Key Management System Options - Which One Is Right For You?

Many businesses can be overwhelmed with managing keys between multiple staff, customers, or guests - the need for key management is as old as keys themselves.

Most businesses have been relying on sign-out sheets and hooks on a wall, or expensive legacy key management lockers for decades. Fortunately, emerging IoT technologies have recently enabled modern, cloud-based key control systems that can really help the bottom line of any business.

While we do live in an increasingly digital world, physical keys aren’t going anywhere soon, as the cost to digitize fleets of keys can be prohibitive for most businesses.

Modern technology companies have come up with high-security, digitized options to help you keep track of, store, and authorize the use of physical keys in your organization. These range from simple open-display setups to highly advanced, cloud-based solutions that can manage thousands of keys from a smartphone or PC.

Before we get into the two major ways in which key management systems are designed, let’s discuss the basics.

What Is A Key Management System?

In this article, we’re looking closer into a much more hands-on problem - how to manage, store, and assign physical keys to various individuals in an organization. These electronic key management systems offer a reliable and convenient solution for on-site room, building, and even vehicle access.

As businesses in various industries grow and expand their operations, so does the level of complexity in their key management needs.

You can observe this in a large variety of applications, such as:

  • Short-term rentals
  • Property management
  • Car rental agencies
  • Hotels
  • Auto dealerships
  • Construction sites
  • Warehousing
  • Truck and shipment companies
  • Educational institutions
  • Facilities
  • Any business using multiple keys shared between multiple people

Because key control systems are used in many applications, this often means that the actual systems in use can have many design variabilities.

Choosing which key management software system is best for your company depends on the workflow your company requires. Do you need one-time guest access, internal staff access to all keys all the time, or tightly managed groups of keys between different levels of staff?

Once you have mapped out your specific business needs, it will help you determine the right key management system for you.

What Kinds of Key Management Systems Are Available?

Electronic Key Management Systems come in all shapes and sizes - depending on the user profile, of course. In this article, we’ll be shedding light on two of the most popular types of systems available today:

Pegboard Key Systems

All keys are visible either through a clear door or after opening the door. Keys are attached to a peg with a tamper-proof ring, then inserted into the pegboard system which locks the peg in. When a user is authorized for a certain key, the peg unlocks and the key can be taken.

Pegboard systems offer a quick, simple, and easy solution - here’s a few companies that offer products in this category:

  • Real-Time Networks
  • Morse Watchmans
  • Keyper Systems
  • Traka 21
  • KeyTrak

Locker Key Systems

Each key is locked in an individual compartment, so nothing is visible from the outside, and when a key is accessed no other keys are seen. The individual compartments ensure that no one else has physical access to your keys - a useful feature when several strangers have to share the same system, rather than a group of coworkers.

When a user authenticates themselves and selects a key to access, the individual compartment opens up, providing access to the keys inside. There’s no confusion as to which key to take because there is only one option - making the system easy to use for trained staff, or one-time guests or customers.

Here are a few companies that offer locker systems for key management:

  • Matrix
  • Creone
  • ShareBox
  • Keycafe

Locker vs Pegboard - Which One Is Better?

While both locker and pegboard systems have various benefits, we believe that not all key management systems are created equal.

Think about first impressions - locker systems offer a much cleaner look that’s ideal for customer-facing applications, while pegboards are a lot messier and can be an eyesore, especially when put into waiting rooms or other customer-facing areas. Locker systems also immediately cut out any confusion between different keys, as the system leaves no room for guesswork.

Do pegboards store more keys? Sure, but they can get quite messy to deal with in the case of large keyrings or multiple car fobs.

Add to this the value of keeping your keys hidden from any other system users, and you’ve got a great case in favor of locker systems over pegboard ones.

What Does A Good Key Management System Offer?

The goal of any key management system is to prevent key loss and ensure authorized access only. There is no one size fits all solution for key management as each business sector has unique challenges, whether it be managing a fleet of vehicles, a portfolio of properties, or hotel after-hours check-in.

The Keycafe cloud-based key management software provides multiple different workflows that can be tailored for your exact requirements.

24/7 Key Management

You can easily access your keys, fobs, or keycards at any time, without needing to contact system admins. As long as you have permission, you’re good to go.

IoT Connected SmartBox

The Keycafe SmartBox is always connected, enabling real-time access management from anywhere using an app. Provide access to a key, or revoke access to all keys instantly ensuring authorized access at all times.

Cloud-Based Granular Permissions

With advanced scheduling capabilities, you can grant key access not just by person, but also by time slot and by predetermined groups.

Easy History Audits

Looking for a possible security leak? This system ensures that every single interaction in your system is accounted for, with a complete, auto-updated list of all deposits and withdrawals at the key, user, and SmartBox levels.

Highly Modular

The SmartBox comes in several different variations and is highly scalable even across different locations. Start off with a modest 7-locker setup, and build into the hundreds as your organization expands.

API and App Integrations

If you’re already running with your own proprietary software, Keycafe offers a robust set of developer resources to help their key management solution fit into your business’ digital ecosystem.

Multiple Access Options

Unlike many other locker systems, Keycafe doesn’t limit you to a single method of access. You can authorize clients and employees through a touchscreen-input pincode, 2-factor authentication tools, a smartphone app, physical key fobs, and even user badges.

Solid Build Quality

The SmartBox is constructed from cold-rolled steel and A383 alloyed aluminum which is commonly used in automotive and aerospace applications - making the unit much harder to physically tamper with.


No two organizations have the same security requirements - often you’ll find that key authorization even with different sites in the same area can differ significantly. Keeping track of keys in a regular household is challenging enough - what about an entire workplace?

Fortunately, the excellent technologies we’ve discussed today help make key management an absolute breeze. If Keycafe’s innovative solution interests you, contact the sales team today to keep your keys in perfect order.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do the costs of pegboard versus locker key systems compare?

The comparison between pegboard and locker key management systems involves various factors, including security level, capacity, and intended use, which influences their cost-effectiveness for different organizational needs.

Can these key management systems integrate with other security systems within an organization?

These systems can often integrate with broader security frameworks, offering enhanced access control and monitoring capabilities.

What are the long-term maintenance requirements and costs associated with these systems?

The long-term maintenance of these systems varies, with digital solutions requiring updates and physical systems needing occasional servicing to ensure reliability and performance.

Ready for smart key management?

Configure and purchase your smart key deployment in minutes. Our 24/7 support team will work with you to setup your solution and ensure its a success. If Keycafe is not the right fit for you business, you may return it for a fully refund for up to 45 days!

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