New momentum for the profile cylinder

Sometimes a change from the outside is needed to break through entrenched structures and to approach work with a new drive. This was the case for the locking cylinder production of Zeiss Ikon at the Goerzwerke works in Berlin.

Even though the profile cylinder had proven itself to be crisis-resistant over the years and the locking cylinder business was a secure foothold for the company, the manual production could hardly cope with the increasing order volume. Thanks to the conversion from paper to IT processing and the partial automation of production, administration and production could finally be streamlined in the Goerzwerke plant.  

Invigorating company activity in the locking cylinder sector

An additional change came in 1989 – not only politically, but also for the Goerzwerke plant. On the one hand, with the fall of the Berlin wall and the opening of the market eastwards that brought new competition with it. On the other, with the integration of Zeiss Ikon into the Finnish company Oy Wärtsilä AB. The internationally operating conglomerate was above all specialised in marine and diesel engine construction. However, the company also lead the Scandinavian market for locking and access control systems with the ABLOY brand. In December 1989 Oy Wärtsilä founded Abloy Security Ltd. as a wholly-owned subsidiary, in which Zeiss Ikon was also integrated and was from then on called IKON AG Präzisionstechnik. The IKON brand was created in the same year.

For the Goerzwerke plant the takeover meant a great deal of restructuring. The new management saw a lot of room for improvement in the productivity, delivery reliability and delivery time of locking cylinder production. In order to be able to assert itself on the security market despite growing competition, it undertook streamlining and modernisation measures in production. From a technical standpoint, however, the Finns found hardly any need for change. They also recognised the high level of qualification of the employees. The main product of the Berlin operation continued to be the renowned IKON master key systems with profile cylinders.

Founding of the ASSA ABLOY Group, Stockholm

1994 was a further formative year in the history of the profile cylinder: the large Swedish company Securitas AB and the Finnish company Metra Oy Ab (formerly Wärtsilä) agreed upon a merger of its security technology divisions. Securitas Lock Group AB, which appeared mainly with the ASSA brand, took over the parts of the Abloy Security Ltd. subsidiary and the ASSA ABLOY Group was founded. As Abloy Security Ltd. was the main shareholder of IKON AG, the Berlin company automatically switched its affiliation and was now a part of the ASSA ABLOY Group. With the merger, ASSA ABLOY rose to be the market leader in the Scandinavian countries. Furthermore, with IKON AG and its affiliations, the group had a leading position in the German-speaking region, as well as the Benelux states, and, via the various subsidiaries, was also present on the British and US markets.  

A special profile cylinder for even greater security

In parallel with the upheaval in the company structure, technical innovations were continuously worked on in order to keep pace with the industry competition. This also included the IKON SK6 cylinder system, which was launched on the market in 1995. Once again, the basis was formed by the profile cylinder, but now the standard version was equipped with six pin tumblers instead of five as well as a vector profile. The vector profile is a paracentric slanted profile, which can also be equipped with an encryption on the side of the key, which are called up by blocking elements in the locking cylinder. If a key with missing or incorrect encryption is used, the locking action will be blocked. Manual opening techniques are severely hampered with the special arrangement of the profile features to one another. Compared to conventional key profiles, there is a very high security against break-ins, scanning and lock picking. Thanks to many further developments, the SK6 cylinder is therefore considered to have the highest standard in mechanical locking technology to this day.  

With the IKOTRON locking cylinder system, Zeiss Ikon had already developed one of the first microprocessor-controlled locking systems in 1986. As IKON AG Präzisionstechnik the company further expanded the system and, in 1997, finally launched the IKOTRON 1000 compact card reader for keyless door opening on the market. After the turn of the millennium, the development continued in the direction of mechatronic locking solutions. At the same time there were also further changes in the company structure: today's ASSA ABLOY Sicherheitstechnik GmbH was founded.

Read more about this in our fifth newsletter of the 90 years of profile cylinders series.