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Warehouse Security: Choosing The Right Warehouse Locks

Warehouse Walkthrough

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When most people consider warehouse security, their mind goes straight to things like security guards and security cameras. And there is nothing wrong with those methods of protection, but they require human beings to act in order to be effective. Therefore they active security. They need active human beings to stop an issue once it is detected. Think of a warehouse lock as passive security, which protects a given location or item without the need for human intervention.

Because a warehouse lock only needs to be properly installed in order to deliver its full security potential, they are incredibly helpful when you are implementing your warehouse security measures. Sure a warehouse lock can benefit from a security camera or a guard, but without people on staff at the location, your locks are still working to maintain your warehouse security. But in order to get the most out of your warehouse locks, you need to know how to choose the right device for your warehouse security needs. Here is what you should consider.

Basic Warehouse Lock Characteristics

1. Metal Content

How strong a lock is, has to do mainly with the type of metal used to construct the various parts of the lock. The most important parts of the lock to have strong metal are the exterior housing, bolt(s), shackle, and the other parts of lock that will be targeted. You want the metal to be hardened, and for any set screws and other drill points to be covered. As destructive entry is likely the most obvious concern for your warehouse security, you want a warehouse lock with strong metal composition.

Certain mass produced locks that you will find in the lock section of a Home Depot will have softer metal, such as brass and even plastic, used to construct portions of the lock that need stronger resistance to forced entry methods. When a warehouse lock claims to use hardened steel, do not take the claim at face value. Alloys vary in the steel used for locks. At this time, boron carbide is one of the best available examples of strong metal content for warehouse locks.

2. Cylinder Complexity

If you are at all concerned with the threats of covert or surreptitious entry overwhelming your warehouse security, you will want a lock that has greater internal complexity. The most basic form of warehouse lock that has cylinder complexity would be something with security pins. Even a pin tumbler lock with security pins will have some level of bump key resistance.

When you are looking for greater cylinder complexity, you can take a look at alternative lock types. But be aware that even things that may seem like they are high-security, such as disk determiner locks, tubular locks, cruciform locks, etc., have particular vulnerabilities. But every lock can be picked. It is just that some locks are unlikely to be picked by burglars and criminals.

3. Key Blank Accessibility

When key control is a large concern for your warehouse security, you want to be able to limit the accessibility of the key blanks for your warehouse locks. With most common locks, a key can be duplicated with just a simple trip the hardware store. Even if you have gone through all of the trouble to stamp each key issued to an employee with a “DO NOT DUPLICATE” mark, the key can still be copied.

The way to stop anyone who gets their hands on a key from making a copy, unbeknownst to the warehouse management or warehouse security staff, is to invest in a warehouse lock that has a patented key. Most of the companies that make the best door locks will have patented keyways. This is not a foolproof solution, and people can still get their hands on patent breaker keys and the like, but it will take a lot of knowledge, skill, and time. The more of any of those things you require from criminals, the less likely they are to ever target you.

Types of Warehouse Locks

1. Padlocks

For perimeter warehouse security, sometimes gates and warehouse docking stations will require the use of padlocks. Depending on the value of what your locks are protecting, you might want to invest in one of the best padlocks in the world. The specific things you want to consider about your padlocks is that no matter how strong they are, they still need to be secured to a strong hasp or chain.

If your warehouse lock is stronger than what it is being secured to, the lock will be ignored, and the criminal will attack the weakest part of your warehouse security. You want to have a reliable set of structures, similar to what you need for something like bicycle security, so the padlock can have a strong shackle and strong lock body that is at the same level as the other materials. It is unlikely that you will use padlocks beyond your perimeter security.

2. Door Handles

Keyed or locking door handles/knobs are mainly used for interior doors. If you are using warehouse locks that are part of a door handle, you should accompany this lock with a deadbolt. Door handle locks do not offer much in the way of warehouse security because the lock cylinders control a spring-loaded latch. These locks can be defeated by the credit card method or by another type of feeler gauge. Door handle hardware and their lock cylinders are less likely to be targeted because most criminals will focus on depressing the spring-loaded latch.

Go to your warehouse lock and while the door is ajar, lock the door handle. You can press down on the metal latch and see that even while in the locked position, the latch will depress. No matter which way the door installed, a slim material can be used to fit between the door and the frame to depress the latch. Just make sure that you fix your door handles so they are working properly. A malfunctioning door handle can give the appearance of functionality while undermining the security of your other warehouse locks.

3. Deadbolts

The main lock that a door will use for any building is a deadbolt. Warehouse security will rely very heavily on deadbolts much like any other structure. And because destructive entry is the most likely method a criminal will use to attack your warehouse locks, how much force your deadbolt can take gravely affects the success of your warehouse security. For any exterior door, you want to install a deadbolt. And if there are any doors that are being relied on for security, they should use at least one deadbolt.

Find out if you are using the right lock for your door, then make sure you have enough locks on the door. But more locks does not necessarily mean a stronger door. You need a strong door, or much like the concerns for padlocks, what the warehouse lock is secured to will fail before the lock itself. When you are considering deadbolts for your warehouse security, be sure that you have put in the time and resources to improve the strength of your door.

Warehouse Security Concerns

1. Employee Theft

Most of the warehouse security that centers around employee theft are based on documentation and surveillance. If you are going down this avenue with your warehouse security, be sure you know some facts about using security cameras. In a workplace setting, it takes more than just having the best security cameras in order to discourage theft, discover it, and not violate the law in the process. I would put forth that a reliance on surveillance does not solve this warehouse security concern, and this is where locks come into play.

The main consideration for a warehouse lock that is intended to halt employee theft is cylinder complexity and key blank accessibility, as unlawful covert entry is most likely. Using something like a master key system, you can restrict the access that your employees have to certain parts of the warehouse. Utilize warehouse locks that can control where workers can go. Keeping staff in the areas that are relevant to their work allows you to lower your exposure to the risk of employee theft and zero in on the culprit(s) if there ever is an issue.

2. External Theft

When you look at the facts of who is stealing from businesses, the threat of external theft may not seem all that pressing. However, depending on your industry, location, and other extenuating factors your warehouse may be under this type of threat. You should not confuse statistics with your own anecdotal reality. So if this is a concern, the aspect of your warehouse locks that you should focus on is physical construction.

This includes using a warehouse lock that has strong metal content, but you should also make sure that the intervals of the lock are strong. You do not want to use a lock that seems hardy, but is really only giving you the illusion of security. In this case, we are talking about susceptibility to bypass methods. These are covert forms of entry that require very little skill. Mainly they require the knowledge that the bypass exists, and from there, anyone can use them to undermine your warehouse security.

3. Disasters

Depending on the daily operations, location, and dealings of a specific warehouse, there may be specific hazards that your location may face. These could be based on chemical spills, fires, floods, earthquakes, etc. But other than that, you might also need to think about the threat of an armed attacker. In the era of terrorism, no industry is safe from the threats of terrorist activity.

You need some form of risk assessment in order to determine your threats, but when it comes to your warehouse locks the focus should be on the ease of egress. You need locks to be set up so people can quickly evacuate the warehouse in the event of a disaster. In pretty much any dangerous situation, it will be preferable to be able to leave the warehouse. For that reason, your warehouse security needs to protect people by not keeping staff in the building. Let the good people leave while you are keeping the other people out.

Warehouse Safety Tips

  • Don’t focus on active warehouse security, such as cameras and security guards, to the exclusion of warehouse locks (passive security).
  • You need a mixture of passive and active warehouse security.
  • Make sure locks are strong, internally complex, and protected by patents.
  • Know what lock to use from the available options.
  • Consider what type of threats you are trying to curb with each warehouse lock.


Warehouse security is more than just which warehouse lock you use. But which warehouse lock you choose does matter. There are many facets to warehouse security that have nothing to do with warehouse locks. But you cannot use that to underestimate just how much a good warehouse lock matters to overall warehouse security. Make the proper investments based on the characteristics of the good lock. Use the right lock for each warehouse security situation, and do that by knowing what you should be concerned about. Once you have done all of that, you will have no trouble navigating all of the options for warehouse locks.

Category: Commercial, Lock Types, Safety & Security

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