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Cabinet and Enclosure Hardware Developments at EMKA in the 21st Century

Posted By Andy Billingham, EMKA (UK) Ltd, 23 March 2017

Much has happened since the Millennium where the feedback over those years from developing products to keep pace with industrial needs has driven the development of ubiquitous items like quarter-turn locks and latches which form a core range with companies such as EMKA (UK).

In the 1990’s a typical ¼ turn lock was IP54 rated in simple die casting without additional sealing. Firstly flat seals were introduced, then “O” rings, and finally PUR injected seals leading to sealing now commonly available up to IP69.

An early requirement was to look at new materials where leading companies developed capability with reinforced polyamide – for reasons of cost and corrosion resistance as well as stainless steel, which added exceptionally rugged characteristics and corrosion resistance suitable to wash-down areas and marine environments.

As plastics technologies developed greater strength and rigidity were possible so that slim-line polyamide cams could be produced offering cost benefits and reducing paint damage to cabinets.

At that time simple back nut fixing was the norm but was time consuming where multiple panels were being assembled, so EMKA designed a range of “quick-fit” products which push-in and clip-fix.

The humble ¼ turn latch lock was changing incrementally with customer demand for smooth, cavity-free designs suited to food processing plants and high sealing to withstand regular pressure washing.

At the other end of the scale outdoor environments and rail or other transport vehicles have their needs met with high speed dust cap retention and colour coded open/closed indicators.

Perhaps the biggest change in the world of ¼ turn locks and latches has been the spread of compression function products. These now offer vibration resistance to prevent nuisance door opening, as well as more complete gasket pull-down and consistently higher IP sealings.

Pre-2000 traditional L and T handles were being challenged by relatively new styles of pop-out swinghandles in simple die-cast zinc. These handles offered lower profiles to minimise damage and clothing hazards, while providing convenient, comfortable operation for the user.

Parallel developments took place comparable to ¼ turn locks – it is amazing how usage has changed in those years and how products have changed to meet those needs. For similar reasons – enhanced environmental requirements, cost and user friendliness – swinghandles are now produced with “O” rings and PUR seals giving excellent sealing for all applications. Glass reinforced polyamide was introduced as the industry developed slim, strong handle designs alongside stainless steel variants in AISI 304 or 316.

These reinforced machine grade plastics proved extremely capable such that robust anti-vandal designs were possible in these and zinc die – often complimented by low profile escutcheons and inset handles for sealing and anti-tamper purposes.

Just resisting unauthorised access or simple damage however was not enough – in those years we have seen the flowering of the internet and the growth of big data – vulnerable to physical theft. Enter Electronic Locking – developed by EMKA to protect server cabinets and industrial electronic control systems from unauthorised access.

Simple electronically verified swinghandle based protection soon developed into networked systems which could be remotely monitored and authorised. The Agent E stand-alone wireless system was one approach for single or small numbers of cabinets.

For larger installations where building access and complete physical access control is required right down to the individual cabinet or compartment, then Biometric systems have arisen with integrated locking, electronic monitoring of access logs and cabinet environment, full reporting and control over the internet, fully encrypted giving world-wide connectivity.

Addition of the EMKA BioLock with integral fingerprint reader to the ELM program now offers a superior level of security for protection of valuable data; in compliance with PCI, SOX, SSAE 16 and HIPAA in support of EN 50600 – with unique, personal identification and traceability. The use of biometric access control gives the possibility also of an operator designating specific alarm fingers which both open the system and set off a remote alarm to warn of an operator under threat, so enhancing personal safety.

The BioLock, in conjunction with PIN codes and RFID access cards, provides an extremely high 3 level security protection which may be applied on an individual cabinet or on a designated block of cabinets with, for example, a group controller supplemented with separate cabinet release protocols. Multiple releases of separate panels on individual cabinets are catered for by means of linked ELock slave units.

BioLock management is handled by means of Control Cockpit software which provides comprehensive control and monitoring functions with the flexibility to add/remove/report/alarm in support of the SYSLOG standard – plus an SNMP interface for integration with third party systems.

However, while this high-end security has been developing the more mundane security issues of industrial electrical and electronic control and supply cabinets have not been ignored – such that we now have mechanical solutions such as interchangeable lock cylinders which can be removed and replaced at any point in the installation process.

“Everything but the Enclosure” technologies have a long lifecycle and there is much from 1995 which is still perfectly suitable, but elsewhere we have seen refined engineering capability for standard and custom products including friction welding, sintered metal production and 3D CAD modelling, a process which has not only enabled development of more complex designs, but also put the panel engineer in direct contact with the product designer via detailed downloadable drawings.

Much too has changed in the small things – often overlooked – we can now source pre-cut, pre-assembled and vulcanised gasket, installation-ready without messy cutting and gluing. EMC gaskets have become mainstream, while a major demand has been identified for fire protection and high temperature gaskets in EPDM and silicone.

Previously, assembling rod locks took many minutes, now advances in design and plastics technology mean that rod guides can be fitted in seconds while precision plastic mechanisms provide quiet operation and more comfortable feel than older style units made from die castings or metal stampings. Rod systems not only improved, they moved.

At one time only installed inside the gasket area, rod lock systems migrated beyond the gasket, at the same time freeing up door areas and enabling simpler sealing arrangements for locks etc.

Growth in technology and sophistication of design has been matched with commercial developments which support specialist enclosure and panel builders – toggle latches continue to find new application, torque/friction hinges have become mainstream – not just something to be used on expensive electronic devices, and in response to globalisation we see also an expansion of UL certification.

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Tags:  biolock  biometric access sytems  gaskets  insert locks  quarter-turn locks  rod locks  swinghandles  toggle latches 

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Taking Data Centre Security to the Server Rack

Posted By Andy Billingham, EMKA (UK) Ltd, 17 November 2016

Access security experts at EMKA point out that current data centre security practices rely on three things to ensure the protection of data. First, keeping a thief out of the building; second, monitoring the system to detect the removal of a hard drive; finally, encrypting the data on that hard drive so that if the first two fail, the hardware is still useless to the thief. Despite these efforts, data theft still occurs with some frequency, which is why companies need to consider a change in their strategy, such as biometric security.

EMKA believe that by implementing biometric technology at a different level of operations, such as the server rack itself, companies can optimize their security and establish a new line of defence that doesn't interrupt workflow. Installing a fingerprint scanner on the server rack door handle won't affect building access or other factors, but ensures that only authorized personnel can actually open the rack and remove hardware. This ensures security regardless of whether a thief manages to bypass the other security measures. Furthermore, it protects a company from theft by its own employees – one of the leading causes of data breaches seen worldwide.

Of course, as firms deploy server rack security solutions they may see other ways to improve their building access control with biometrics. By starting at a basic point of entry and deploying a high-quality biometric solution, a company can see the results and build from there, implementing biometrics where needed and avoiding a single large-scale investment that may not be cost effective immediately.

EMKA/Digitus Biometric solutions offer top of the line security for any company, but in the data centre it is particularly beneficial, providing front line protection for valuable or critical with information which is quickly becoming the currency of this digital age.

Tags:  BioLock  biometric handle  biometric technology  data centre security;  EMKA UK  server rack security 

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Door panelware and security for server racks from EMKA UK

Posted By Andy Billingham, EMKA (UK) Ltd, 27 July 2016

Server racks are a specialist type of cabinet today often requiring the highest level in access control along with the simplest in hinging and gasketing. Primary concerns of course are regarding physical security and nullifying the possibility of data theft via removal of servers or connecting of unapproved memory devices such as thumb drives. Whereas the ventilation needs of the housed equipment leads to lightweight largely perforated doors with little need for sealing externally but a need to maintain ventilation integrity, along with a simple cushioning requirement to absorb rattles and ensure correct feel and function of the door when required.

Such a package is provided by hardware specialists EMKA with our program 3500 BioLock which adds high level fingerprint technology packaged at the door with the convenience of a low profile swinghandle, so ensuring that it really is the authorised person opening the door while ensuring gangways to be as narrow as practical – and snag free.

3500 BioLock can be used on individual racks or suites and integrated into site-wide monitoring/control systems.

The requirement for door hinging is met with our captive pin program 1031 for lay-on doors and suits the narrow 25mm return used on such lightweight fabrications. Hinge pins on the 1031 may be readily withdrawn but are held captive. For especially light doors and side panels the 1117-U6 pin hinge is a simple, low cost, push-fit solution.

Sealing and vibration absorption of these lightweight doors is very effectively managed with a simple clip-on D profile gasket strip such as the EMKA 1011-24 which is self-gripping on flanges of 1mm to 2mm while providing up to 2.5mm of compression to ensure that unwanted materials are kept out and that the internal ventilation is not compromised by leaky door flanges.

Further information on EMKA products can be found on the EMKA website - www.emka.co.uk. Readers can find the latest information and news on the EMKA blog – www.emkablog.co.uk or follow them on twitter - http://twitter.com/emkauk.

Tags:  biolock  captive pin hinges  d profile gasket strip  door panelware for server racks  EMKA  server rack security  swinghandles; 

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Fingerprint technology on-the-cabinet @ DataCentres Ireland

Posted By Andy Billingham, EMKA (UK) Ltd, 26 January 2015

We exhibited our new BioLockfingerprint technology recently at the DataCentres Ireland Exhibition where it was installed on Dataracks cabinets and created substantial interest among this specialist audience who are involved in the planning, designing and operating of datacentres, server rooms and storage facilities.

BioLock swinghandle technology offers for the first time biometric processing at the cabinet and provides an indisputable PCI DSS, SOX, SSAE 16, SOC 2 AND HIPAA compiant audit trail which was appreciated by visitors to the stand as exemplifying industry best practice in personnel data security. BioLock thus addresses the increasingly recognised problem that internal breaches comprise over 40% of data loss, sabotage and attack.

Tags:  BioLock  biolock data centre security  EMKA UK 

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