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How Does Key Fob Access Control Work? (Simple Guide)

Elliot Blackler January 12, 2021 7 min read

In recent years business has changed dramatically but keeping your sites, people, and vehicles safe will always be a priority to any company. 

With more and more businesses turning to more contemporary methods of security, we will be taking a look at one of the most straightforward and effective methods, Key Fobs.

In this simple guide, we will take a look at Key Fob Access Control, how it works, some of the benefits, key elements, and industries that can utilise these types of systems.

  • An overview of Key Fob Access Control
  • Features of Key Fob Access Control 
  • How Key Fob Access Control works
  • Key Fob Access Control benefits
  • Industries who can use Key Fob Access Control

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What is Key Fob Access Control?

Despite what most people think, Key Fob systems have been around since the early 80s and have been popular since their inception. 

However, these systems have come a long way from there. Primarily used for cars and using line of sight infrared technology, the early versions of the system were fairly flawed and easy to copy.

Nowadays, a Key Fob Access Control system is highly secure and uses different technology such as passive radio frequency (RFID), Bluetooth, or Near Field Communication (NFC).

Key Fob Access Control Definition

Traditional lock and keys are being phased out in a lot of different industries and keyless entry, tap-to-pay, and fob technology is being seen more and more in our everyday lives. 

This shift away from lock and key has occurred due to a few factors, such as technological advances, security flaws of traditional systems, and increased internal threats.

Whether it’s paying for your coffee with a contactless card, accessing a car without a key, or opening a door at work, we have probably seen more of this technology than we think. The prevalence of Key Fob technology is only set to expand in the coming years.

Key Fob systems basically allow a fob (often a credit card size transmitter) to communicate with the receiver (in a door or lock), to unlock and give access to a building, area, or vehicle. They are basically a short-range electronic key that sends signals to unlock something within a small proximity.


Key components of Key Fob Access Control 

In this section, we will take a quick look at some of the key components of Key Fob Access Control systems and their practical uses.

How Secure are Key Fob Access Control Systems?

Unique Access Control - limit who can access different areas within your company or sites by only giving access to certain areas to specific individuals or teams, increasing your security.

More Secure than Coded Options - a lot of industries use door/safe codes, the issue with these is that they can be shared, giving access to anyone, whereas a fob is easily trackable and makes the staff more accountable. 

Timed Access - you can control not only where people can access, but also when they can access the building, doors, or locks, for example, if someone isn’t at work on the weekend their access can be only on weekdays. 

Visitor Privileges - Key Fob Access Control can also grant temporary access to visitors, external stakeholders, or people who need short-term access, such as contractors, freelancers, or maintenance professionals. 

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How Does Key Fob Access Control Differ From Lock and Key?

Robust Design - with keys there is always a possibility of a lock getting jammed, a key getting lost, or broken in the lock. Key Fobs offer an easy and convenient option that improves your security and limits breaches.

Difficult to Reproduce - technically speaking, you can copy a Key Fob, but it is not a simple process and not one that someone could do without a lot of technical know-how. Regardless, this is much harder than copying a traditional key which can be done at multiple locations with ease.

System Management - unlike keys, you can manage your system very easily, tracking who has a fob, when they use it, where they have access to, and the ability to reset, deactivate and create new fobs with ease.

Low-Impact Installation - compared to other security systems or traditional locks, implementation of a Key Fob system is fairly rudimentary and means it can be used in a wide range of industries, companies, and locations.


How does Key Fob Access Control work? 

As alluded to in the previous sections, Key Fob Access Control systems are fairly straightforward and utilise short-range communication between two devices to unlock doors, locks, vehicles, and more.

In more technical terms, these Key Fobs use RFID (a type of radio frequency), which is a form of barcode system that transfers data using electromagnetic fields and communicates this data to the system from the fob using radio waves. 

Unlocking a door or lock using a Key Fob is as simple as holding your fob in front of the reader, which will read the microchip in your fob and open the door or lock.

Customisable access means that you can limit certain people to different areas that relate to their work. For example, the custodian, cleaner, or janitor might have full access, whereas a receptionist would only need limited access.


What are the benefits of Key Fob Access Control?

Key Fobs offer a wide array of benefits, to companies of any shape or size, here are just a few of them broken down into three categories, security, implementation, and general:

Security Benefits of Key Fob Access Control

Trackable Entry - key fobs allow you to oversee and manage exactly who has access to certain areas, keep a full record of who has gone in and/or out of a building or door, and increase your security.

Limit Access - tighten your security by reducing the number of people who have access to certain areas, regardless of your industry or size, this can be useful.

Reduce Internal Shrinkage or Loss - Understanding who has access means you are much less likely to lose stock and can limit internal theft. In this event, you will have a much shorter list to analyse. 

Audit Trails - having an easy and traceable trail of where your staff has gone and which doors have been accessed keeps your access points secure and simple to manage.

More Secure than Keys - needless to say, it is very easy to copy or lose a key, which can put your security at risk. Fobs cannot be copied in the traditional sense and if one is lost, the old one can be deactivated.

Implementation Benefits of Key Fob Access Control

Easy Integration - one of the great things about Key Fob Access Control systems is that they can be integrated with other security systems to maximise your protection.

Cost-Efficient - you don’t have to worry about changing the locks and getting new keys, you can just reset the system, or remove a card/fob’s access to a door or building. 

Low to No Mechanical Wear - unlike other types of security systems or standard locks, there is no wear-and-tear because the fobs are often NFC, Radio, or Bluetooth and all are contactless.

Link to Different Systems - to further increase your security you can link your other systems such as CCTV to give two-layer security measures, for example, requiring a facial match to confirm entry.

General Benefits of Key Fob Access Control 

Fobs can be IDs - a lot of companies double-up their efforts and use their fobs as ID cards too, giving you accountability and easy, practical identification. 

Find Your Staff Quickly in an Emergency - due to the nature of Key Fob Access Control systems, you always have a good idea where your staff are, or at least where they have been.

Auto Locks - remove the potential of doors being left unlocked with auto-locking when a door shuts, keeping your locations secure with ease.

These are just some of the benefits of using a Key Fob Access Control system, depending on your industry or company size, you may find even more, or other uses for this type of system too.

Benefits of Key Fob Access Control


What industries can benefit from Key Fob Access Control?

Key Fob Access Control remains one of the best ways to secure your business which is not only cost-effective, but simple to set up and use. 

Key Fob systems offer companies of all sizes the ability to keep your buildings, doors, stock, and staff safe with ease. 

In terms of industries who can use Key Fob Access Control, it’s really broad because of how accessible and straightforward the systems are, some examples are:

  • Entertainment
  • Bars and Nightclubs
  • Supermarkets
  • Jewellers 
  • Electronics or Gaming Stores
  • Power Plants 
  • Industrial Estates
  • Hotels
  • University Halls / Apartments / Leases / AirBnBs
  • Construction
  • Naval and Military Bases
  • Retail 

There are countless more industries that a Key Fob Access Control system could be utilised in. In fact, there are very few industries or companies that would not benefit from their implementation within their security systems.

So there you have it, this technology has come a long way since its inception, from cars, to hotels, to businesses, to the consumer.

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Why Should You Trust Us?

It seems that people and vehicle access control is an incredibly complex world using hard to understand technology, yet it impacts so many of the environments we interact with on a daily basis.

We are here to fill in the disconnect. We'll break down access control, the benefits, and drawbacks as well, including expert insight based on over 30 years experience in the industry operating as an independent British company. Our goal is to give you ALL the information so you know what's right for you.

Please consider subscribing or adding to the conversation in the comments below. We appreciate you taking the time to visit our resource centre.

Elliot Blackler

Elliot is the in-house content specialist at Nortech and runs all aspects of the resource hub. He's passionate about UK manufacturing and how modern content marketing can help bring light to complex industries.

Elliot works extensively with the Nortech team to shine a light on the access control industry for both installers and end users. Always keen to improve, feel free to email him on new content suggestions or feedback!

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