Industry moves slowly to integrated security

August 2009 News

Have the industrial, manufacturing and processing sectors in South Africa grasped the efficacy of the technology options available to them or are they simply unaware of their solutions capabilities due to poor dissemination of information by the very industry promoting their security in the first place?

Despite the growing diversity of risks facing South Africa’s manufacturing and industrial sectors, many players do not have the kind of security systems in place needed to effectively manage and protect their interests. Jack Edery, CEO of Elvey Security Technologies, says research has indicated that senior management is still relying on intuition and experience to identify major risks, and this is a major cause for concern.

Marius Greyling, CEO of innoVIZION, says managers in the sector do not adequately explore the vast capabilities of their security solutions. Traditionally, management has viewed security as a function of the security department, but, argues Greyling, who works extensively in the industrial/manufacturing sector, businesses are now realising how specialised the access control and identity management industry has become. They are experiencing its ability to empower management teams to perform better with a far closer link in to all aspects of the day to day business, plant and factory functions.

“Companies in the sector are still looking for individual hardware solutions instead of finding a total integrated solution for their business, with an end-in-mind approach. This requires a detailed upfront blueprint design phase to proper assess and document business requirements and defines related business processes,” explains Greyling. They are not going that extra step and asking the questions ‘How can we make the hardware, which is merely an important enabler, integrate with the fundamental business requirements of the entire organisation?’

Management needs to ask the question: ‘Am I looking purely at a security strategy, or am I actually needing an integrated IT, people management and security strategy?’ By doing this they will be able to take their security far deeper into their plant operations, addressing issues way beyond security, without incurring huge costs redoing some of the work later or even being forced to have to replace certain already installed hardware, etc.

“Security in the business sector per se has moved so radically into an IT and solutions-based dimension that effectively it should not be labelled security,” says Greyling. “Managers in this sector, where operations are large, labour intensive and diverse, need to solicit the services of a professional solutions design advisor, no matter the scale of their venture, to analyse how they wish to improve their overall operational excellence.”

innoVIZION’s preferred slogan is ‘integrated people management solutions’ which succinctly captures the modus operandi of the way security is moving in the industrial and manufacturing sectors. “Security and risk management go beyond a company’s employees; it reaches out to everyone who deals with your company. And it is about finding the best way to facilitate integrated people management solutions,” Greyling claims.

Integration: is the sector catching on?

There is no doubt that the solution to managing risk beyond its security capabilities is through the use of integrated systems. Edery says the development of complete solutions that provide monitoring and surveillance, digital video capture, realtime viewing, remote monitoring and management, recording, and archival/retrieval, whilst initially costly, produce a simplified process with significant long term savings.

Greyling stresses that security has moved way beyond the hardware and because of the scale of businesses in the industrial/manufacturing sector, hardware solutions should be taken to the next level of their capabilities to produce advantages beyond their simple primary function. “There is simply not enough understanding of the integration capabilities that goes behind these hardware systems and security advisors are not addressing the fundamental difference between integration and interfacing,” explains Greyling.

Both Camsecure’s Francois Malan and Greyling believe that solutions providers have also not fully understood the needs of the industry they are working in, its role players and the different security options required to maximise a company’s efficiency, turnover and spend. “Companies are spending millions putting large scale security systems together in these sectors but they are not putting the integration together,” says Malan.

Privacy and the unions

Much of today’s plant and business security technology is personally invasive. CCTV cameras, time and attendance clock in and biometrics identification are effectively sophisticated spy systems. And not everyone is happy.

According to Roy Alves, MD of Axis Security, high-tech security in highly-unionised workforces may argue that a person’s privacy is being breached with the use of advanced ID technology, but on the flip side cameras should be presented to the unions as a proactive solution in that it monitors unfair play and protects workers’ health and safety.

Alves believes that by involving highly unionised work forces in the implementation of technology such as cameras in a plant, labour forces will understand the safety aspects associated with these systems and change their attitudes to it. “Workers should also be notified in advance that cameras are being deployed into a production facility,” he says.

“Labour forces simply need to be educated,” agrees Jarryd Smith from Impro Technolgies. “Then they will understand the power of ID technology as a means of protecting their rights and their safety.”

“Biometrics and CCTV cameras more often than not protect unions. For example, a good biometrics system will not allow a miner to enter a shaft unless he is authorised by his biometric tag,” says Malan, whose company has worked both in the mining and union arenas. A miner cannot defy the system, but a manager can and this is where companies are able to root out corruption from the top.”

What are the trends in the sector?

The power of enrolment

The enrolment process has proven to be one of the most important aspects of updating existing security infrastructure: once a person’s ID and fingerprint is captured, and put into a database, this database becomes the key source for a business to monitor its staff, their hours, movements and company stock. In fact the database is the key link to all the hardware components of an integrated security system and the ultimate human resources informant.

Software solutions

According to Elvey Security, the single most important and appealing factor in any business is its software-based flexibility which makes system design and upgrades both cost-effective and viable. This trend is timeless.

Integration into other systems

A decent time and attendance solution has become critical in many organisations within the industrial and manufacturing sectors in order to curb the stealing of time by labour. Card solutions are nowhere near foolproof enough; Buddy clocking is easy and it is rife – a fellow colleague can swipe his friend’s card through a system and clock him in for a day’s work without him even being on site.

Biometrics is definitely the most popular solution for access security and time and attendance identification in the sector. “Fingerprint technology far exceeds all other biometric options at present, because the level of fingerprint readers is fantastic,” says Smith. “Labour intensive companies are seeing it as an absolute must for future proofing their systems and the dividends far outweigh the cost. Systems are scalable so the outlay cost is worth it.”

Fingerprint technology is now so sophisticated that it is able to overcome issues such as wear and tear on scarred fingers. Identifying deeper skin levels within the epidermis, some even looking at vein recognition, others recording several readings of an individual’s fingerprint onto the system allowing for a best search in difficult readings, are all common in the sector.

Denis Guard from Dengard Systems concurs. “It is not difficult to sell biometrics, even to the smaller organisations. The bigger enterprises are buying into the solution extensively. We have just equipped 18 sites at Rand Water with biometric solutions and the organisation has benefited by the tighter monitoring controls it has introduced. The previous card system was just not working as too many people were fooling the system.”

And Malan says that the biometrics systems that his company has implemented has resulted in a significant change in the human resources element within his clients’ businesses. Stealing time is a thing of the past thanks to the integration of payroll and biometrics resulting in a huge return on investment for companies in the sector.

Fingerprint control can also be tied in with video footage. Events can be tagged and through the biometric solution an individual’s every move can be observed.

CCTV and video and TCP/IP

Closed circuit television is continually advancing and according to Kenny Chiu, Elvey marketing manager, it is proving to be the most effective and popular method of monitoring employees’ activity. For effective control and monitoring of staff, cameras based on IP (Internet Protocol) are a popular choice says Chiu. Industrial managers like the control of monitoring all aspects of their security remotely, anywhere in the world.

IP cameras are popular because they are versatile and anyone can install them says Guard. “They fit into any system and because of their versatility, cost is not a deterrent. Bigger enterprises such as MTN or Rand Water are realising that it is cheaper to go with IP cameras. While it may be a more expensive outlay for the smaller enterprises, the value of this technology still outweighs the cost.

Exception monitoring

According to Malan, the sector is definitely seeing a move to event and exception monitoring thanks to its speed and ease of use; monitoring on continual footage all day is time consuming and fast becoming a thing of the past.

Video integration is working well in partnership with other security measures such as access control. And companies are buying into these solutions to protect not only their assets but their labour force. Companies like Unilever have allowed CCTV camera surveillance to have an audit trail of loading, off loading, weighing procedures, visitor movement, health and safety compliance, compliance with other internal controls and procedures from an accounting point of view. Vehicle accidents in loading and offloading areas can be monitored, perimeter surveillance warns of intruders – all ultimately reducing stock shrinkage.

Mapping software

Cutting-edge systems also offer mapping software, which while still growing in popularity, is so advanced that it can provide the location of an alarm to within 10 feet. Optimised for perimeter and central security control room applications, it can reside in either a local area network (LAN) or wide area network (WAN).

Integrating fire warnings

Smoke detectors are now part and parcel of an integrated security system, particularly in the industrial and manufacturing sector, where risk of fire is high. They form a key part of an early warning alarm system, detecting fire before it becomes unmanageable or sprinklers damage stock. A fire system integrated into the larger network is fundamental to organisations with access control systems where alarms need to be automatically deactivated and pass-back switched off to protect staff. Insurance companies insist on fire security.

Building management

Smith says companies in the sector are fast turning to complete building management systems that integrate into the whole IT and security system too. The ability to control all your building functions including airconditioning and lighting alarms through one central system is the way businesses is moving. “To integrate an entire plant on one backbone is becoming very sought after,” he concludes.

Progressive or complacent?

Other security pundits argue however, that a large portion of the industrial and manufacturing sector have old systems in place and begrudge the idea of updating because they have spent what they needed to on security already and why should they do it again. But technology has changed so radically – criminals have upped their game and what worked five years ago cannot be compared with the speed and efficiency of what you find now, experts argue.

Alves says many businesses in the sector are unaware that their high capacity – and often underutilised – networks make adding new technology to the system easy. “It is about education rather than complacency,” he says.

Big business is certainly not complacent, says Guard, however, while many smaller companies are starting to understand the benefits of technology solutions, there are still many companies relying on the old guard system because it is less costly.

On the other hand, cost factors are not stalling big enterprises’ choice of product in this sector. Guard adds that for companies like Rand Water and Bearning Man Group, both his clients, the accuracy of the biometrics system, which comes with a higher price tag than card technology, far outweighed the inadequate job the outdated, less productive card systems were doing.

A biometrics system will cost up to 10 times more than that of a traditional reader, but the long term savings of this type of system are priceless. “To be able to audit that a person was at a certain place at a certain time, is hugely beneficial to this industry,” says Malan.

Furthermore, seamless integration through parameter driven solution frameworks into existing systems also creates tangible savings. “Customers can in some instances simply expand their existing setup,” says Greyling. “And the cost of maintenance is reduced significantly.”

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