22 June 2007

Despite the growing number and 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.

That’s the word from Jack Edery, CEO of Elvey Security Technologies, who says the recent findings of Aon Global Risk Consulting’s first global risk management survey could well be extrapolated to the South African environment.

According to Aon managing director Ruth Joplin, the top 10 risk concerns cited by survey respondents included damage to reputation, business interruption, financial risk and physical damage. The survey also reports that America was the only region to cite technology failure and loss of data as major risk concerns. Edery says he finds this alarming since these concerns should be priorities for all enterprises owing to the ever-present and growing security threat to physical and intellectual property in conjunction with rising levels of terrorism. What also concerns him is that, according to the survey, a substantial proportion of senior management admitted to relying heavily on intuition and experience to identify major risks.

Positive growth needs to be protected

Quoting Statistics South Africa, Edery says the estimated total value of sales of manufactured products at current prices for the first quarter of 2007 increased by 6,1% (+R15 729 million), after seasonal adjustment, compared with the fourth quarter of 2006. This positive growth highlights both the future potential of the manufacturing and industrial sectors and concurrently the need to manage risk as effectively as possible if they are to continue to show good growth, he emphasises. “Rising numbers of fraudulent and criminal incidents are wreaking havoc on profits and bottom lines. One of the major risks facing these sectors today is criminal conduct by employees, whether through white collar fraud, shrinkage or fraudulent time keeping. And this, coupled with the advent of technology and specifically the Internet, means that the opportunities for subterfuge and theft abound, whether in the office, factory or warehouse.”

The solution to managing risk effectively today is through the use of integrated systems, says Edery whose company works with large parastatals such as Rand Water and Eskom as well as medium and small concerns. While he admits that choosing the right video security system is a daunting task to many, he says the development of complete solutions that provide monitoring and surveillance, digital video capture, real-time viewing, remote monitoring and management, recording, and archival/retrieval, have simplified the process.

Physical perimeter detection

Traditionally, the first point of security on any property has been physical fencing or walling. However, says Elvey sales manager Rudi Kuhn, with the evolution of technology, simple barrier protection has expanded into hi-tech perimeter security systems. “We’re talking about intelligent perimeter protection that has detection, delay and deterrent capabilities,” he says. Typically, these are multi-faceted systems with outward barriers that include steel barbs or coiled wire. Elvey’s top products have signal control units with a protection range of up to 400 metres that can be extended by connecting additional units together. Other capabilities of these products include point impact discrimination (which recognizes and suppresses distributed disturbances due to wind, rain and vibrations) and sensitivity leveling (to automatically compensate for fence variations so as to be able to equalize the entire perimeter). Further, free-format zoning allows zones to be set in software independent of cable length or equipment location.

According to Kuhn, one of the most appealing aspects of today’s technology is its software-based flexibility which makes system design and upgrades both cost-effective and viable. Operators are able to receive intrusion perimeter alarms into a single display with precise information relating to suggested guard response and intrusion detection. Further, top-of-the-range systems are able to transmit alarm signals and data on one cable, from the processors and auxiliary sensors situated along the external barrier. “This has serious cost benefits since the need for extra wiring is eliminated and upgrades are inexpensively done when existing zones need to be matched to new technology,” he explains.

Despite its sophistication, perimeter security technology has a high degree of user-friendliness. Controls are either in the form of a mouse, custom keypad or touch screen and breach locations are pinpointed via colour graphics on highly detailed site maps, he says. The systems offer individual operator log-on, pre-set levels of authorization for reports, and access and secure zone status. Important data such as alarm times and dates as well as actions by the operator are all automatically logged and saved for viewing in printed report and log files.

This top drawer technology also offers another enormous benefit to users: its low nuisance alarm rate. According to Kuhn, users can now enjoy minimal nuisance alarms owing to the existence of a feature known as sensitivity leveling. “Contrary to the relatively high number of false alarms generated by many other outdoor security products, these fencing systems are able to deal with environmental conditions such as wind, rain or snow,” he says.

Cutting-edge systems also offer mapping software, which Kuhn says is so advanced that it can provide the location of an alarm to within 10 feet. Optimized for perimeter and central security control room applications, it can reside in either a local area network (LAN) or wide area network (WAN). Kuhn is particularly keen on those products that offer map monitoring with graphical user interfaces that manage all functionality related to intrusion detection alarms, events and devices.

Increasingly run on IP (Internet Protocol) architecture, these systems are simply integrated into existing networks. They can be tailored to suit single or multiple site requirements and are available in a variety of language options. Furthermore, says Kuhn, the advanced versions offer benefits such as alarm tagging, log-on authentication and multiple site maps as well as the flexibility of being able to handle changes in site configuration and operators.

Access control using cutting-edge CCTV and IP

High and increasing demand for security has been behind an evolution in closed circuit television (CCTV). Using advanced video compression technology, CCTV is now able to deliver high quality images from remote sites over any telephone or cellular line, says Francois Smuts, Elvey’s CCTV Product Manager. “It’s an easy- to-install, cost-effective and reliable remote video solution that offers video verification at a central station, video e-mail on events and even look-in capabilities. This technology is repeatedly proving its worth in terms of apprehending criminals, saving lives, improving revenue and reducing false alarms,” he continues. “It also reduces on-site guard requirements through automatically scheduled video guard tours that can be viewed by central station operators. As a result, the viewer can see via automatically emailed video clips who opens and closes the business, who was with them and if they carried anything away.”

Access control is another vital component of comprehensive risk management, says Smuts, adding that the latest technology allows for access control systems to be integrated with biometric interfaces in order to further enhance security levels.

Security aside, there is also the convenience aspect, which Smuts says should not be underestimated owing to its ability to import data into payroll systems.

In the event that more effective control and monitoring of staff is required, TCP/IP (Internet Protocol) communication is the way to go, according to Michael Brett, Elvey Corporate Account Manager. He says the use of TCP/IP technology enables the owner or security officer of an industrial facility to control and monitor all aspects of security remotely, via the Internet. “It’s also good news for companies that, despite having multiple sites, want to be able to do their monitoring via one central control room.”

One of the greatest benefits of TC/PIP technology, however, is its “always on” status, he emphasises. “The connection allows the control panel to communicate with the central station every 90 seconds to ensure that units are actually connected. This in itself is a huge benefit since organisations know that their systems are being regularly polled to ensure they are constantly operational – something that has not been possible in the past.” He also points out the significant savings aspect of this technology which can be integrated into existing as well as new infrastructures.

Gideon Wheeler, Elvey CCTV Technical Manager, comments further: “Closed circuit television has been around for many years but its rapid and continued advancement now singles it out as the most effective method of monitoring employees’ misconduct. In conjunction with IP, management can now observe activity in the manufacturing plant at any time of the day or night and from any point in the world.”

“The need to feel secure touches all aspects of our lives,” Wheeler continues. “Education, transportation, healthcare, government, enterprise and retail have all been forced to revaluate previous assumptions about security and invest in new technologies. Video has become the foundation for this effort, from recording and aiding in the apprehension of criminals to preventing crime altogether when used as a deterrent.”

The use of IP provides an added feeling of security, he says, and for a number of reasons. “Placing a network video camera on your premises allows you to check on operations via the use of video servers, which link the CCTV and IP markets. These cameras can also be used as security cameras in that they can be monitored and controlled from anywhere at any time through dedicated application software or standard web browsers. All cameras connect to the network via simple, cost-effective Ethernet, utilizing an existing LAN (local area network) infrastructure. Adding additional cameras is easy and there’s no need for cabling. Servers are fully open to future upgrades with faster processors, larger disk drives and other enhancements,” he concludes.

Elvey Marketing