The tech factor: key to the success of UK architectural ironmongery

Daniel Blackwell, commercial director of London Architectural Hardware Ltd believes UK’s ironmongers can play a key role to forge the industry’s role to stay ahead at a time of rapid change. 

We’re seeing an incredible wave of scientific and technological change globally.

As Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently highlighted: “Trailblazing science and innovation have been in our DNA for decades. But in an increasingly competitive world, we can only stay ahead with focus, dynamism and leadership.”

And I believe the UK’s ironmongers can play a key role to forge our industry’s role to stay ahead at a time of rapid change. 

To become more efficient, reduce costs and provide quality, developers are experimenting with new technologies, from 3D printed homes to AI machine tools that can provide vital predictive analytics during the construction phase.

One Nine Elms

My company recently partnered with EasySecure and DOM UK Ltd to help Multiplex go keyless at its flagship One Nine Elms site, developed by R&F Properties. This means that site personnel no longer need physical keys to access rooms.

That’s a big step forward, and we provided a bespoke solution to solve a problem – matching the innovative ambitions of our client. 

The system allows contractors to access properties through a secure digital application on their phone, called ‘DOM Key,’ which utilises an innovative cylinder lock known as the DOM ENiQ Pro V2 Smartlock Digital cylinder. Using the EasySecure platform, site personnel have login portals and profiles that keep track of who is accessing properties. Personnel must request key access to a property through their mobile phones using the DOM Key app. Once approved, a digital key will be sent to provide access.

Since being utilised by Multiplex, the system has made the site more secure and saved time that would have otherwise been spent finding or waiting for keys. Innovations like this will define our industry in the 21st Century.

In some cases, we may be called upon to provide such solutions merged with traditional historic architecture – blending the new with the old. For instance, imagine a renovated gothic building utilising smartphone-accessible technology to provide access and monitor security within its otherwise historic door handle. 

Working with AI

That’s where AI can also play a role in our industry. In addition to monitoring security within a door handle, AI can also be deployed to check for any maintenance and repair issues too. 

Even in the design phase, AI can analyse user behaviour and feedback, helping us optimise door handles to improve the user experience. New carbon fibre and composite materials can also be used to increase the durability, environmental sustainability and strength of the fittings used.

And we can now restrict access to rooms by using smartphones, as my company has shown in Nine Elms. This technology could be valuable to homeowners as well, such as granting access to babysitters and dogwalkers without needing physical keys. 

These types of technology may already be deployed to tech-savvy customers – but we have the power to deploy these across huge new developments containing thousands of homes, increasing mass adoption.  

These innovative technologies can be crucial to ensure that we, as Architectural Ironmongers, stay ahead of the game. 

With the UK’s rich history and expertise in architectural ironmongery, we can lead the way as the world enters a new era. Our ancient industry must be ready to embrace change, and I am confident we’re up for the challenge.

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