Complete security solution for Unilever

May 2009 Integrated Solutions

Unilever implemented fire and intruder detection, as well as surveillance solutions at its new 40 000 square metre warehouse in Pietermaritzburg.

Unilever supplies 400 brands spanning 14 categories of home, personal care and foods products. Brand portfolio ranges from Lipton, Knorr, Dove and Omo, to local brands such as Blue Band and Suave.

The company required an access control, fire detection, surveillance and intruder detection solution at its new 40 000 square metre warehouse in Pietermaritzburg, as well as for a small office component at the site. The warehouse serves as Unilever’s regional distribution centre.

“As it was a new facility there were no existing controls and the client needed to prevent, monitor and record any unauthorised activity and be sure that business controls and processes are adhered to,” explains IDtek’s Julian Thorrold.

The developer issued a tender to certain system installers based on predetermined criteria. Submissions were evaluated on functionality and price and the ability to deliver in terms of the scope of the product.

The technology was recommended by a consultant from M. Peterson & Associates, who had visited various landmark sites where tenants had faced similar business and operational risks to ascertain what technology and design had been implemented and whether it had been providing the desired results.

IDtek was retained to supply:

* A biometric access control solution to ensure that only authorised employees enter the facility and that the correct information with regard to work hours is collected for payroll.

* Vesda systems to detect any smoke in the facility at a very early stage before fire becomes unmanageable or sprinklers damage stock.

* Camera surveillance to record movement of people and vehicles in the facility. Unilever now has 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 also be monitored, perimeter surveillance warns of intruders and shrinkage is also reduced by use of surveillance.

* Intruder detection to prevent unauthorised access and protect all high value items are protected, as are people working after hours.

Centralised control

Halfway through the project a violent storm caused severe damage to large sections of the warehouse. This meant that the timeline had to be rearranged with configuration and commissioning in certain areas, the result of this was that certain equipment could only be installed later than originally planned.

Unilever required very strict compliance with certain internal requirements and all key design decisions had to be motivated and substantiated before being signed-off for installation. For instance, camera positions were decided on-site based on practical demonstrations of the fields of view and the desired result. Unilever remained closely involved throughout the process to ensure that implementation catered for any changing requirements.

Unilever put together a project team to oversee the project and involved members of the different disciplines as soon as certain issues impacted their scope of responsibility (eg, HR, IT finance, security, legal).

Design and specification was done by Martin Peterson of M. Peterson & Associates and Hilton McAvinchey of McAvinchey Consulting Engineers based on their combined experience in similar projects. The progress was measured against an overall construction plan for the entire facility. For example, Vesda sample piping needed to be installed taking into consideration the flooring and racking programme. All cabling needed to follow the installation of the wiring infrastructure, cable trays and baskets.

The primary benefit is that the client is now able to control the entire operation from a single control room – with all alarms being directed through a single-user interface, with a standard set of follow-up procedures and with consistency in predetermined operating procedures. The technology was selected based upon criteria of reliability, local support and proven track record. The objective was long-term delivery of tangible risk-management benefits as a whole.

The operators have a floor plan of the entire facility that is populated with graphic images of all devices including intruder detectors, smoke detectors, cameras and access control devices. Icons change colour in the event of an alarm, and require that follow-up action is recorded for subsequent audit trails. The operator is also able to use one technology, for example surveillance to follow up on an alarm event from other technology, such as an early warning smoke alarm on the Vesda fire system. In addition, certain alarms can be sent through to the building management system (BMS) to direct certain consequences – eg, shut down of any mechanical equipment that may cause the situation to further deteriorate.

For more information contact Julian Thorrold, IDtek Solutions, +27 (0)11 706 0101,

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