The SUPER RMR Padlock

By Brian Rhodes, Published Apr 07, 2013, 08:00pm EDT

Despite the dearth of new product announcements for the year's ISC West expo, padlock lovers can rejoice! Mul-T-Lock is introducing their Watchlock padlock [link no longer available] to the US market. This device features advanced technologies and touts the tantalizing prospect of RMR to dealers. Do these claims make this padlock indeed "SUPER"? In this report we take a deeper look.

Product Examined

From a hardware design perspective, the Watchclock is rather traditional and unremarkable. The lock features a hardened steel shank, steel casing, and is protected by an ABS housing that contains both the lock, electronics, and a field-replaceable battery.

However, beyond its simple purpose comes a variety of high tech features. The manufacturer's video overviews:

Where the Watchlock departs from standard padlocks is in its 'access control' abilities:

  • Audit Trail: The lock registers who (which key) and when the padlock is opened or closed including recording unsuccessful attempts to open the lock.
  • GPS Tracking: The lock is built with a GPS radio that records where the lock is located at any given point, and also stamps lock activity (open/close) with location information.
  • Battery Powered: The unit is a low-draw device, and the onboard battery claims to last several years of normal use.
  • Web Accessible: The status and history of the lock is accessible via a web portal, and maps showing travel and activity events are downloadable from the portal.
  • Mul-T-Lock Compatible: The Watchlock is designed to be used with 'standard' Mul-T-Lock 'smartkeys' and provides the same functionality as the other products in the line. A user must have a valid MulTLock 'key' credential to open the lock, no matter if it mechanical fits or not. For more information on what general features are provided, see our 'eCylinders Explained' update for more detail.

However, these advanced features come at a premium, with the pricing of Watchlock being 20 times higher than high security 'traditional' locks:

Pricing

The total cost of the padlock is calculated in two pieces:

  • The padlock itself has a projected street price of ~$400 USD.
  • The ongoing GSM cellular service (offered through Starcom Systems) is projected to cost ~$20/ month

The total cost of the unit includes the additional GSM service. While the padlock functions as a lock regardless of the service, the advanced reporting and tracking features are not possible without it.

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Not Really "New"

Despite making the ISC West "New Product" Showcase [link no longer available], the Watchlock is not a new product. It has not been available in the US/North American market until this year, but has been resold and in use in the EMEA markets since 2010. The delayed introduction in the US is a result of delays negotiating a nation-wide cellular carrier for the product.

RMR

Of course, one of the more compelling features of the Watchlock is the prospect of recurring monthly revenue (RMR) to the selling dealer. A dealer is able to resell GSM service through Starcom in the same manner as alarm monitoring or managed video services.

Given that the wholesale price of monitoring is projected around $5 - $7 per lock, the 'service resell' price of $15 - $20 per unit  generates significant RMR to the reseller.

Ideal Application

The steep price of the Watchlock will keep it from being considered in many 'traditional' padlock situations. Locking gates, trash dumpters, and tool sheds are all applications better served by strictly mechanical padlocks. However, the manufacturer suggests that remote utility sites, tractor trailers/containers, and mobile jobsites can all be served by the auditing features of the lock. Ultimately, we expect it to be a niche offering, given the combination of high up front price and ongoing service fees. 

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