Why, Where And When To Retrofit

Why, Where and When to Retrofit

How to get the most out of your retrofit experience

As the push for connected campuses advances, many facilities are looking to upgrade their security systems from mechanical to electronic access control. Electronic access control has many benefits for healthcare, corporate and education campuses including managing high-traffic areas, controlling access to restricted areas and supervising employee traffic throughout a facility.

Before starting a new retrofit project, facility managers must conduct a site assessment of existing conditions, which includes identifying integration and manufacturing partners. These partners will help the facility managers and security leaders understand the latest code requirements, the types of solutions needed for the project, and which products best meet the facility’s budget constraints.


Before an integrator can begin a retrofit project, the facility managers and security leaders must first determine the goals of the project. Is there a specific area of the facility that needs a higher security solution than others? What type of user interfaces will best suit the building and its occupants? What pain points can the retrofit project address?

It all starts with understanding the business, as a whole, and then determining what the facility manager and occupant needs. Once the goals are established, facility managers need to look at the priorities of each campus then meet and discuss with an integrator ways to strategize a timely and cost effective plan.

Many campuses, whether it’s healthcare, corporate or education, must maximize budgets and minimize downtime by creating a plan that upgrades the security in layers and over a period of time. Campuses will often initiate upgrades in the highest priority areas, based on code or overall campus security, and work from there.

Healthcare facilities, for example, will most likely segment specific areas by security level and priority, then retrofit each one separately. For example, a hospital may choose to retrofit the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), one of the most heavily guarded and secure units in a hospital, before moving on to another part of the maternity wing. This allows the hospital to cost-effectively keep the maternity wing open, while still upgrading the security in a top priority unit.

Education facilities, on the other hand, look to the overall security of the campus and typically start with the perimeter of the campus and work inwards. Schools and universities can maximize budget and minimize downtown by retrofitting and upgrading facilities during summer and spring break.


From a security manufactures’ perspective, there are steps that we can take when designing or upgrading a product to make it ideal for retrofit situations.

The most ideal design for a product is to minimize how much customization integrators have to make to the opening. For example, when an integrator takes a mechanical strike off the frame to put in an electric strike, the process should be painless and as simple as taking the surface mounted mechanical strike from the frame and installing the appropriate electric strike for the project.

Manufacturers also look at designing products that are made to retrofit their mechanical product offerings. As new products are designed, manufacturers can look at their previous offerings, find products that have a unique cut or hole pattern, and design a new electrical product that directly retrofits the mechanical offering. This also gives manufacturers an opportunity to create a more universal installation template that not only accommodates for past frame or door modifications, but also prepares the opening for any future adjustments for the long term.

As access control manufacturers, it’s our job to minimize as many on-site problems as we can by producing products that are built as durably, reliably and flexibly as possible.


After a product is designed, on the market and sold for a retrofit project, manufacturers have many opportunities to provide support and resources for integrators to avoid any unscheduled downtime. Downtime during retrofit projects can cause significant shifts in the time of and cost of the project. If a product needs to be replaced, integrators must order the new product and wait for its arrival, which can cause a delay in the project and cause higher costs than originally expected.

When manufacturing partners offer customizable hands-on training sessions, live-chat or mobile app customer service assistance, integrators have the resources to find support before and during installation.

Warranty is another critical part of any purchase that shouldn’t be overlooked. In many cases, warranties offer customer’s peace of mind knowing that when they’ve invested in a premium solution, there will be a support team ready to help them in a timely manner if a problem arises.

When upgrading access control, it’s important for facility managers and security leaders to work with integration and manufacturing partners they trust. These partnerships give integrators the resources for every step of the project from code compliance and product selection through installation and to the product’s end of life.

This article originally appeared in the August 2018 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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