Operating as a division of VingCard Elsafe, VingCard Marine is the world’s leading supplier of marine locks and access control systems. VingCard Elsafe itself has been part of the Assa Abloy AB Group since 1994, which is the largest independent lock group in the world. Combining tradition with innovation, the VingCard brand has a strong reputation for creating solutions to the security challenges of the hospitality industry. In fact, it was a VingCard company that invented the world’s first recordable card lock in 1979.
From its headquarters in Norway VingCard Marine specialises in electronic card locks, access control systems, gangway & muster evacuation scanning and general security systems for all vessel types across the world, such as cruise liners, ferries and offshore in addition to merchant trade shipping. Gerald McMillan, vice president of VingCard Marine elaborates: “In addition to our headquarters we also operate sites in the US and Singapore enabling us to provide a local service nd necessary support to our clients. Our largest area of operations is in the installation of passenger and crew cabin door systems for large cruise ships covering the majority of all cruise owners. We also operate within the ferry markets and undertake work for the offshore industry on supply vessels and rigs.”
Reflecting on what sets VingCard Marine apart from its competitors, Gerald comments: “Certainly the quality of our products is a major competitive advantage. A lot of our competitors also deal in hotels, whereas VingCard Marine as a separate business division is focused solely on the marine industry and this is reflected in our vessel support network. One of the main reason clients come to us is because as a company we go beyond the supply and installation of a product, we also work to develop complete solutions, which integrate with the current systems onboard a vessel. A cruise ship key card is very different to a hotel key card – it is also an ID card and a credit card. So if you board or leave the ship the card will be scanned to register this or if you visit the bar your key card will work like a credit card. Over the years we have worked to develop this one card solution, which incorporates all of these different functions. In terms of this technology many clients see us as a partner rather than a supplier.”
With over 25 years of experience in the demands of this market, it is easy to see why VingCard Marine has a reputation for producing systems, which address clients’ actual needs. Although magnetic stripe key cards are still prominent in the hotel market due to lower costs, increasingly newer technologies are being incorporated onboard vessels. “Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is increasingly being viewed as the next step from magnetic stripe key cards,” says Gerald. “This is due to the chip component, which as well as being used to open doors, can incorporate a lot of other functions. The two new Disney Cruise vessels – Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, are the first projects to have RFID incorporated on vessels of that size.
“Six months ago we also delivered a new online system to the Norwegian cruise liner, the Norwegian Epic. The systems operated in hotels are offline in the sense that when you lose your key card, the old one will continue to operate the door until you put the new one in and cancel it. So there is no communication between the systems. Whereas with the online system on the Norwegian Epic you can send commands to the door and the door can send commands back to a central system. This means that anytime you use your key card on that door it will register the time on a central server.”
The increased communication capabilities of the new online system provide a vast array of benefits to users as Gerald describes: “This technology is quite pioneering within the industry and currently VingCard are the only company running functional online systems. Although the Norwegian Epic is the first vessel we have installed the system into, we have already implemented it in hotels in Las Vegas. In terms of security, the system will sound an alarm at the central control area if a passenger’s cabin door is not closed properly. Equally it will also alert security if anyone attempts to break into the room through the door. This is a very new and pioneering system compared to those currently operated in the market, with quite a vast range of capabilities.”
VingCard Marine is focusing on the continued development and redefinition of these new technologies over the coming years, whilst always keeping one eye out for the next industry challenge: “Increasingly we will see these technologies introduced into new build vessels, as well as through complete upgrades of systems onboard existing ships. Naturally we will continue to push this technological development further in line with the market. Safety and security are both major concerns today, but they actually operate at opposite ends of the spectrum. For example you can have a switch that locks every door on a vessel. This makes it very secure but not particularly safe if a fire breaks out as no one can exit the vessel. Developing systems, which not only meet all legislation and safety codes, but also incorporate the right blend of safety and security is incredibly challenging. At VingCard Marine we take these issues and using our expertise develop or adapt technology into a solution,” concludes Gerald.
Leading innovators in key card systems
Implementing new ‘online’ system
Developers of complete solutions