Welcome to the frequently asked questions page. Locks can be a confusing business, and we’re happy to answer any questions you may have, which you do by calling the office or filling out our contact form. On this page you can find out about the questions we’re commonly asked about everything from Padlocks to interchangeable core systems here in the U.K.
What is an Interchangeable Core?
This is one of the most common questions we’re asked. The interchangeable core or “IC” is a locking key cylinder that is adaptable. Unlike a standard key cylinder, an interchangeable core mechanism used a singular “control” key for insertion and extraction of the essential (or “core”) combination components. “Small format” interchangeable cores are in a figure-eight shape that is standard among lock manufacturers. “Large format” interchangeable cores are of varying sizes. Interchangeable cores can be extracted from one lock type (rim lock, mortise lock, padlock and so on) and then installed into another without needing the removal or disassembly of any single component. These units are commonly used for master key or ‘suited’ systems, and are generally supplied and set up with spare cores and keys for quick replacement when your door security is compromised, such as when a key is lost or stolen or when a personnel change takes place. Extracted cores can then even be recombinated and placed back into maintenance and facilities storage for use again in the future, when needed. It sounds more complex than it is, we promise!
What advantages does having a suited (master key) key system have over our current set up?
Having a suited system makes life that much simpler when it comes to locks. The concept of a suited system has been in circulation is the 1800s, and is used by most large corporations and sites. Simply put, it gives you the ability to have one Grand Master key that can open all locks, with additional general master keys that open seperate sites or units within the entire complex, but do not yield access to all doors/sites. This process can continue almost exponentially, with the option to have over 16,000 differs (different keys operating singular or multiple locks) across any given site or building.
Can I have a suited system that allows different members of staff access to different areas?
Yes, of course – this is the whole concept of the suited system. This benefit is commonly used in schools and larger sites to allow cleaners or contracted staff to enter in specific areas, but not others.
What does 7-pin Interchangeable Core mean?
This is simply the volume of pins inside the core. We do not use 6-pin, as 7-pin double increment systems give the most secure cores available for Small Format Interchangeable Core. We don’t like to work with any less security than we need to, and as such provide the best we can.
Are your Arrow and Medeco Interchangeable Cores compatible with my current BEST system?
Yes, we’re delighted to say that all of our 7-pin cores are compatible with any BEST interchangeable core system. BEST interchangeable core was the very first of these systems created, but has not adapted to the modern age quite so readily as others. For example our Arrow Interchangeable Core is a ‘One core fits all’ unit, meaning it can be fitted or distributed to either euro-profile cylinders or oval cylinders (more commonly used in America). The Arrow and Medeco cores and keys can also be more cost effective, and also tend to have more patented key ways available.
What is a patented key way?
Now we’re talking. A standard key way is what you might find anywhere from your garden shed or padlock on an angling site, to a standard key to multi-million pound factory door. The ‘standard’ element of this key way means one thing; it can be copied.
In essence, this means that should you drop your key outside your house, Joe Bloggs may pick said key up, take it to a generic key cutting shop, possibly one that rhymes with ‘shtimpsons,’ and have it copied, as many times as they like.
A ‘patented’ key way is one that is not available on the open market. They are supplied only to the client in question, and legally we cannot provide them to anyone other than the client who originally commissioned the system. This includes even the end user. The keys have a protected patent on them, allowing them to sold wholesale to certain distributors, who then (like ourselves) have the means to cut and shape the keys as required.
The added benefit of the patented key ways means that each key created is brand new. Over time, keys, like any other item, are subjected to general wear and tear. In fact keys are one of the most used objects we own. They’re in use several times a day, every day, 365 days a year, so it’s no wonder they become so worn, as do the pins inside the cores. Ever seen someone on your favourite TV show operate a lock with a hair pin? This is why such scenarios are possible – wear and tear. Having a brand new key means the same cut key going into the core, utilising the pins in the same way, every time. Clever, eh?