Making the right choices about your master key system

So, you’ve decided to replace or implement a new Master Key System. Now what?

After a thorough audit of your current master key system, or perhaps after finding out your system is out of patent, you’ve decided that a new master key system is what’s right for your organisation.

This can seem like a daunting process and often people don’t know where to begin, what steps to take or what they need to be taking into consideration.

So, let’s break it down.

Security requirements

There’s no one size fits all scenario when it comes to master key systems and different organisations will have different needs in terms of security, size of the business and environmental factors to contemplate. This is where due diligence becomes your best friend.

The first aspect of a new master key system to consider is your security needs. Typically, there are three main categories:

  • inline restricted
  • high security
  • maximum security

These are fairly self-explanatory, each with higher levels of security and catering to a larger more complex key hierarchy than the last.

Inline restricted systems are the lowest on the scale in terms of capabilities, are covered by a 10 year registered design and are usually suited to organisations such as strata buildings, some schools and small to medium sized offices.

High and maximum security systems are covered by a 20 year patent (at the time of patent filing) and meet Australian and International standards. However, always do your due diligence and check the remaining life of the patent. They also offer a higher resistance to malicious attacks and reverse engineering of keys which make them perfect for the likes of government bodies, defence, universities, and large organisations.

If your functionality and security requires a higher level of control such as an audit trail or the ability to simply update access permissions as required, it may be worth considering an electro-mechanical master key system like EKA CyberLock as an alternative option.


Along with your security needs, the environments in which your locks and keys are going to be used in will also play a huge factor in your decision making. Does your organisation have assets, offices and applications at different geographical locations and in different environment conditions such as exposure to rain, salt water or dust? The quality and reliability of your chosen master key system must be able to withstand these environments to ensure longevity.

Room for growth

The master key system you choose today must serve your business for many years to come, this includes allowing room for growth. Those with large and complex hierarchies tend to leave little room for expansion and change in the future. While your master key system may be perfect in present day, it may be worth considering two separate systems to accommodate for this. For example, if you’re an organisation such as a college and have two large campuses in separate locations, it might prove more beneficial to install two separate master key systems.  

Finding a locksmith

There’s been a lot to think about so far and you will have plenty to consider, however the next step of the process is finding a locksmith and planning the installation of your new master key system. It sounds straight forward and for the most part it is. But there are some important processes in between that shouldn’t be skipped.

Whether you’re issuing a tender or gathering quotations yourself, you’ll want your potential locksmiths to conduct a site survey. This will assess, record, and identify each and every one of your doors and locks so that an accurate quote can be prepared. A site survey will also help to identify any repairs that may need doing before the new installation. When obtaining your quotes, ensure that they also include the costs for any potential on going or future fees such as annual subscriptions, additional components and labour costs.

The next step, and arguably the most significant, is designing and planning your master key hierarchy. As mentioned previously, this step is crucial as it must accommodate for your present organisational needs, as well as future. Finding a locksmith who’s experienced in designing and implementing similar type hierarchies as yours is essential, as your hierarchy is like a building foundation, once it’s in place it’s very difficult to alter without starting again.

It’s also paramount to find a locksmith that is familiar and has access to your chosen master key system. Not all locksmiths stock every product available, so an easier process might be to contact the system vendor who will recommend a few locksmiths based on their capabilities that will meet your requirements.


So, you’ve chosen the type of system that suits, you’ve hired a locksmith who has access to this system, designed your key hierarchy, and now it’s go time. Installing your new master key system is generally an easy job and provides minimal disruption to a workplace. 

To help maintain your new master key system, there are a few things you can do. Investing in a master key system management software to assist in managing the keys within your system including updating the data about key holders and which keys they have is vital. Regular maintenance of your keys and hardware will go a long way in ensuring the longevity of your master key system.

For a more in-depth explanation of this entire process please read our white paper From Design to Implementation and Management – A systematic approach to Master Keying for asset, facilities and security professionals.

For more information contact EVVA Australia at or call 1300 003 882.

Comment below to have your say on this story.

If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at  

Sign up to the Government News newsletter

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required