Anderson Lock created, installed, and continues to maintain multi-level, high-security master key systems for a global pharmaceutical company (3 buildings, 3,000 cylinders), a new high-tech hospital (2,500 cylinders), a healthcare complex (4 hospitals, 15 other buildings), a real estate management company (thousands of cylinders in Chicago metro area), and for hundreds of other customers, from A for airlines (at nearby O’Hare International Airport), to Z for zoos.

Sample Master Key System Schematic

Since 1960, we’ve cut millions of keys and have become the premier Master Key System provider in the Chicago region.

Here’s how we do it:

1.  Site Visit. Our Keying Expert visits the site of a proposed Master Key System, or, if the site is under construction, meets with the site’s planners and reviews blueprints. He asks a lot of questions, and then listens carefully to learn how the security of the new system will be balanced with the convenience of the people who will be using it. He considers the challenges of allowing access to certain doors, while restricting access to other areas. When possible, he walks to every door, and notes any security hardware deficiencies that would impact the integrity of a new key system.

2.  Schematic.  For large Master Key Systems, our Graphic Designer creates a colorful, custom MK Schematic, similar to a corporation’s organization chart, which our Keying Expert takes to the Keying Meeting.  This MK Schematic helps customers understand the different levels of the proposed MK System. Seeing an illustration, which depicts the client’s actual Buildings, Departments, Floors (as in First Floor, Second Floor, etc.) and, certain types of Doors, (like Mechanical, Electrical, Janitorial, etc.) helps clarify which groups of locks should logically be operated by the same Master Key. Modifications to the proposal at this stage are cost-free and easily accomplished. Anderson Lock is known for its comprehensive planning and designing of secure, long-lasting Master Key Systems.

3.  System Design.  No two MK Systems are alike. There are so many variables affecting a facility’s physical security that it is difficult to summarize “How a MK System is designed.” Different types and brands of locks, cylinders, keyways and keys all impact the System Design. Future expansion needs to be planned for, as well as integration with any electrified stand-alone or networked access control locks.  Computer-generated bitting lists are utilized to create large systems, but the parameters must be pre-determined, with every door accounted for, and sufficient extension allowed for, before the order is placed with the manufacturer.

4.  System Installation.  Anderson Lock employs enough experienced lock technicians to handle the largest Master Key System installations in a skillful, timely, and efficient manner. To assure that doors close and lock properly, additional related security hardware products may also be specified and installed at the time of the MK System Installation. In older buildings, some doors and frames may also require repair or replacement. Anderson Lock’s Door Division, with its huge onsite warehouse and state-of-the-art fabricating equipment, supplies hollow metal and commercial wood doors, which complement the building’s aesthetics. A Door List and Key Control Guidelines are provided to the customer. Often, key cabinets and key control software are recommended and supplied to assist with key tracking.

5.  System Support and Maintenance.  Key codes are carefully maintained in a neat, organized, alphabetized manner in our secure codebook room. Although this seems elementary, and, for high security lock systems, required by the manufacturers, we know that many locksmiths and hardware wholesale houses fail to keep accurate records, and are unable to correctly replace lost or reassigned keys with keys cut to the next code in an existing system. For example, if a new tenant moves into a space in a multi-level building with a multi-level master key system, the building manager will request that the new tenant’s locks be rekeyed, with the expectation that the building’s master keys will still operate the rekeyed locks. With reliable recordkeeping, this is easily done, and, indeed, is done for many customers, on a daily basis, at Anderson Lock.

Those are Five Steps to Successful Master Key Systems. But the Five Keys to our Master Key Expertise are:

  1. Knowledge
  2. Skill
  3. Experience
  4. Reliability and
  5. Friendliness!