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Your local locksmith creates, implements, and maintains the master key system that protects your facility.  The system is created based upon the initial keying conference, with room in the system to allow for expansion.  Any changes or additions to the facility or the system can be systematically addressed for proper key function, and to eliminate unwanted key exchange, after another keying conference.

Once installed, the master key system and its bitting array (the chart showing the system and how the keys are cut) will be maintained and secured by the local locksmith. (The average life expectancy of a master key system is less than five years).

At some point in time, either due to a change in personnel, or contractor involvement, the facility may request a copy of the bitting array.  This is usually a red flag to the locksmith, which may signal that another locksmith may be involved for some reason.  Now, locksmiths are fairly independent individuals, and may not like someone else working on a master key system and compromising it. 

As a rule of thumb, if the creation of a master key system is not specifically mentioned in the original invoice, the locksmith who created it owns it.  There is a substantial amount of time and energy involved in creating a master key system, and most locksmiths usually do not list on the invoice as a line item the master key system.  The idea here is so the locksmith will continue to be the one who maintains the system.  If the key bitting array is requested, there may be a fee for that information, and quite a few locksmiths will issue a letter stating they will no longer work on or be responsible for that system.

All this may seem like a job security situation here, but in reality: if there is an incident involving keys and the master key system, that locksmith may be sitting in the witness chair in a lawsuit.  The locksmith can defend his own system, but not if it has been tampered with.

Some of my best conversations have been with facility managers that are interested in their facility’s safety and security, and have taken the time to become familiar with some of the ins and outs of master key systems.

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