A taste of integrated access control

October 2012 Access Control & Identity Management, Retail (Industry)

A BSIA member was used to install a fully integrated access control, time and attendance and HR system for Ultimate Packaging. The system took advantage of non-contact smartcards to allow easy access for authorised personnel. The system was also interfaced with the company’s existing intruder alarm and CCTV systems.

Ultimate Packaging is one of the most powerful independent forces in the food packaging industry today. It has made great strides in a relatively short time and since the millennium has produced year-on-year growth. The company now employs some 200 people at their factory in Grimsby. In 2005, director, John Shaw, and IT manager, Jeremy Hodson, were in search of a first class combined access control, time and attendance, fire roll call and personnel system

“The system we finally chose was a fully integrated access control system,” said Hodson. “The main advantage of this system was that it used non-contact smartcards which are very easy to use. The software also had excellent reporting facilities. Compared to other systems I have used in the past, the integrated system we chose was easy to manage and was infinitely expandable. In essence, it is a scalable product that can grow as the business grows.”

No problems were encountered during the installation of the hardware. There were some initial software teething problems, but these were minor and soon fixed with a software upgrade. Interfaces between the integrated access control system and Ultimate’s existing intruder alarm and CCTV system were also installed. Staff were also trained in the use of the new system. Some of this was at the Ultimate site and some at the vendor’s training centre.

Hodson said that Ultimate probably does not use its access control system to its full potential, but that he intended to roll out more of the system in the coming months, especially in the area of access control and personnel. Asked what he liked most about the system, he said: “reliability and ease of use, I am not sure how we managed before we had the new system”. He also explained that they use smart key fobs as opposed to the usual smartcards. “We find them extremely reliable and unobtrusive”, he remarked.

Hodson said that they have used the vendor’s helpdesk facility and were pleased with the level of support. He was glad to report that Ultimate has not had to use the fire roll call system 'for real', but that they do test it every week and audit the printout. Ultimate is looking to deploy another smartcard attendance clock and extra access control doors to a new unit adjacent to the main site and that the network had also been extended via a fibre optic cable.

When asked if he would recommend BSIA registered companies to other businesses, he replied: “The company we chose has given us a good product and excellent service. The advantage of using a BSIA member company is that you know you are buying from an ISO 9000 accredited organisation with the backing of the security industry’s trade association.”

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