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Access control challenges and systems integration in high-tech manufacturing

Access control challenges and systems integration in high-tech manufacturing
One of the biggest access control challenges facing the high-tech manufacturing industry is its integration with other facility systems.
High-tech manufacturing facilities face many challenges when it comes to access control; integration with other systems is of particular challenge. However, the design, implementation and maintenance of these systems also pose challenges for both facility managers and access control providers.

Integrating the physical and logical

Ken Poole Johnson Controls
Ken Poole, Senior Director,
Commercial Sales, Johnson Controls
One of the biggest challenges for high-tech manufacturing facilities is ensuring that the access control system is properly integrated with logical systems. However, there is a widespread push toward melding these systems together, especially in more high-tech industries.

Integration of these systems ensures security data is shared with HR systems and in return is updated immediately with any changes (e.g., changes in training requirements or staff access privileges, etc.), according to John Davies, MD of TDSi.

Davies added that physical access control systems need to be a sub-system of the logical security and IT. Doing so ensures they are an integral part of the overall facility.

“This includes a direct connection to the main company database, for example, Microsoft Active Directory, so it can populate and act upon data across all the relevant parts of the business and give the management a full overview of any situation,” Davies said.

Andrew Fulton, Head of Product Management for Access Control at Vanderbilt, believes that the ability to use a single source — whether it’s a mobile credential or key card/fob — to access not only the facility, but also computer vestibules, is crucial to better manage access levels.

“Systems that are able to manage both physical and logical security are generally in high demand because of the ability to control access to all entrances/workstations from a single system,” Fulton said.

Building off of the existing proximity technology and smart card readers is also allowing high-tech manufacturing facilities to add biometrics for key areas as a supplement to the existing systems, which has the added benefit of turning it into a 2-factor authentication system without extra cost, according to Ken Poole, Senior Director of Commercial Sales at Johnson Controls.

Design and deployment challenges

In large facilities, like high-tech manufacturing, managing the users and the implementation and upkeep of the user database, as well as the maintenance of the equipment, is a challenge. However, Poole explained that ensuring that systems are properly serviced and operational keeps the entire security strategy in place.

“Maintenance is easy to defer, but with a smart maintenance approach, manufacturing facilities can avoid getting stuck in a reactive cycle when something goes truly wrong,” Poole said.

Poole also noted the desire of high-tech manufacturers to use the “very latest thing,” which can make settling on a product or design a challenge.

“We’ll present solutions that fulfill the directive we’re given, then something new will come out. We have to be prepared as an integrator to put those things in effectively, and that takes time,” he added.

Although, from a consulting perspective, while it is important to keep staff trained and prepared for the latest product roll-outs, it is also important to keep clients from being too right on the bleeding edge. This runs especially true for high-tech manufacturing, where high risk of unreliability is unacceptable.

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