Customers looking to purchase and install smart access control systems will have many questions about the products themselves, the associated software, and the support and maintenance that comes with them. But often the focus is on what the solution was developed to do — not how it was developed.
It’s an important question. At Lockly we design and manufacture every component of our access control systems in-house — giving us complete control over our products’ appearance, functionality, the software that powers them, and their overall ecosystem.
In this article, we’ll look at how this vertically integrated model compares to the fragmented supply chains more commonly found in this industry — and the difference that makes to customers.
Fragmented Supply Chain
Many companies in the access control sector rely on a combination of internal software development practices and third-party manufacturers for hardware components. This means that while the software might be developed in-house, essential hardware components like smart locks and card readers are sourced externally.
Challenges Posed by a Fragmented Supply Chain
External suppliers might increase prices due to their own operational challenges, global market dynamics, or simply to improve their profitability. For companies that rely on these suppliers, such fluctuations can lead to unforeseen costs. To preserve their margins, they must therefore increase the price paid by their customers, or reduce the quality of their service.
When hardware components come from different vendors, each with its own set of specifications, compatibility issues can arise — and each vendor might have its own maintenance protocols, warranty terms, and support capabilities.
This lack of standardisation can make it difficult for companies to streamline their maintenance processes. The result is inconsistent service quality, longer downtimes, and, ultimately, increased costs as companies have to invest more in training, spare parts inventory, and support infrastructure.
Companies that rely on multiple sources for essential components often find themselves juggling differing delivery timelines, quality checks, and integration processes. If one supplier faces a delay, it can have a domino effect, pushing back the entire product launch schedule.
This not only affects a company’s reputation but can lead to increased storage costs, inventory management challenges, and potential contractual penalties — more costs which may ultimately be passed on to the customer.
A fragmented supply chain means multiple points of potential vulnerability. Each vendor in the chain represents a possible entry point for malicious actors — and if even one vendor’s systems are compromised, it puts the product at risk.
Even without any malicious intent, integrating hardware and software from multiple sources can lead to security vulnerabilities being unwittingly introduced into the product, and potentially going undetected during quality assurance.
The Benefits of a Fully Vertically Integrated Company
Owning the entire production process, from initial designs to the final hardware and software, provides vertically integrated companies with unparalleled oversight. It means that every stage, from design to manufacturing, can be tailored to meet the company’s exact standards.
This eliminates the inconsistencies that can arise when dealing with multiple suppliers — resulting in a product that exceeds customer expectations in terms of quality, performance, and reliability. Vertically integrated companies also benefit from quicker decision-making and adaptability, as there’s no need to negotiate or coordinate with external parties when making changes.
One of the primary advantages of vertical integration is the ability to stabilise costs. By controlling the entire supply chain, companies can optimise each stage for cost efficiency. This eliminates the markup that each vendor adds to the products or services they contribute within the chain.
And, by having a direct hand in every step of the production process, companies can quickly adapt to market changes, protect themselves against raw material price fluctuations, and implement cost-saving innovations, leading to more consistent and often reduced pricing for the end consumer.
For a vertically integrated company, maintenance is a relatively streamlined affair. Since the company has in-depth knowledge of every component of the product, it can develop comprehensive maintenance protocols that ensure longevity and optimal performance.
With full control of both the hardware and software elements of a product, even major updates and fixes can often be distributed remotely, reducing downtimes and translating to significant savings in terms of support, repair, and replacement costs.
Without the need to coordinate with multiple suppliers, design and production timelines become significantly shorter. Products move from the design phase to the market at an accelerated pace, but without compromising on quality.
For the customer that means earlier access to game-changing and reliable products, and more frequent feature upgrades and performance improvements to the software platforms that support them.
Security is important in any industry, but for a company that trades in security hardware and software, it is paramount. A vertically integrated company like Lockly has a holistic view of its products and processes — meaning potential vulnerabilities can be identified and addressed more effectively.
With a unified security protocol in place, the chances of oversights or inconsistencies are drastically reduced, and by controlling both hardware and software components, the company can minimise any gaps that could be exploited.
The challenges posed by a fragmented supply chain in the door access control industry are numerous, from unpredictable pricing to potential security risks. As the industry continues to evolve, the role of vertical integration in smart access control will undoubtedly become even more crucial.
Solutions like LocklyPRO, which are fully vertically integrated, provide a more cohesive and reliable product — with faster innovation, and more competitive pricing. But perhaps most important is the ability of companies like Lockly to ensure exceptional product security — without which any smart access control system is worthless.