Integrated security and operational efficiencies

June 2013 Integrated Solutions, Mining (Industry)

Neil Cameron, GM, Johnson Controls System & Service Africa.
Neil Cameron, GM, Johnson Controls System & Service Africa.

Controlling the theft of highly precious commodities and other valuable assets is one of the major challenges facing mining organisations on a daily basis. Gold, platinum, diamonds, computer equipment and vehicles serve as tempting targets for both internal thieves and organised crime syndicates. Dealing with these threats requires a complete, integrated security solution that addresses all areas. Not only will this deliver enhanced security, but also will add value in other operational areas within the organisation.

Raw materials brought out of the ground are highly valuable and offer an inviting target for both opportunistic employees and external criminals. While there are no clear figures of the total losses, this problem is very common within the mining industry. The stolen materials, which are sold on a thriving black market, affect a mine’s profitability and risk profile. And as commodity prices increase, the attraction to criminals will only grow.

An integrated security solution, using a standards-based open platform to bring together the various components of mine security, is crucial in dealing with this threat and minimising any damage. Mines typically employ many security products, including access control, video surveillance, X-ray machines and more. A single platform that uses open standards and is specifically designed for the mining environment can interface with a variety of different products and solutions.

The platform allows alarm signals to be customised with relevant information sent to the appropriate people during an event. For example, if an intrusion is detected, an alarm can be sent to the mine manager and the technical and security staffs with specific instructions for each function to ensure that the correct action is taken and escalation procedures are followed. Stop-and-search functionality can be integrated and enhanced based on the risk profiles of individual workers. Having access to workers’ backgrounds, employment history and security checks will improve the likelihood of stopping and searching the right people.

Access control can also be linked to video surveillance to ensure that workers do not gain access to unauthorised areas. If an employee has improperly entered a restricted area, corrective action can be taken immediately. Integrating multiple systems ensures that information from motion detectors, recorded video, intrusion alarms and other systems also can be collected for forensic review of events and to help make changes to enhance security where needed.

An integrated system can also address health and safety issues. Each access control card can be customised to allow entrance only to those areas where an individual employee is authorised and trained to be – helping to protect worker safety. Video and access systems can help ensure that maximum capacity for areas is not exceeded. By linking employee health profiles into the access database, an integrated security system can help ensure that workers are not X-rayed beyond safe limits.

Multiple systems can add to the complexity of mine security. Having different strategies for dealing with each system increases risk and reduces effectiveness. But using an integrated platform provides mines with a single, cohesive and well thought-out security strategy and single point of control for the entire facility, customised according to the risk profile of that specific environment. This improves overall security, while decreasing risk and assisting with assurance of health and safety compliance.

Integrated security solutions also offer substantial savings potential for mines. Mining organisations can yield higher profits by preventing and deterring theft and loss of assets. Those higher profits, along with a decreased risk profile, can improve share value. Improved security also helps to protect the miners from exploitation by organised criminals. Lowering the success rate of theft attempts makes it more difficult for syndicates to blackmail or otherwise use the miners to commit crimes against their employers. And the benefits of integrated security solutions go beyond preventing theft by offering operational tools for improved training, meeting regulatory and compliance issues, required certifications and more.

Mining is a highly competitive industry. Keys to profitability are volume and productivity. By enhancing security, health and safety and other operational issues through an integrated security platform, mine operators can take a critical, proactive step toward improving overall performance.

For more information contact Johnson Controls, +27 (0)11 921 7141,,


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