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Benefits of standards

Independent security standards are the lifeblood of the physical security industry in the UK, but when you start looking further afield into a global market, you quickly discover that isn’t always the case. Key physical security standards in the UK include:

– LPS (Loss Prevention Standard) 1175 – more detail at LPS 1175 Security Ratings explained;
– Pas 24;
– Secured By Design – see the SBD website for more; and
– EN 1527.

If the security industry in any country is to develop positively, third party security standards are essential. Here are important reasons why:

1) They give specifiers information on the product they can rely on

When a product has a certificate to show that it has been certified to a certain level, it provides a guarantee on the minimum performance of that product. This means that architects and security consultants can be confident that when they specify a product certified to a certain security level, they know exactly the attack tool and the attack time that product can resist. Although this seems obvious (and it is – it’s the whole point of third party accreditation) – in some markets it’s just not there. An example of this, surprisingly, is the USA. There is no widely adopted security standard, so specification decisions are largely based on the performance claims of the manufacturer. In practice, this essentially means that success is more down to how good your marketing is than how good your product is.

This leads on to the second point:

2) They focus manufacturers on improving product performance.

When specifiers are calling for a 3rd party accredited product, it makes commercial sense for manufacturers to invest in R&D and testing to certify their products to that standard. When there is no widely adopted standard, it’s a lot harder for manufacturers to justify the significant investment that comes with attaining and maintaining the standard – it makes more sense for them to invest in marketing and getting their brand out there. Whilst on the surface this may not seem like such a bad thing, it’s the worst possible scenario for the end users of these products. Because manufacturers have less of a motivation to invest in product development, over time the quality and performance of those products begins to decline, because of the third point;

3) Independent standards avoid a race to the bottom on price

Although being competitive on price is still clearly important, even when standards are widely used, the presence of a standard does reduce the importance of price in a buying decision. For example, if a security consultant has specified an LPS 1175, SR2 Door, then there’s a limited range of manufacturers that can produce this, so while price still has an impact, its not the definitive factor.

On the other hand, had a ‘security door’ been specified, it opens the project to any manufacturer who claims their door is ‘secure’ and price suddenly becomes a much larger influence on the buying decision. This tends to result in manufacturers slashing costs on the actual product where possible, and whilst intelligent value engineering is usually positive for an industry, if there is no independent standard then there’s no limit to how much can be taken out of a product before the performance is too low.

In conclusion therefore, while the barriers to entry and up-front investment manufacturers face with third party standards can be painful, the long-term benefits for the industry far outweigh these. Specifiers and end-clients of these products ultimately benefit the most when they adopt independent security standards, and the influence they bring to buying decisions provides an incentive for manufacturers to invest into product R&D and performance.


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