Polski Koncern Naftowy ORLEN, known as PKN ORLEN, is one of Europe's largest refiners of crude oil. Employing more than 20,000 people, PKN ORLEN operates seven refineries throughout central Europe processing mainly URAL blend crude oil, shipped from Russia via the Friendship pipeline.
PKN ORLEN's main refining and petrochemical complex is in Plock, Poland, which is ranked as the most advanced facilities in Europe and for some reasons, security is taken seriously here. Preventing unauthorized access is a major concern, with not only the access gates, but also the entire perimeter of the plant being secured.
"It is not an easy task to secure the petrochemical plant here in Plock and prevent unauthorized access," explained Jacek Kotulski, PKN ORLEN's Security Specialist and Coordinator. "It comprises nearly 70 production units which operate over an area of more than 800 hectares."
"Just like any perimeter fields where security is tight, we need to have a lot of different security measures and installations in place to make sure that no one enters the facility without authorization. CCTV cameras, video analytics and fences are all installed, and work together around the perimeter to keep intruders out."
"The refinery not only needs to be protected during the day against unseen intrusion, during dark hours when the facility is vulnerable to intrusion, the place is also needing secured," continued Mr. Kotulski.
Knowing that thermal imaging technology would be a valuable option for the situation, Mr. Kotulski contacted Agtes, FLIR Systems distributor in Poland for a demonstration. This made it possible that a number of FLIR thermal imaging cameras have been applied and installed in the refinery plant.
These thermal imagers provide crisp, clear thermal imagery in sheer darkness, light fog or smoke. One of the reasons PKN ORLEN chose the cameras was its excellent range performance. It can detect a man-sized target at a distance of up to 1.6 kilometres away. Unlike other darkness-orientation systems that require low amounts of light to generate an image, the cameras can detect targets in total darkness, and also for all types of weather conditions.
FLIR thermal imaging cameras are now installed along the perimeter and at certain highly restricted areas. They are fixed mounted, always overlooking the same area. A dome camera is installed close to the thermal cameras and the alarm can be triggered with both cameras in place.
Under some gloomy weather conditions, the cameras could also work well with the environment. "At Plock, we get some foggy days and the thermal image cameras still allow us to see and detect quite a bit more than with a normal camera. Even in some cases which are enshrouded with vapour and smoke, the cameras still function as usual," said Mr. Kotulski.
"The other reason for choosing fixed mounted thermal imaging cameras instead of pan/tilt cameras is that they work perfectly with our existing video analytics, considerably reducing false alarm rates. The upside for the thermal imaging cameras is that they always produce a high contrast image, not only during the night but also in poor light conditions where cameras give little contrast. This makes thermal imaging perfect to work together with video analytics."
"The video analytics used at ORLEN is object video. The produced images are configured over fibre optics to a fibre optic-BNC converter and entered into an object video processor. They are then transmitted to the Ethernet so that users can look at them whenever and wherever they want. Object video utilizes algorithms to detect objects, and immediately generates useful output such as real-time alerts or triggers for other applications."
"The algorithms 'trip wires'. If someone or something crosses a certain line, which users can define in object video, an alarm is triggered. Another algorithm is Areas of Interest (AOI). With this technology, users can define a field where no access is allowed. However, if someone enters the AOI, an alarm will alert.
"The cameras have proven to be ideal for the refinery security. They help us to protect the perimeter not only during the night, but during daytime, in all weather conditions, as well," concluded Mr. Kotulski.