaneous materials) and 70% labour (own and outsourced staff). These data have not changed since 1990, when the first AEM survey was done. The labour component of maintenance activities is large and stable.
Statistics indicate that only 50% of the time spent in maintenance work is actually put to use. Improving this per cent would not only impact direct maintenance costs, but also the image of the maintenance done, whether done by own or outsourced staff, and this is something important that affects productivity.
Proper organisation of maintenance services is essential for the staff to make the best use of the time spent at work, in order to ensure highly efficient as well as effective maintenance.
Locken Smart Access effectively contributes to better organization and optimal use of staff, particularly outsourced staff, providing a large amount of information on the movement of staff in the facilities.
Not only does Locken Smart Access produce data to check in case of an incident, theft or accident. Regular analysis of entry and exit data at each facility provides crucial information for management, checking that the preventive maintenance contracts are abided by, the responsiveness of corrective maintenance, and allowing cost savings.
'Locken Smart Access effectively contributes to better organization and optimal use of staff'
Q: What are the business and development expectations for this type of technology in the water sector?
A: The business expectations in the water sector in Spain are very high, because the current level of uptake of electronic access control equipment is very low, almost non-existent. In this regard, the water sector is very different from other infrastructure segments such as energy or specially telecommunications.
Locken has provided equipment to more than 60,000 mobile telephony sites in Spain, approximately 80% of the total in operation. After 15 years of use, O&M managers of telecom operators, as well as the staff in charge of maintenance or installation work, cannot even think about achieving current levels of network efficiency and quality without a solution to manage access such as the one proposed by Locken.
Q: Of all the projects where this technology has been used, which ones would you highlight due to their impact on the water sector?
A: All the projects Locken is involved in are different and each of them has something special, even projects for different companies in the same sector and with similar objectives.
However, the main European projects for Locken have been implemented in France, including projects for Eaux de Marseille, Lyonnaise des Eaux, Veolia Water, Eau de Paris and Saur.
All of those projects, whether because of their magnitude or their characteristics, have been very demanding, requiring the best in terms of technology and operational capacity. They are very important project references for Locken.
Q: Finally, how has technology changed in the water sector? And what are the main challenges ahead?
A: Water infrastructure were the first to be built by modern man, with the largest cumulative economic investments. Also, water has been a driver for the development of science, architecture and engineering as we know them today.
However, currently other disciplines are more advanced with regards to technological development. Thus, the concept of Smart City, which should be owned by water entities, companies and professionals, is being led by telecommunications, energy and software companies and professionals.
Ana Arroyo Obis, Project Manager of the Directorate for Water Engineering and Technology at Aqualia, said in a recent article published in iAgua that 'Modernising water infrastructure and retrofitting them to be more sustainable is key for the development of society'.
We agree. Modernising and retrofitting to ensure reliability, sustainability and resilience must be the focus of the water sector, and adopting technology is the key to it. Water technology, of course, but also complementary technology related to the water sector.
The water industry must ask for social recognition and receive the public and private investments it deserves. We have to do everything in our power to protect water, a valuable and essential resource.