Get ‘smart’ with Carl F Groupco

Q&A on Smart Door Lock Technology for Glass News, November 2023

With smart door locking technologies gaining traction in the market, we spoke to John Crittenden, Managing Director at leading independent hardware distributor Carl F Groupco, about what these products have to offer. 

I’ve always associated Carl F Groupco with hardware and haven’t really considered smart technologies as being part of your offering. When did ‘smart’ enter your product portfolio? 

It may come as a surprise to many, but ‘smart’ door locking technology really isn’t new. Our ‘smartest’ product, the fully motorised FUHR multitronic 881 door lock, has actually been in existence and available to the UK market for nearly 20 years, albeit with additional functionality now. What’s changed over time is the number of smart products entering the market and the level of interest in them. At Carl F Groupco we launched our SmartSecure brand in 2016 to highlight these products and give them the spotlight this growing sector deserves. 

When did smart products move from being just for high-end projects to being more mainstream? 

Here at Carl F Groupco, we’ve always felt the association of smart solutions with high-end projects is a bit of a myth. We’ve very much found that these products are more often used in volume where there is a real need for what they have to offer rather than just a desire to use technology for technology’s sake.  

This is partly because incorporating additional technology comes at a cost. In circumstances where there’s a safety aspect or there’s a need to integrate locks into a building management system, smart technology brings clear and obvious benefits that are very much worth the investment. 

For example, we have a large project in progress for a university hall of residence alongside Senior Architectural Systems. This ongoing project, for which we specified the FUHR autotronic 834P, features an integrated panic function alongside hybrid automatic/electronic locking. 

Can we talk about the products themselves? What are the smart products Carl F Groupco offers? 

Fabricators have the option to select from multiple levels of locking technology, providing adaptability to meet individual project requirements. This not only accommodates diverse project needs but also serves as a gateway for fabricators seeking to explore alternatives beyond traditional mechanical door locking systems, thereby expanding their reach into new markets.

From FUHR we have the autosafe 833, which is a reliable automatic multipoint locking system that offers immediate security for main entrance doors in both residential and commercial buildings. While not compatible with access control and smart functionality, it’s a good stepping stone.

In projects involving multiple occupancy buildings or dwellings requiring both security and user convenience, the FUHR autotronic 834 presents an ideal hybrid solution offering automatic locking driven by magnets and access control electronic locking. The innovative 834P variation is gaining popularity in schools and commercial projects, primarily due to its unique panic function, ensuring emergency escape. 

The FUHR multitronic 881 is a fully motorised, dual motor driven multipoint door lock system with integrated panic function suitable for main entrance doors in various types of buildings. Also compatible with access control options and building management systems, this solution is the top specification door lock in the SmartSecure range. 

They are all impressive solutions with the added benefit of being adaptable and customisable. This really opens up opportunities for fabricators and installers to target different markets. Almost any access control is compatible with these locks, so whether a fabricator needs to integrate with existing systems or fit new alongside the FUHR access control options – anything is possible.

Then, alongside our FUHR range, we also have alternative options, including the Yale SensCheck range of window and door smart sensors as well as the MACO M-TS motorised lock range.  

You’ve had a long association with FUHR – just how long has it been and how did the relationship come about? 

The relationship with FUHR began in 1962 when even I was a young whipper snapper, so the exact details are lost to history! But the strength and longevity of our partnership is testament to the durability of the hardware, and the trust our customers have in the brand. 

Today, we carry the most comprehensive FUHR range of products in the UK and we are one of the company’s largest customers worldwide. The breadth of products and the length of our partnership with FUHR means we are true FUHR experts. It also puts us in a strong position when it comes to new product development or requirements, such as profile-specific product parts or adaptations to existing product lines to make them more suitable for UK fabrication and standards. 

Are you anticipating that smart products will take over from other products in your portfolio? 

Traditional mechanical hardware will always be a permanent fixture in our range. However, we expect interest in smart products to continue to grow. We also expect new developments in the technology outside of traditional lift lever locking options. Watch this space, as they say! 

Featured in Glass News, November 2023 edition

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