The Different Types of Key Systems, Explained

SmallBizClub lists electronic door locks as one of several essential ways to secure an office building. Some of the others include cameras, sensors, and on-site security personnel.

However, if you plan to secure your building with more traditional locking mechanisms, you should know the types of key systems available. This will allow you to choose the one that’s best for your business needs.

Read on to learn more about the various types of locks and keys and how you can utilize them.

Types of Cylinders

There are several types of business key systems that you can use to secure your premises. But to understand which would work best for your needs, you should know the three types of cylinders.

Standard Cylinder

A cylinder lock or pin tumbler lock is a lock with a tumbler mechanism and keyhole within a cylinder. It contains a variety of pin lengths that match the pattern of the key. The pins move into position when the key is inserted. The key then turns and the door unlocks.

Interchangeable Cylinder

An interchangeable cylinder is also referred to as IC or an interchangeable core. As its name entails, this type of lock has an adaptable cylinder. You can remove the interchangeable core from one type of lock and install it into another. Despite the change, it does not require the disassembly or removal of any components.


e-Cylinders or electromechanical cylinders use electronic data encryption along with mechanical locking intelligent solutions. It provides access control and security features. It also allows you to add other features. These include audit trail retrieval at any opening and key scheduling. 

Types of Key Systems

Key systems allow organizations to effectively secure their business. It’s a crucial part of every company’s security program. Once properly managed and designed it can limit losses to a business.

Central Key System

The central key system has individual keys that unlock one or a few central cylinders. This is often the case in an apartment complex where a tenant can open the main entrance and other common areas within the building with his/her apartment key.

Central Key System and Technical Master Key

This system includes a technical master key or additional key that unlocks several central cylinders. This can also occur in an apartment complex where a tenant can open the main entrance and other common areas with his/her apartment key. There is also a technical master key available to open the common areas that a technician may have in his or her possession. 

Master Key System

This system uses one master key to unlock all cylinders in the existing locking system. A business owner might have a master key that unlocks the entrance and several doors within the office building.

Grand Master Key System

A grand master key system has two or more master key systems. These are usually referred to as group keys. The grand master key is the key that unlocks all the cylinders within the system.

A perfect example of this system is often found in a large organization where different department heads have keys that unlock the doors within their area or department.

Secure Your Most Valuable Assets

Running an office building is a huge responsibility. In addition to the ongoing maintenance, you must ensure you protect your employees, customers, and physical assets and data.

The use of locks and keys is the most basic way to do this. But not just any lock and key system will do. You must understand how business key systems work and find the one that’s best for your business. For additional tips that can help your company, check out our Business section.