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The Importance of Master Key System in Factories

With threats to commercial properties on the rise, it is a good idea to invest time and money in securing them using state-of-the-art security solutions.

These solutions include keeping the businesses safe from burglars, internal theft, and unauthorized access; all of which can be real obstructions to their success.

Securing large properties such as factories can be a real challenge because of the expansive area they operate in and the number of rooms and employees they have.

As these factories continue to grow, the challenge becomes even bigger and requires exceptional managerial planning and skills.

A few such challenges are properly securing rooms and working spaces, managing a lot of keys, along with restricting access to certain areas using locks and keys, for which keeping a track can be very difficult.

Managing access means managing various types of locking mechanisms which includes the management of key issuance, key replacement, rekeying locks, getting new keys made for when employees leave the factory, along with keeping a lookout for lost or stolen keys.

Such a job requires a lot of proper management, and to be honest, can be quite a hassle for factory owners and managers. A single error could lead to the factory premises being vulnerable to theft and unauthorized access.

Luckily, there’s a simple solution for all that key trouble. A master key system for factories is ideal for securing and regulating access to certain areas, and it also eliminates the need for factory owners and managers to manage a huge set of keys for all the various door locks.

Read on to find out what a master key system is and how it can be of importance to factory staff and owners.


A master key system is the perfect solution for your factory if keeping a track of the keys is giving you a hard time.

It will help regulate and control the various levels of access among the factory staff and employees by simply reducing the number of keys you have to manage.

As compared to the typical one key-one lock system, a master key system allows different locks to be opened by multiple unique keys. The system is made to meet the specific security needs of a commercial property, such as a factory, allowing various levels of access to all or specific areas of the factory.


We’ve always been told that there’s only one key for every lock. So, grasping our heads around the concept of one key opening multiple locks can be a little confusing.

For a master key to work on multiple locks, there must be a thing called the master wafer inside the door locks, which is what differentiates a master key lock from a standard cylindrical lock.

When the master key is inserted into the lock, the master wafers line up, opening the lock. When they don’t, the door remains locked.

Any standard lock can be made into a master key lock with the addition of the master wafer. It is located between the key and driver pins, forming two shear lines allowing two different keys, cut in a slightly different way, to work on the same lock.


With large establishments such as factories, it is crucial to have clear and well-defined structures that dictate levels of authority and access.

  • The owners and top-level managers usually require unrestricted access to all areas of the factory, with additional access to any multi-site premises.
  • Middle and low-level managers require access to only certain areas.
  • On the bottom level, factory workers need access to only their particular working area.

It’s easy to think of the levels of a master key system in terms of the factory’s organizational chart; with the owner and managers having the highest level of power and access, and the workers having limited access.

Here is a breakdown of the different levels of a master key system in factories:

Master Key System Levels

  • Great grandmaster

As the name suggests, the great grand master key is of the highest level in a master key system, opening all the grand master, master, and sub-master/change systems under it.

This key has the power to open all the locks in a multi-site factory and is typically found with the owner or highest-ranking manager.

Since this key gives access to all areas of the factory, including other sites, it must be kept protected at all costs. It could put the entire establishment in jeopardy if fallen in the wrong hands.

  • Grand master

Second in line is the Grand Master Key, shortened to GMK, which opens all master and sub-master/change systems under it.

The grand master has somewhat restricted access permissions as compared to a great grand master key, and is usually in the possession of high-level managers who have access to all the areas of the factory assigned to them.

  • Master and sub-master/change

The most basic setup in a master key system includes the master and sub-master/change keys.

The master key gives access to certain sections of the factory and can lock and unlock all of the sub-master systems below it.

The sub-master key is the lowest level in the system, also referred to as a change key, and opens only one lock which can also be opened by the corresponding master key.

Assuming your factory has door 1, door 2, and door 3, and you want the manager to have access to all three doors, the department head to have access to 2 of them, and the factory worker to have access to just one door.

This setup would require having three keys; one master and two sub-master/change keys.

The master key, opening all three doors would go to the manager, one sub-master, opening two doors would go to the department head, and the other sub-master, opening just one door, would go to the factory worker.


Most factories are huge, having several doors and locks, and their corresponding keys to take care of. Managing these keys takes great skill and often requires full-time attention.

A master key system helps make the management process of the keys easier and provides some great benefits to factory owners and their managers.

Here are the top three benefits of having a master key system in your factory:

  • Efficiency

With a master key system, you don’t have to worry about carrying around a bunch of keys. There’s one key that does all the work, offering great convenience and comfort, and ease of handling.

Keys can be lost or stolen and it’s much easier to take care of one key instead of a giant bunch. A master key system also saves a lot of time. Since you don’t have to go through all the keys to find the one you’re looking for, which is especially beneficial in emergencies.


A master key system gives only the owner or highest-level employees the power to lock or unlock all the doors on the property, eliminating the risk of unauthorized access and security breaches.

It also allows you to design the key distribution hierarchy in such a way as to give employees access to only the areas that they need access to. Restricted areas with confidential information remain locked and inaccessible for everyone not allowed to enter.

  • Control

A master key system allows you to keep track of the number of keys and the employees who have them.

In case of a security breach, you can easily track down the people who have access to the area in question and take the necessary action.

It also makes duplication of keys very difficult, giving the factory owners more control over the keys and the keyholders.

There are restricted master key systems that have a registered design, meaning that only a specific locksmith can duplicate the keys, that too after permission and verification.


Keyed alike locks are similar to master key systems in the sense that they employ the use of singular keys to open more than one lock. The differentiating factor is that a master key system also allows restricting access areas of the property.

Keyed alike locks are suitable for residential properties and small shops, whereas master key systems are ideal for large commercial buildings and factories that have many rooms and where access must be carefully regulated for security reasons.

As discussed above, it is necessary to implement a master key system in factories, especially if there are a lot of employees that have different access and security levels.

A professional locksmith service can help commercial properties and factories come up with a carefully planned master key system, they can assess the exact requirements, and determine the types of keys needed.


There are a few things that you need to carefully plan out before implementing a master key system in your factory.

There are certain aspects that factory owners and top-tier managers must stress on to make the implementation of a master key system easy and smooth:

  • Determining all access points

The first step is identifying all the different entry and exit points in a factory that require keyed locks, and surely there must be many considering how big the setup is.

Give careful consideration to all the main access points, ensuring none are left. A security hierarchy must then be created that corresponds to the level of security and access permissions for each area throughout the factory.

  • Access permissions

Allowing which employee to enter which area; that’s what giving access permissions means. It regulates who will possess which kind of key; master or sub-master, and is normally achieved using the organizational hierarchy of the factory.

Assigning access restrictions for users is just as important as assigning access permissions. A proper chart must be made explaining where an employee is allowed to go and where not to.


As convenient as master keys are, they require a lot of protection from theft or being misplaced since losing them means having to rekey your entire master key system.

The process can be extremely costly, especially for factories with a lot of doors and important entry points.

In addition to implementing a rigid key management system with the four important aspects discussed above, here are a few tips to help keep your factory master keys safe and avoid an unnecessary financial burden:

  • Be selective

Be very mindful about who you give the master keys to and give access to only the employees you fully trust.

To make the process easier, you must only employ people who are responsible and understand the importance of accountability.

Even though this doesn’t guarantee the safety of the master keys, it’s still a great place to start.

  • Key tracking

Keys must be given unique serial numbers and assigned to keyholders of a particular security access level. The serial numbers allow the people in charge to keep a record of the key’s access permissions and the person responsible for it.

A record must be maintained containing information about who the keys are issued to, the dates of issuance and return of the keys, and the person responsible for approving the access permissions.

  • Key storage

Keys are prone to being lost or stolen. Keys, and in particular master keys and their ancestors, must be kept safe at all costs since losing them could be a huge problem.

A proper storage facility such as a key storage cabinet must be made to provide a secure place for keeping keys and their duplicates.

Organizing becomes easy when all of the keys are stored in a single place, making it easy to quickly locate keys and identify missing ones.


Master keys can be lost or stolen if not managed properly, which can compromise the entire integrity of your factory’s security.

Access control systems are a great alternative to master key systems that offer keyless entry, giving you control over who enters your premises, keeping unauthorized access under control.

They eliminate the need for traditional keys and work using an intercom, proximity fob or card, keypad, or even a biometric system.

The system checks when the credentials are entered. If they are correct, access is granted. If not, access is denied. It also helps keep track of who enters and exits the building and alerts the owners or people in charge.

There are various types of access control systems and deciding the best one for your factory is based on factors including the nature of your setup, the number of employees, and the security procedures within the factory.


Technology has fundamentally changed security measures. Where analogue systems might falter, digital security measures ensure an added and specific level of protection.

Access control systems are increasingly replacing master key systems in both small and large businesses, including factories, allowing for smart control and the perfect balance between convenience and security.

Means of access to an access control system can be withdrawn at any time, i.e. codes and fobs can be deactivated, giving you total control over who uses it.

For added protection, access control systems can also be connected to alarm systems installed at the factory, so that access could be deactivated in the event of an alarm trigger or unlocked in the event of a fire alarm.

Where a high level of security is required, two-factor authentication can be included i.e. 2 methods of authentication such as a code plus third-party approval via video. This ensures an added level of security that is almost fool-proof.

But be wary, technology has its drawbacks. Digital systems can become susceptible to hackers and electrical faults, which can seriously compromise the security of your business.

This is why it is recommended that you employ the best of both worlds. Combing digital and analogue measures is the best way to ensure a guaranteed level of security!


Our specialist locksmiths and security engineers at Calder Security offer all types of security solutions for your factory, including master key and access control systems.

If you are unsure about the best option for you, you can count on our experts to recommend the best type of system for your needs.

We are experienced with creating sophisticated security systems and mechanisms for large scale commercial enterprises such as factories, as well as smaller businesses and residential properties.

Contact us right away for a quick consultation!


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