Warehouse solution to address theft and fire concerns
Editor / Provider: Michelle Chien, a&s International | Updated: 11/29/2013 | Article type: Commercial Markets
Warehouses and vaults are the central location where all cargoes and goods are inventoried and stored until they are shipped to their rightful destinations. Nowadays, having high-resolution cameras, proper intruder alarms and access control, and effective fire detection sensors placed in strategic locations are the prerequisites of securing a warehouse, as theft and fire are the most serious issues that need to be addressed in a warehouse environment.
The logistics industry faces a significant amount of security threats owing to the open and exposed locations where the warehouses are commonly situated, not to mention the bustling activities of loading, unloading, packing, unpacking, and shipping and handling procedures. Most logistic facilities consist of warehouses, maintenance areas, docks, garages, offices, and parking lots, all of which combined pose an enormous challenge to security providers.
Security in the warehouse should be based on the concept of demarcation, deterrence, detection, delay response, and recovery; a series of clearly discernible zones and control of access to restricted areas; and the capability to increase security during emergencies and increased threat situations.
With the amount of activities that take place within a warehouse on a daily basis, anyone who has access to the warehouse will have access to the high-cost items in need of protection — this includes contractors, drivers, service providers, and staff.
Layout and Access
Proper perimeter security should be implemented for warehouses. Unfortunately, many warehouses often lack proper perimeter protection. Warehouse owners can consider including tall fences with barbed wires, detectors and sensors that will trigger an alarm when intruders enter after normal operating hours. There are problems with different types of perimeter security that should be noted, and warehouse owners must carefully assess their environments to determine the most suitable form of perimeter protection.
General Warehouse vs. Valuable Goods Warehouse
Depending on the type of warehouse and how the warehouse is categorized and segregated into different zones, extra security measures can be taken as necessary. For large warehouses, certain areas will be sectioned off specifically for valuable goods, where extra layers of security will be implemented. Multifactor authentication, such as card and pin or card and biometrics, are the most common ways of providing additional security though other combinations of identification can be applied. Manned guards are often positioned in front of these entrances to ensure no suspicious or unauthorized personnel will try to access the area, but also to verify if the valuables entering or leaving the area are in accordance with what is listed.
Having video surveillance is essential to warehouse security. It monitor and record instances of theft, burglary, accidents, and staff behavior and activity in and around the premise of the warehouse, it can also act as video evidence or investigation tool when things go awry.
High-definition cameras with crystal-clear resolution are often recommended in such settings. Video surveillance should be especially installed at all handling areas. Having quality images will allow operators to clearly identify the features of the thief, but also to zoom in and distinguish a serial number or a barcode to locate cargo or goods, which will be especially useful for tracking those that are missing.
More than Resolution
A couple of considerations must be factored in when selecting proper warehouse surveillance cameras. These cameras must be able to see clearly whether in daytime or nighttime, but also changing light conditions, especially by all entrances and dock areas, or areas with windows where light can shine through. A combination of different types of cameras are used in warehouses to cover different needs, but fixed cameras and PTZ speed domes are definitely popular selections.
As warehouses typically have high ceilings, around three meters or more, surveillance cameras must also have proper focal lengths for best results. The exact focal length required can be calculated by using lens calculators considering the varying light conditions in the warehouse. Numbers of camera varies depending on user preference and warehouse size.
Integration of Video, RFID and Access Control
Video surveillance is increasingly being used as a business management tool, seen most commonly in retail settings, also translating into warehouse logistics as well.
With a few simple integrations, barcodes and/or RFID tags (depending on warehouse preferences) can be paired with video surveillance to monitor specific cargo activity. This solution has been around for years, but as warehouse operators begin to realize its convenience, its popularity has also increased. The camera is able to zoom in on a barcode or RFID tag and verify if it is the right product being delivered to the right destination or stored into the right section, speeding up the process and streamlining the operations. Access control can also be integrated with video surveillance, showing real-time feeds and warnings if an unauthorized access had been committed or suspicious behavior around the warehouse had been spotted.
Arson is commonly associated with warehouse theft, which not only destroys inventory but also causes exorbitant loss and damage to the warehouse. Generally, warehouse fires are attributed to faulty electrical equipment such as motors, refrigeration units, forklift operations, switchgear, and maintenance work.
Flammable material should also be kept away from the fence or edge of a property to prevent criminals from starting a fire from the outside also trash bins and other large containers which can also be used by thieves to conceal stolen inventory for later pick up.
Fire solutions need to have reliable and very early detection capabilities that are cost effective to install in large warehouses. Many warehouse operators believe it is sufficient to install sprinklers and conventional smoke detectors in their warehouses, as long as they are in compliance with OSHA standards; however conventional smoke detectors only react when smoke reaches the system. Since, warehouses often have high ceilings, by the time the smoke travels to these detectors it might already be too late.
Video fire detection is one of the more effective ways of spotting a warehouse fire, employing the use of analytics from either the front or back end. With the analytics, an alert will be sent out if signs of a fire, such as distinct smoke patterns or what looks to be a flame, is spotted from the surveillance footage. This is a much more effective way of fire detection than conventional detectors as the fire will be spotted before the smoke detector will even sense the burning smoke in a warehouse setting.
Another useful technology is the air sampling smoke detection device. These devices have a wide sensitivity range and multi-level warnings, so low levels of smoke can be detected before the fire escalates. The system has a network of pipes with small sampling holes, along with capillary sampling tubes, which report back to a control panel that samples the incoming air for hydrocarbons, which are byproduct of fire. The system operates by continually drawing air into the pipe network via a high-efficiency aspirator.