Skip to main content

Tecnolimit and EMKA make data traffic safe in the Netherlands


Fast internet for everyone. While German politicians are still discussing the feasibility, surfing the fibre optic network in the Netherlands is almost a fundamental right. Since 2018, the area-wide high-speed connection has been operating under the motto "fibre to the home/fibre to the desk". The necessary infrastructure has long been under construction and flows into several hundred telecommunications enclosures, which are distributed all over Holland along the roadside. The Dutch company Tecnolimit from Heusden is responsible for the design and assembly. Locking solutions made by EMKA are contained in the technology built into these control cabinets – and in order to ensure the cabinets’ physical safety, it requires the right grip technology.

When you drive across the German-Dutch border into the Netherlands, you will know the feeling: Although the speed limit is suddenly throttled to 130 km/h; however, as a motorist one has a distinct feeling that the traffic flows smoother. On the information superhighway, on the other hand, this is not just a feeling: In the Netherlands, fibre-optic connections have long been standard, while in Germany many households and companies are still being slowed down. The fibre-optic connections are made possible by the Dutch legislation that guarantees households and companies the link to the fast fibre-optic network. Since this law has been enforced, the connection is running at full speed. As a result, modern switchgear and telecommunications cabinets have increasingly appeared on the roadsides. Inside these cabinets, you will find the wiring and final continuation of the fibre optic network to the households (fibre to the home) or companies (fibre to the desk) is happening. The task of the Dutch IT system house Tecnolimit – which has been awarded the contract by a Dutch telecom provider due to the company’s innovative, turnkey solution – is to master the development and installation of these cabinets as straightforward, quickly, safely, and reliably as possible. 

Over the past few years, Tecnolimit has evolved from being a highly skilled company in the field of enclosure technology into a system house that integrates complete systems into various cabinets for ICT and industrial applications. Whether IT rack, server or control cabinet – both for outdoors and indoor applications – as well as fans or air conditioning systems: The experts are flexible and can react fast to specific customer requirements without resorting to standard solutions. As a result, Tecnolimit has become a well-known player in the Benelux countries. Tecnolimit control cabinets are fully assembled and equipped with power, wiring, cooling and/or heating, UPS, batteries and management systems, as well as surge protection; in short: turnkey and all from one source. Besides, it must be ensured that the built-in cabinet infrastructure works 365 days, 24 hours without interruption.

EMKA locking mechanisms prevent vandalism from the outside

Due to the amount of data and the relatively easy way to tap the connections contained inside the cabinet, this makes the internet-connecting control cabinets attractive to saboteurs and hackers. Even intentional damage by vandalism is on the agenda. Thus, the locking mechanism of these cabinets, usually a single lever handle, is of particular importance. The requirement of the client was clearly stipulated: First, the handle should be mechanically stable; on the other hand, the closures should be electronically monitored so that an alarm is received in the respective control centre in case of an unauthorised opening. These requirements made it clear that conventional locking technology is not an option. Before cables can be tapped inside a housing, attackers must open the cabinet at the roadside, and do it quickly and quietly. EMKA Beschlagteile GmbH from Velbert, Germany, makes sure that this does not happen, and the attacker already damages the crowbar at the lever handle. EMKA is one of the pioneers in the field of locking technology. The company is well known for extremely robust, and durable lever handles that are still easy to operate. Tecnolimit needed a solution far from the standard for its control cabinets. Among other things, a separate card reader had to be integrated to be able to perform the electronic, authorised access authorisation. Tecnolimit and EMKA have been working together in the field of locking mechanism technology for many years. Thus, Tecnolimit's Managing Director Theo de Winter had no doubts about EMKA’s competence in further developing the classic electronic swivel lever so that only an ID card can be used to open the cabinet.  
"We had to start from scratch on this project. Standard was not an option, neither in our cabinet systems nor in the locking mechanism technology”, explains Theo de Winter. "However, as we have come to appreciate EMKA over the years as an equally flexible partner with a high level of development expertise, we were sure that we would soon receive a suitable design for the electronically developed swivel handle."

Monitoring with Keyprocessor

The challenge for EMKA was, therefore, to further develop the handle to the new technical requirements while still maintaining its robustness in order to ward off physical attacks. In general, a distinction can be made between electromechanical closures (handles/locks) and complete system solutions (for access control and cabinet monitoring). When it comes to system solutions, traceability plays an essential role. Software installed in the control centre should be able to detect at what time someone attempted to open the cabinet or housing and whether this person was authorised or not. In the case of the EMKA Tecnolimit project in the Netherlands, this software is supplied by the renowned Dutch company Keyprocessor from Amsterdam. When using this software, all access authorisations can be monitored, and every opening and closing process can be documented. The controlled access for authorised persons to server racks can be realized in several ways; with the Tecnolimit cabinets, the authorisation is contactless. Handle, reader and management system work together so that the user can unambiguously identify himself via RFID card. Several thousand locking systems can be managed this way in the same wireless system.

Project completed by 2021

The schedule for the entire project was extremely tight so that EMKA had only a few months to optimise and manufacture the swivel handle, based on the new requirements, after being commissioned by Tecnolimit. However, this functioned smoothly, so that the installation of the approximately 500 control cabinets with approximately 1500 EMKA swivel handles could be started by Tecnolimit. This has been in progress since last year. The goal is to have all enclosures installed by 2021 all across the Netherlands.

Ramon Philippo, Managing Director of EMKA Benelux, summarises: "The project with Tecnolimit shows that, while our solution is only a small part of the whole, it is a very decisive one. The physical security of telecommunication enclosures stands and falls with our swivel handle. Quick response to new requirements while still delivering high quality for maximum safety was our challenge. The triangle Tecnolimit – EMKA –Keyprocessor worked very well here, in my opinion".

Tecnolimit CEO Theo de Winter draws a premature conclusion: "From design, through testing and certification to installation – this project should be done from a single source, and we gladly accepted this challenge. Even the transport to the respective locations is coordinated by us, so that we can exclude transport damage. The fact that we have a reliable partner with EMKA, whose expertise we have known and appreciated for many years, also helps us to meet the tight schedule in a timely manner. Fibre to the home and fibre to the desk are now a reality in the Netherlands – and in the most secure way."