Multipoint Hardware Continues to Evolve

New features can provide more appeal to the North American market
By David. J. Johnson, Truth Hardware
February 8, 2011
FEATURE ARTICLE | Materials & Components

Multipoint locking systems have long been a staple of the European fenestration market. Driven by the desire for greater security, the North American market has been attempting to adopt this style for many years now. But for many reasons, pure European designs have not resonated well with consumers here.

 
 Multipoint systems are evolving to be simpler for North Americans to operate.

However, as the years passed and North American hardware companies became more familiar with the pros and cons of the European style systems, more multipoint locking options have evolved to provide door manufacturers an increasing range of choices designed specifically for the tastes of the North American market. The later generations of multipoint locking systems have not only addressed distinctions between European and North American style preferences but offer greater security, weather resistance and energy efficiency.

North American adaptations
Hardware suppliers have learned many lessons learned along the way. Early models in the North American market did not reflect the lifestyles of users. They were often overdesigned and complicated to use. More recent multipoint products incorporate many insights to better address the needs of door manufacturers and homeowners, such as versatility, functionality and ease of installation.

For example, earlier versions of multipoint locks required the entire system be engaged in order to lock the deadbolt. That was often considered a nuisance by homeowners and a security issue if the remote lock points could not be engaged due to interference. With an independent deadbolt now available on some models–sometimes referred to as a babysitter's feature–homeowners and their visitors can feel secure by simply throwing the deadbolt without having to first engage the remote locking points.

Traditional European systems featured a thumbturn located below the handle.  To improve accessibility, more recent designs for the North American market incorporate a 90° thumbturn above the handle. That's where homeowners here typically expect it to be.

 
 Hook bolts and shoot bolts enable manufacturers to offer three- and five-point locking for enhanced security and performance.
 

Market research revealed that in addition to security, consumers are becoming more conscious of the growing importance of energy ratings and how the operation of the door can optimize that. By design, multipoints have provided better performance over single-point or simple latch and deadbolt systems in this area. While tongue bolt systems have been very popular, the market is now seeing a significant increase in hook bolt style systems. Hook bolt designs offer better lead-in and taper which produce more forgiveness in the engagement of the keeper and better pull-in against the weather strip for improved thermal performance. Shoot bolts are another option, enabling door manufacturers can now go from a three-point to a five-point locking system which produces an additional level of security and improved DP ratings.

While security and energy efficiency are important components driving multipoint design, manufacturers are also looking for innovations which will result in a more reliable and smooth operating system. Many of today’s systems utilize a single direction drive bar that works both with and against gravity creating an imbalance in operation from locking to unlocking. Recent hardware designs address this problem by implementing dual direction technology. With the upper and lower drive bars operating in opposite directions, the locking mechanism works in balance resulting in a smoother operating system.

Hardware has also evolved to streamline manufacturing and ease installation. Center latches that can be reversed after the hardware is installed in the door and self-positioning anti-slam devices help make door hardware non-handed for versatility in installation and reductions in inventory. Hardware designers are also addressing concerns with installation and field service issues relative to the alignment of the door. Adjustable hinges which have the capability for both vertical and horizontal adjustment help insure the door and its locking system are aligned and operate properly for maximum performance. Ease-of-use features, such as intuitive adjustment indicators, are also being engineered into these products to make field adjustments easier to do.

Collaboration between hardware and door manufacturers can deliver more efficient engineered solutions for the factory floor while best meeting the needs of end-users and installers. Calgary-based window and door manufacturer, Gienow, relied on my company's insights and expertise to integrate this technology into their product line. Our research showed homeowners are looking for hardware style and finish options combined with increased forced entry resistance and enhanced sealing against air and water infiltration. “Because homeowners are very risk adverse when it comes to non-traditional hardware, we knew a multipoint locking system must be easy to use with a smooth operation and trouble-free reliability,” says Dave Goldsmith, Gienow’s senior design engineer. Rob Steeves, senior engineering manager with the manufacturer, credits the design, features and function of Truth's latest multipoint system, as well as its competitive price point.

North American consumers will continue to demand more secure locking mechanisms, weather resistant materials, stylish designs and innovative features. As the multipoint market continues to expand from its wood patio door origins, expect increased interest in vinyl and entry door applications. And as the systems grow in popularity, so too will the innovations that have brought this locking technology to the forefront.
 

 

David J. Johnson is the business unit manager for patio door hardware at Truth Hardware, headquartered in Owatonna, Minn. He has been with the company for more than 19 years. The supplier hardware products for door and window manufacturers most recently introduced its Sentry multipoint hinged patio door hardware.  More information is available at www.truth.com or by contacting Johnson at djjohnso@truth.com.