With today's technology, smart cards and all the information they can carry are as easy to produce as standard employee photo IDs.
What is needed to start a high-volume IDing project? What are some of the new technologies on the market that help with the badging process? SECURITY magazine explored some of these issues with a few leaders in the industry. Andy Lowen, director of product marketing, Sensormatic, Lexington, Mass., Doug Karp, senior director of operation and strategic marketing, Checkpoint Systems, Thorofare, N.J., and Robert Pethick, senior product marketing manager, Lenel Systems, Pittsford, N.Y., share their insights below.

Q. What amount of badging is considered high volume?

Karp: Anything above 2,000 ID's printed per year would be considered high volume.

Lowen: It can run into the hundreds of thousands, it is a huge range. It is not just permanent workers. The amount can includes temp workers, visitors, etc.

Pethick: High volume for the access control industry is an average of 200 or more badges per day, or at least 1,000 per week. High volume for the ID industry is typically at least 200 an hour or 10,000 per week.

Q. What are some examples of market segments that have high-volume needs?

Pethick: Our high volume customers are principally in the fortune 500, transportation, petro-chemical, government, entertainment and manufacturing market segments.

Karp: Some examples are universities and colleges, government agencies, fortune 500 companies and public schools.

Lowen: / Multiple-site companies, globally-based companies-companies that have a large turnover-those with a lot of visitors and temp workers. Government agencies, which have a large turnover every 4 years, have special security needs.

Q. What can these markets do to make sure their needs are met?

Lowen: When issuing badges, a company will have to bridge between HR and security. They will use an HR database to issue the cards, so they will need to have a common link between the HR database and the security department. They will have to have the ability to provide centralized or localized administration of the cards. Consistent design will meet that need.

Pethick: When looking for a solution to meet their needs, it's not only the throughput of the printer that determines the speed of the printing process, although this must be a consideration. Other factors of importance include: the type of database that the software supports, the graphical user interface (GUI), the search engine, and product migration or scalability. All of these items affect a system's return on investment and are important considerations in determining whether the system meets the needs of customers in most market segments.

Karp: They should specify the anticipated volume, match the printer to the volume and specify the database requirements.

Q. What are some cost-effective solutions available to the end user?

Pethick: For instance, Lenel OnGuard software is a very cost-effective and scalable solution that serves small, medium, large and global installations alike.

Karp: Purchase your digital cameras retail and use multiple vendors for printing supplies.

Lowen: The more you can utilize existing systems, the more cost-effective your security implementation costs will be. Beyond that the cost of the cards, printing them, etc. is just the cost of doing business.

Q. Does the installation process differ greatly between a company with high volume needs opposed to a company without high volume needs?

Karp: No, except if multiple capture or printing stations are required.

Lowen: Definitely, you don't have to manage multiple buildings or doors. You might not even need a database. It is much simpler.

Pethick: If the solution has been designed around industry-standard software, networking and other hardware, the process should not vary with installation size. The same installation process should be used for a single, standalone badging solution as for a multi-site, dedicated server solution with many client workstations. Using client-server system architecture ensures reliability, maintainability and ease of installation.

Q. What are some technologies and advancements that have eased the installation process? i.e., software, networking.

Lowen: WAN and LAN have provided a centralized administration of cardholders, the ability to work with HR databases, which have provided a more connective solution.

Pethick: Lenel OnGuard software installations are designed using the latest Windows Installer technology from Microsoft. Windows Installer is a service engine that runs on Microsoft operating systems and handles installation packages that were created for use with the technology. Windows Installer enforces many rules for installations and organizes products on a machine using a strict registry based referencing system to ensure that the products do not break each other or the system they run on.

Karp: Some technologies are Windows- based products, SQL databases and networking of capture and printing stations.

Q. What are some of the future trends for high-volume needs?

Pethick: Since the introduction of thermal die transfer printers 10 years ago, the technology itself has not advanced much. However, several improvements have been made to the print engine hardware in the areas of speed, reliability and print quality. A few companies are attempting to produce printers for badges larger than credit card size, to serve the sporting event and government markets. There are also some companies that produce printers that will print onto any type of surface. Such printers actually print to a substrate, then transfer the imprint to a card, piece of paper or one of many other surfaces that do not need to be flat or pretreated.

Karp: Printers that print to multiple materials.

Lowen: Networking and database leveraging. Also, another trend is distributing memory storage of IDs to readers and smart memory allocation to smart card data, for smart card decision making. Integration of digital cameras during the badging process is another trend.