Network-wide Locks Provide Security & More

The world is more sophisticated and complicated than it was 30 years ago-or even since the arrival of the new millennium. Highly technical, computerized security systems and devices are employed worldwide, and they are expensive to operate and maintain.

Mlock 6841

by Douglas Lacina

The world is more sophisticated and complicated than it was 30 years ago-or even since the arrival of the new millennium. Highly technical, computerized security systems and devices are employed worldwide, and they are expensive to operate and maintain.

There are, however, numerous utility providers, telecom, cable companies and others that still rely on old-fashioned, hard line protection. It's common to find traditional padlocks used at these facilities to secure equipment, whether it's at a main complex or in a remote location. They are used for installation in and around facilities and substations, as well as with service vehicles and on gates and fencing. Others use them as crew safeguards for job boxes, tool chests, cribs and other equipment.

Mlock 6841

Padlock Advancements

Solid brass padlocks have been transformed with advances in technology. Design and material improvements have strengthened protection while offering more resistance and durability against inclement weather and corrosion. In addition, lock manufacturer services can greatly increase security system efficiencies.

Today's locks can fit smoothly into user security practices. Several keying, cylinder, key control options and related services are designed to make network-wide security issues easier to administer and more effective and efficient.

A case in point involves a large utility provider that is responsible for serving millions of customers. It manages more than 75,000 miles of power lines and provides service to homes and businesses over a 10,000 square mile area by relying on crews who work from strategically located facilities throughout their coverage area.

This utility provider recently switched to Master Lock's ProSeries padlocks after an extensive evaluation and selection process. During the evaluation, testing was conducted by its engineers to ensure the locks would withstand extreme weather conditions. The region experiences large temperature swings, ranging from triple digit heat and humidity to sub-zero conditions in normal winters. Rain and ice, sometimes in excessive amounts, are an annual reality. Severe windstorms and flooding have also occurred, adding to the harsh environment.

Based on the weather conditions and location of the utility provider's equipment in the field, corrosion resistance was a major concern. The padlocks will be exposed to the elements every day and some of the equipment used in remote locations might be secured for multiple years before being accessed. The utility provider needed assurance that when one of its workers went to a piece of equipment, they would be able to open the lock. This was especially important for rapid response and restoration in emergency situations caused by severe weather.

The utility provider uses a series of four Master Lock padlocks for its security. Both the ProSeries 6841 and the 6851 solid brass Interchangeable Core padlocks are used. Available in two shackle lengths each, the 6841s are used on trucks, gates and tool cribs.

To enhance the overall security of its operation, each of its facilities has its own master key system. The locks can periodically be changed if personnel lose keys, if new trucks are purchased or if a lock is stolen. When this happens, locks can be keyed to the same system, maintaining security and control.

Interchangeable Cores Save Time and Money

The overall convenience and cost effectiveness, along with Master Lock's ability to key padlocks to match an existing Interchangeable Core setup, were two major contributing factors in leading the utility provider to convert to Master Lock. Interchangeable Cores are used in padlocks and door locks, providing integrated security systems throughout large facilities and field locations.

The Interchangeable Cores make it quick and easy to switch out lock combinations or cores. Using a control key, the core can be extracted from the lock and replaced without removing the lock and leaving the location unsecured. In addition, pinning the combination can be changed to operate with a different key instead of purchasing a new padlock. It requires seconds to change out the core, compared to 20-30 minutes to rekey the same lock.

Convenience can be realized in other ways, too. When multiple locks are involved, for example, some providers whose locks are not combinated or pinned can customize and pin the cores for their utility trucks, substation locks and other stations and cages that need to be secured. If the provider wants to change the locks on substation gates, the cores can be prepared in advance-allowing personnel to quickly proceed and switch out the core on location without the risk of leaving the location unsecured.

All things considered, switching locks is an important process that takes a significant amount of time. The process, however, will be more efficient if you work with a lock company that eases the transition. Master Lock, for example, provides a service called "Make to Order." All the high-security locks, including the ProSeries 6851 2-inch model with a solid brass body and a thicker shackle, can be provided by Master Lock fully combinated and keyed alike to the utility provider's requirements.

The bottom line is that any utility provider needs hard line protection. Ranging from large facilities with multiple interior needs to extended field networks, solid brass padlocks as well as door hardware and system options are the intelligent choice and can integrate smoothly into virtually any organization.

About the author: Douglas Lacina is a senior product manager at Master Lock Co. in Oak Creek, Wisc. He can be reached at

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