Allegion Releases Engage, Assa Aperio CompetitorBy Brian Rhodes, Published Oct 29, 2014, 12:00am EDT
Wireless locks are one of the fastest growing segments of access control.
The biggest player in this market today is Assa Abbloy with their Aperio platform.
Now, one of Assa's top competitors, Allegion (the Ingersoll Rand Spin Off), is releasing their own line, Engage.
In this note, based on feedback from Allegion, we break down the features, price, limitations and competitive positioning of this release.
Aperio vs. Engage
Like Aperio, Engage is a completely wireless, battery powered lockset access solution designed to be inexpensive and quick installing compared to mainstream electronic access control.
However Aperio, released in 2012, has a big head-start on Engage. Aperio offers over 30 different locking products and more than 80 OEM platform partners [link no longer available] who have integrated them into their access systems. In contrast, at the time of launch in Q4 2104, Engage has exactly one hardware lock (the Schlage NDE profiled below) and no 3rd party developers announced.
Allegion explains that the primary method of integrating to Engage hardware will be through a to-be-released gateway interface early next year. However, they expect most of their existing Access Control Partners [link no longer available] to cross over and support Engage as well.
The Pitch: Control More Doors
Adding doors to standard access is typically expensive, requiring both various cabling and protracted install costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars. This cost is typically substantial enough that only strategically important or high-volume doors have access control installed. The high cost means that most doors in a typical facility are secured by mechanical key control, meaning that door activity logs, access scheduling, and instant lockdown of doors are not possible.
Engage claims it will help bridge the gap, by offering the power features of electronic access at a reduced cost by eliminating most of the installation and cabling costs. In an Engage system, the lock communicates wirelessly and is powered by standard batteries and replaces existing mechanical locksets.
Compatible locks will also cost less. The role of securing perimeter openings still fall on heavy-duty traditional locks like electric mortise locks, exit devices, maglocks and strikes, but the typical Engage hardware set will cost thousands less.
The manufacturer's promo video below explains Engage and how it will fit with an existing Access Control system:
In that video, three key points describe the platform:
- Basic Features Only: Engage is not a full-blown access management platform, and uses no software or main panel and database. Without a 3rd Party access management integration, all of Engage's utility is hosted on the locks themselves. The limited hardware and software resources are suited only "For basic applications like adding and deleting credentials, or viewing lock history". However, these actions are limited to one lock at a time and with no integrations with other systems.
- Gateway TBA: A major missing piece is upcoming 'Engage Gateway' that will enable access platforms to integrate locks directly. Until this device is released and the Engage API becomes fully available, 3rd part access control integrations are unlikely.
- Free: There is no cost of using Engage for endusers and developers. For endusers, in it's basic (non-integrated) state, Engage is managed by a free cloud based smartphone app. For access developers, the Engage API will be freely distributed and carry no licensing fees.
Schlage NDE Overview
The first lockset using the Engage platform is from Allegion's flagship Schlage brand, in a product called NDE, a full replacement leverset that also includes a keyed lock cylinder and adjustable latch:
While the product cut sheet offers more details, the key points are:
- Low Cost: NDE has an MSRP of $720, which puts street pricing at ~$500 or less. With low cost playing a key role in market success, NDE is priced 2X less than a typical single door of hardwired access and equal to the price of similar Aperio locks.
- aptiQ Module: The unit works with most major credential formats, including HID's iClass SE and aptiQ's mobile based BLE and NFC types.
- Battery: The lock is powered by 4 standard AA batteries the manufacturer claims is good for 2 years of normal use.
- 802.11b/g: Until the gateway is released, NDE will use standard 2.4 GHz WiFi network communication.
- Mechanical Key Support: NDE fits Allegion's four basic keyed lock profiles, including knob locks and interchangeable core locks.
However, the lockset will not work for every access problem:
- Cylindrical Prep Only: One of the biggest limitations NDE faces is that it currently only can be installed on doors accepting cylindrical hardware. This essentially limits NDE to office, meeting, or storage room doors. Allegion told us that 'future hardware sets are being considered', but that no additional releases are imminent.
- Not UL Rated: Another drawback, even for some cylindrical prepped doors, is that NDE is not rated for use on firedoors. While not representing many typical doors in a facility, if one is desired to be access controlled, other locking solutions must be used.
AD vs NDE
Schlage's NDE Lockset does not replace Schlage's AD series [link no longer available] of wireless locks. Allegion tells us the more expensive, heavy duty/ perimeter security grade AD hardware line will continue to be offered but remain fully separated from Engage's platform.
Even with the slow start, we expect Engage and NDE is become a factor in access control. Even after the IR spinout, Allegion has retained a deep portfolio of A&Es and Specifiers who will write those products into specs. This will drive substantial new business, beyond the SIs who sell retrofit access solutions.
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