Every self-storage facility needs a robust security system to protect tenants’ goods and the owner’s assets, and that system must always work at an optimum level. Once a customer rents a unit, their quality of interaction with the property hinges upon the functionality of various access points, such as the keypad, main gate and unit door. Your system should also trigger alarms or provide video evidence in event of a criminal incident or accident.
The trouble is, today’s security systems are becoming much more sophisticated, and it can be difficult for a self-storage operator to know precisely which components to use and how to design a comprehensive system that’ll meet the needs of their particular property. One of the best remedies is to work with a security-system integrator. Let’s look at what this person does and how to choose a partner who can properly assist your business.
What the Heck Is an Integrator?
A security integrator will ensure your various components work together to provide a comprehensive system for your facility, from the design phase all the way through grand opening and beyond. In self-storage, this commonly involves access control for automatic gates, building and unit doors, and elevators. It also typically includes cameras, speakers, intercoms, burglar and fire alarms, phone lines, and internet access. An integrator installs the behind-the-scenes hardware and software, along with any other security equipment. Here are some other things this person can do for you:
Assess your needs. An integrator’s first step should be to identify your security risks and needs. These will vary based on property. For example, the needs of an urban, multi-story building differ significantly from those of a rural facility with all drive-up units. Self-storage sites are almost as unique as snowflakes when it comes to lot sizes and shapes, building layout, driveway entrances and exits, etc.
Estimate costs. An integrator should provide pricing and estimates for the system they’ll design, plus alternatives. They should show you good, better and best options to consider based on your business goals, desired functionality and budget.
Keep you current. Technology changes rapidly, so a good system integrator should be knowledgeable about the latest products and enhancements. For example, the cameras available today aren’t the same as those on the market 10 or even five years ago. To stay current, your integrator will network with other security-industry professionals and suppliers. In some cases, equipment manufacturers offer or require training or certifications for an integrator to become a dealer or installer for their products.
Solve problems. With technology evolving rapidly, there’s often more than one way to resolve a dilemma. A security-system integrator should be able to determine the best tool to deploy for each application and budget.
Choosing a Partner
When it comes to security, it’s important to find an integrator who’s knowledgeable about the self-storage business as well as the latest security solutions. This industry is unique, and so are its security needs. You want to work with someone who understands the business model and is able to recommend a solution that’s right for your operation.
Integrator expertise is particularly valuable during project development, when they can help you determine placement for items like keypads, gates, building entrances and elevators. Architects and engineers often omit these details and leave it up to the owner. A system integrator will help you determine the best locations for these components from a security perspective, while ensuring they’re still convenient for traffic flow and tenant access.
Here are some other qualifications to look for in a security-system integrator:
Efficient. The right person should help you get the job done quickly and correctly. An experienced integrator will be licensed and able to swiftly pull permits when required. They should know exactly how all the hardware and software components work together as well as system requirements and best practices, which will save time on installation and setup.
Adaptable. If there are any hiccups or delays during facility construction, your integrator should be able to easily adapt by having necessary parts available. For example, too often, the initial wiring used on a project doesn’t meet security-equipment manufacturer specifications. A good integrator knows Category-5 wiring isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for low-voltage security systems!
Safety-minded. When it comes to automatic gates, your integrator should be familiar with Underwriters Laboratories 325 safety standards, as failure to follow them can lead to serious injury and liability.
Collaborative. The integration between your security system and other building components such as sliding glass doors, elevators and automatic roll-up doors requires constant communication with their respective installers. The earlier the system integrator is brought into a project, the smoother the installation typically goes for all parties involved. It’s important for all suppliers to know what’s expected of the integrator, including the door vendor, elevator company, etc.
Supportive. A reputable system integrator will be there for you long after the installation is complete, ensuring all components work together and training users on how they function. They might provide copies of user manuals and proper documentation for warranty and maintenance. A service agreement may be offered or required during the warranty period. At a minimum, you want to be your integrator will be available to service the systems they install.
Trustworthy. You want to feel safe and confident that your security integrator is up to the task. Ask for references from jobs that are comparable in scope and size to yours, and follow up with them. It can also be helpful to reach out to the manufacturers of the systems the integrator is proposing to see if they’re a certified or creditable installer.
Ask yourself if you can fully trust this person or company to get the job done and keep your facility safe. Consider whether they’re easy to reach and communicate with when you have questions or need assistance. After all, the integrator will set up items like passwords for remote access to the camera system and alarm passcodes to cancel a police dispatch.
From helping you make smart choices for your self-storage security system to the actual installation and operation, it’s imperative to work with an integrator with whom you feel comfortable. At the end of the day, you should feel confident that your chosen partner is a trusted asset today and well into the future.
Todd McClure is sales engineer for Pennsylvania-based Automated Security Corp., a nationwide supplier, installer and servicer of commercial security and protection products that specializes in self-storage. He has experience with installation, technical support, design and specification, project planning and project estimations. He has extensive knowledge in the integration and compatibility of various system technologies. To reach him, call 610.873.0067; email [email protected].