Using technology to enhance your warehouse security
Given the fact that one of the primary purposes of a warehouses is to store or manufacturer products, equipment, or other valuable assets, it follows that security and fire protection will be a top priority for anyone with responsibility for a site of this kind.
Threats such as break-ins by professional criminals, opportunistic theft by the general public or members of staff, fire damage and other warehouse health and safety regulation issues, and vandalism must all be addressed as effectively as possible. Additionally, security technology such CCTV can also be used in an operational capacity to aid management and improve efficiency.
Designing and implementing a robust warehouse solutions and fire safety strategy which takes full advantage of all that the latest technology has to offer is a complex process which requires in depth analysis of the specific issues associated with the site in question. Implementing the most appropriate strategy for your own warehouse solutions will inevitably utilize a range of solutions, each with its own set of capabilities and features. The solutions at your disposal include security cameras or CCTV, security lighting, integrated security systems and fire safety systems, site access systems incorporating gates and barriers, and intruder and fire alarms.
In this guide, we outline all the security and fire safety options mentioned above, and explain how they might be best employed to provide optimum fire safety and security for your warehouse. To further expand on this, we also offer any interested party a detailed warehouse fire & security consultation ABSOLUTELY FREE. This will outline the most effective and efficient package to deliver a flexible and cost-effective fire and/or security solution which has been tailored to meet the unique challenges posed by your warehouse.
Firmly established as a cornerstone of security practice, CCTV is available in 3 main categories:
Analogue CCTV – Lowest Cost but poorest quality and expandability
HD over Coax
IP CCTV – Highest Cost, Highest Quality and Future Proof
These offer a range of different capabilities, including network connectivity, high definition image capture, and advanced system integration and intelligence.
When deciding which CCTV is most suitable for their premises, warehouse owners and managers should take into account the nature of the warehouse itself, the setting of the warehouse, the type of asset which requires protection, and the way in which personnel operate on site.
For example, CCTV systems installed at warehouses located in areas with a high footfall should have a strong focus on monitoring the perimeter in order to mitigate the increased threat from intruders. Warehouses which also perform a distribution function require strengthened CCTV coverage in areas via which goods are received or despatched.
Other uses for CCTV in a warehouse solutions setting include:
- Production line monitoring
- Verification of order dispatch including time and date
- Staff monitoring
- Heavy machinery monitoring, e.g. forklifts
- Prevention and deterrence of theft by staff or intruders
- Remote warehouse management for large facilities and multiple sites to increase efficiency and reduce staff costs
- UMD (Unusual Motion Activity) detection to highlight someone or something in and area they shouldn’t be for example.
- Vehicle monitoring and recording using ANPR (Automatic Numberplate Recognition) technology.
CCTV systems are getting cleverer and cleverer and now even utilise Articificial intelligence to manage and monitor the footage for you, only alerting you to items you need to be aware of.
An optimised CCTV system can have benefits which extent beyond improving warehouse security. These include more effective management and monitoring of on-site warehouse health and safety regulations, and improvements in operational efficiency by identifying and addressing any issues revealed by close analysis of recorded footage or utilising the video analytics built into the camera.
CCTV systems equipped with ANPR technology offer even more functionality, and can be used in conjunction with site access equipment and facilities in order to restrict and grant access to certain vehicles based on predetermined criteria, or to quickly locate vehicles by searching for their number plate.
Increasingly, facial recognition technology is being introduced into CCTV technology in order to enable warehouse security technology to respond to the presence and activity of specific individuals. This is just one example of the increased functionality warehouse managers and owners can benefit from by updating or replacing their existing CCTV system.
Remember that software matters! When choosing a CCTV system, make sure you get a demonstration on how the software works because you really do get what you pay for in this industry.
The capability of modern CCTV technology to record vast amounts of high definition video has enabled security professionals and the business community to develop ever more sophisticated ways in which to utilise this data. This practice, known as 'Video Analytics', has the potential to optimise security to a higher degree than has ever been possible. In fact, Video Analytics can also be applied to almost any aspect of business.
For example, business managers can use Video Analytics to assess how personnel respond to certain working situations or monitor customer behaviour or demographics in a retail setting. Video Analytics can also be used to identify and address security weaknesses and proactively alert security staff or keyholders of an incident.
Our CCTV systems can even allow you to search by hair colour, clothing colour and age:
At Contact Fire & Security, we work with three of the major innovators in Video Analytics - Avigilion, AXIS, and HIK Vision - in order to give our customers access to the latest developments in the field. Our security expertise combined with the cutting-edge technology they produce ensures that our customers benefit from the most effective Video Analytics systems available today.
Sometimes also referred to as 'shrinkage', theft of goods or equipment by employees is a significant security issue for most if not all businesses. In fact, in 2017 the PwC Global Economics Survey revealed that between 2015 and 2016 the proportion of businesses reporting loss of assets dues to theft by employees increased from 44% to 55%. In the digital age, dishonest employees are presented with yet more opportunities to steal from businesses, as goods can be unlawfully intercepted simply by altering the details on an address label.
In order to combat this, businesses are advised to implement a solid inventory management system and integrate security technology to provide optimal coverage at all times and throughout their warehouse facility. Sensible working practices such as limiting unsupervised access to stock and other valuables and putting extra checks in place at the point of staff recruitment also form a vital component of an overall strategy to prevent theft by employees.
Clever use of security technology can provide an even greater level of protection from shrinkage, in some cases eliminating the issue almost entirely. At Contact Fire & Security, we specialise in advising our customers on the most effective ways of deploying their security system in order to address this threat.
For example, our CCTV and Access Control technology can be used alongside stock and order management systems to collect legally admissible evidence identifying the individual responsible for a theft. Used alongside Video Analytics, this technology can also be deployed to identify the most viable suspects over an extended period.
An effective warehouse security and fire protection strategy will look beyond more prominent concerns to identify and address less obvious 'hidden dangers' which can endanger personnel, increase vulnerability to theft, and have a detrimental effect on the overall efficiency with which the warehouse operates.
Human error dictates that accidents will always be a possibility in any workplace. This fact is supported by the UK Health and Safety executive, which reports that over 700,000 accidents occurred in workplaces in 2017 alone. However, close examination of all risk factors can minimise this threat.
Many dangers will be unique to your own warehouse, or at least to the type of business activity which takes place there. Draw up a detailed plan which identifies all risks and puts in place a clear strategy for addressing them, and assess and revise all plans regularly.
Utilise access control systems to restrict staff to areas where they have been trained to enter or completed an induction. Limit their access if they have not submitted a risk assessment.
Electrical equipment and power sources can be particularly dangerous, so take care to account for all electronic equipment, arrange for all electronic devices to be PAT tested, and prevent anyone other than properly qualified personnel or contractors from accessing high voltage power boxes or generators by installing a lockable barrier. This can be integrated with a central management system for maximum staff safety.
Additionally, assess any heavy machinery in use at your warehouse. Heavy machinery includes forklifts, cherry pickers, and other larger pieces of equipment. Incidents involving contact with heavy machinery accounted for 18% of all deaths in the workplace between 2012 and 2017, so be certain that anyone operating heavy machinery has undergone the correct training. Put clear safety practices in place, and reassess and revise these practices on a regular basis. By utilising CCTV as part of an integrated system, warehouse managers can ascertain whether or not staff members are following these measures correctly, and can take appropriate action if necessary.
Other threats within the warehouse with the potential to go unnoticed include shelving and racking, floor surfaces, and staircases and ladders. In order to fully assess all risks, it is essential to embrace an open minded approach, avoid making assumptions that simple common sense will be enough to mitigate smaller risks, and seek professional advise if at all in doubt.
Fire Risk Assessments
According to UK law, buildings with five or more regular occupants must be subject to a strict programme of Fire Risk Assessments. This includes all business premises, buildings used by charities, government, or other organisations, any other buildings accessible to the public, and the 'common areas' of residential buildings, e.g. blocks of flats.
In essence, a Fire Risk Assessment should identify all factors present in a building which could increase the likelihood of a fire taking place, and put measures in place to address them. Whoever is responsible for conducting or arranging a Fire Risk Assessment for a building is also legally obliged to ensure that regular reassessments are carried out.
There is no strict definition of the term 'regular' in this context, however the general consensus is that Fire Risk Assessments should be conducted at least annually. Similarly, while the law does not specify that Fire Risk Assessments should be documented in writing, in practice this is highly advisable.
Failure to implement an adequate programme of Fire Risk Assessments can result in prosecution, which in extreme cases can lead to a custodial sentence. Having a proper fire safety strategy in place will enhance the well-being off your employees, and the fire risk it can prevent has the potential to be catastrophic, so the benefits of Fire Risk Assessments in relation to the comparatively minimal costs could not be more clear.
In addition to being responsible for conducting and regularly reviewing a Fire Risk Assessment, as an employer, owner, landlord, occupier, or person with any other form of responsibility for a warehouse or other premises as detailed above, the law requires that you:
- Inform staff about any risks identified
- Implement and maintain effective fire safety measures
- Conduct emergency planning
- Provide all necessary information and staff training relating to fire safety.
The UK government offers advice and guidance relating to fire safety and Fire Risk Assessments which can be found here, and the team of professional fire risk assessors at Contact Fire & Security are on hand to provide advice and carry out assessments on your behalf. Simply contact us and we will arrange for a member of our team to visit you at your warehouse. By applying their substantial experience and expertise to guide you through the three simple steps of Risk Identification, Risk Assessment, and Risk Mitigation, they can help you to draw up a solid fire risk management strategy.
All of the security and fire protection strategies outlined above have a contribution to make towards establishing optimum warehouse security, safety, and efficiency. However, the most effective way in which to achieve this objective is to combine all of these different elements as part of a complete integrated security and fire safety solution.
Using connectivity to enable security systems to operate across all security and fire protection equipment including lights, CCTV, gates and barriers, and alarms via a central control system, we can create a tailored integrated solution which both meets the unique requirements of your warehouse, and responds to new challenges as they emerge.
This will provide your warehouse with protection from theft by intruders and staff members, as well as from other threats such as vandalism and industrial accidents. It can also increase efficiency, and can save on financial costs including insurance premiums and losses due to theft.
At Contact Fire & Security, we pride ourselves on providing a 360° security strategy which utilises most, if not all of the strategies mentioned above in order to ensure optimal 24-hour warehouse security. We recommend a consultation as your next step towards achieving this for your own warehouse solutions, so why not contact us today to arrange a free visit from one of our expert security consultants.
You can also follow the link below to download your own copy of this guide, which also includes a warehouse health and safety checklist, to help you assess the status of your current security warehouse solutions.