Security solutions do more than simply protect assets and people.
The industrial, manufacturing and processing sectors are production driven, which means that the bottom line is king. All systems must be geared to ensure a return on investment on the product that goes out the door. At the same time, there is a large emphasis on compliance with health and safety regulations. Security systems, thanks to advances in intelligence and sophistication, can add value in both instances.
Says Neil Cameron, general manager of Johnson Controls Systems & Service Africa, “Security systems in these environments can add considerable value if, instead of merely protecting assets and managing access as has traditionally been the case, they are linked to enterprise systems and databases. This will not only support consistent execution of health and safety policies across multiple sites, playing a significant part in ensuring ongoing organisational compliance, but will drive productivity by allowing better planning and management of staff, equipment and facilities.”
In many industrial environments, staff that work in potentially hazardous areas must undergo regular medical exams or formally review safety procedures within a specified time period. If they do not, they put themselves and their colleagues at risk, subject the organisation to non-compliance penalties and put production and bottom-line targets in jeopardy through enforced absenteeism. With access to the right information, all of these risks can be mitigated.
Says Cameron, “If an organisation’s access system is linked to its HR systems, for example, the full medical and training status of staff entering the site or wishing to access specific areas can be viewed and acted on. In fact, with access to critical data relating to health and safety compliance, staff can be alerted to testing and courses that need to be undertaken timeously, appointments can be made and staff reminders issued on the spot.”
Another challenge for organisations in these sectors is that their operations are usually spread over multiple sites nationally. Where organisations have standalone security systems implemented at each site, there will be a lack of consistency in terms of policy and procedure. In addition, if the security systems lack intelligence, critical decisions will be left to individuals. This could make meeting company policy, and health and safety regulations difficult. Intelligent, centralised security systems can assist to resolve these challenges.
The challenge facing organisations that make use of older controllers, is that they are not IP-based and do not have the computing capacity for intelligent decision making that is driven from a remote server. Thus these organisations must deal with the additional acquisition and maintenance costs associated with having a server and standalone system at each facility or site, and deal with the resulting reliability and consistency issues.
However, a single remote server on a dedicated network such as a virtual private network (VPN) means one database with one set of rules. These solutions may also be able to incorporate intelligence from intrusion and perimeter protection systems, as well as CCTV and other systems, so better informing decision-making.
Adherence to policy and complex decisionmaking is another area where intelligent security systems can assist. This is especially important when it comes to factoring critical information into decisions in terms of closing down or halting production.
Security alerts can be linked to business critical process and intelligent security solutions will ensure alerts do not go unattended. “The alerts response requirements are configured and a record kept of actions taken. Alerts also continue to be escalated until attended to,” notes Cameron.
For many organisations in this sector the advances in security solutions can offer considerable business advantage above and beyond the very basic traditional requirements. Security solutions have advanced considerably. They are becoming an important means to ensure compliance and execution of increasingly stringent regulatory requirements. Thus, they become a strategic business solution.
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