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How to Simplify Access Control For Large Organisations

Every owner worries about the security of their business, but not every owner makes the right decision. Many still rely on traditional methods, such as individual locks and keys or basic key card systems, which often fall short of balancing robust security and streamlined access. Enter the master key system: a sophisticated solution designed to simplify access management and enhance overall security.

How Do Master Key Systems Work? 

Master key systems operate on a hierarchical structure. This means you can customise a key to suit a specific role, allowing a varied level of access through a convenient tiered approach. 

At the top of this hierarchy is the grand master key, capable of unlocking all locks within the system. Beneath it, sub-master keys and individual keys provide access to specific areas, creating a versatile and flexible security framework. 

Man hold wood cubes with unlock key and keys icon on table; light background

Benefits of Master Key Systems

A study done by ASIS International indicates that 93% of organisations consider access control a critical component of their risk management and security strategies. At Armstrong Security, we believe the master key system is at the forefront of modern security.

To put things into perspective, let’s apply the system to a general commercial setting. The CEO has access to all areas with a master key, department heads have sub-master keys for their specific departments, and individual employees have keys that only open their personal offices.

This system not only reduces the need for multiple keys but also offers tailored access control, ensuring that only authorised personnel can enter restricted zones. Additionally, it enhances overall security by minimising the risk of lost or misplaced keys, which can be a significant vulnerability in traditional key systems. 

With master key systems, facility managers can quickly reassign access without the need to rekey or replace locks, offering an unparalleled level of flexibility. 

Design and Implementation

At Armstrong Security, we’re committed to customising a system to best suit your needs, this means we take our time to assess an organisation’s priorities. Our first step is evaluating which areas need restricted access, identifying who requires access to specific zones, and then understanding the workflow of the organisation. 

Once we have an initial assessment we can customise the master key system in a manner that works for you. For example, here are the most common ways that different industries choose to implement a master key system: 

Apartment Complexes

Apartments often assign each individual a unique room key that can also access more general areas such as a shared pool or laundry room. In order to add an extra layer of security, some apartments place elevator restrictions where a resident can only access the floor they live on. 

Office Buildings

A corporate office might require different levels of access for its administrative, IT, and operational staff. Customisation ensures that each department has the appropriate level of access control and takes into account scalability, accommodating the growth of the organisation without compromising security. 

Government Facilities

Hospitals and pharmacies can benefit from master key systems by preventing access into restricted areas such as medicine storage rooms and operating theatres. 

Security Considerations

There are a few factors that organisations should consider in order to ensure the highest level of security from their master key system. 

Key Control Methods 

  1. Restricted Keyways: These are patented designs that prevent keys from being duplicated without authorisation. Only licensed locksmiths can create copies, ensuring that unauthorised personnel cannot duplicate keys easily.
  2. Serialised Keys: Each key is uniquely numbered and tracked within a key management system. This allows for accurate monitoring of who has which keys and ensures accountability.
  3. Key Issuance and Return Protocols: Establish clear procedures for issuing and returning keys. This includes logging who receives each key, the purpose of its use, and when it should be returned. Regular audits of key logs can help identify any discrepancies or potential security breaches.

Developing Key Management Policies

  1. Key Issuance Procedures: Define who is authorised to issue keys and the process for doing so. This includes obtaining signatures from key holders and explaining their responsibilities.
  2. Key Return Procedures: In a similar vein, it’s important to establish protocols for returning keys, particularly when employees leave the organisation or change roles. 
  3. Access Levels and Permissions: Clearly define the access levels associated with each type of key. For example, grand master keys should be limited to top-level management.
  4. Regular Audits and Inspections: Implement regular audits and inspections of the key management system to ensure compliance with policies. This can include physical checks of keys, verification of key logs, and assessments of access control measures.


Investing in a master key system is the most proactive step you can take when it comes to safeguarding a business. With the right design, implementation, and ongoing management, a master key system can provide a reliable and secure solution for your access control needs. Consider partnering with Armstrong Security to leverage our expertise and ensure your organisation’s security is in capable hands.