Electronic video surveillance is used by industry not only for security purposes, but also operations. Monitoring of manufacturing lines and inventory control systems are two of the many possible applications.
CCTV is be coming a vital component of industry operations," said Peter McKee, International Marketing Director for Mobotix AG. Modern network camera technology includes a wide range of functions to allow effective plant and building security surveillance.
"In the past few years, we have learned a lot about application of electronic surveillance systems," said Celso Calazans, owner of Brazil's Emforvigil S.A. "The paradigm that says security cameras can be used only to fight theft has been broken. They are much more than that!"
"Modern society, companies and governments have been won over by technological resources such as camera systems," observed Calazans, "viewing them as an unbeatable solution. The search for simple, efficient and economical solutions will take us down the road of cameras functioning as overseers, observing and orientating agents in production and other sectors, helping organizations make better decisions."
Use of electronic surveillance for non-security purposes, said Calazans, has been growing at between 2 percent and 5 percent per year. "Such systems are being used mainly for economic and research reasons. Surveillance focuses on equipment as opposed to actual persons."
Germany, the U.K. and U.S, said McKee, are the major markets. The biggest emerging markets are China and Russia, albeit on a smaller scale. The industrial vertical, continued McKee, illustrates the spread of the IP revolution very well.
Factors affecting growth include new government regulations and the high cost of labor. Intelligent camera systems, for example, take over repetitive tasks, increasing productivity. "Companies cannot afford costly down time. Time is money!" emphasized McKee.
Increasingly companies trade or do business only with factories that adhere to strict security, safety and employment conditions. This is driven by government bodies and public awareness. Product requirements differ considerably but international trends are emerging due to trade and business practice guidelines that are being accepted globally.
Many production facilities that originally purchased surveillance equipment for security purposes have come to realize that these devices can be effectively used for operational and monitoring ends. Network systems, for example, are versatile. Large numbers of cameras require lots of processing power. When the camera, itself, provides the required processing power, central processing costs are lowered; this makes it financially viable for industrial companies to invest.
Logistics is a heavy user of intelligent systems because warehouse workers need to know exactly where goods are. Large facilities are mounting cameras on pulleys that run along tracks to cover even more areas of the warehouse and grounds. Calazans also pointed to sport facilities. "Cameras are the final check in case of doubt; they are used extensively at major sporting events. Cameras used by human resources prevent discrimination."
The medical industry is in on the game as well. Cameras broadcast real-time surgical procedures and, during webinarsweb seminarssurgeons can pass on information about new technologies to online participants. Recordings made in surgical centers, for example, can be analyzed by medical teams and surveillance equipment can be used to monitor the safety of newborn infants.
Cameras Playing a Central Role
Cameras provide technical support and improve manufacturing processes. Cameras oversee high-voltage electric systems; they also contribute to the upkeep of machinery and improve standardization of production, helping prevent accidents in the process.
"Problems such as distractions and lack of skill at carrying out critical tasks have caused tremendous damage," Calazans explained. "Problematic machines and production interruption generate loss and delivery delays. By using cameras, there is a lower level of risk and it prevents wastage. Production time can be better measured and down time avoided."
The most common products are integrated and micro cameras, as well as alarms and access control. "The two camera systems are used for quality control and production flow. The equipment acts as the eyes of the engineer or mechanic," said Calazans.
Intelligent surveillance and monitoring are increasingly important, added McKee. Additionally, megapixel cameras offer higher resolution with greater detail so fewer cameras are needed; this lowers costs. The most advanced megapixel recording systems provide 12 times more detail than conventional systems. This aids in quality control as more detail can be seen. Analytical software configures parameters to ensure that finished goods meet quality standards. Being able to record high-resolution, megapixel images is also significant; most systems can record only at low resolution because of computing and processing restrictions.
As conveyor belts are often controlled by PCs, McKee explained, an intelligent surveillance system with a serial interface in the camera can read output and messages, sending this with high-resolution images to network users.
Intelligent systems linked to manufacturing devices can also alert workers when conveyor belts are running too slowly or fast. Analytical software in these cameras helps them read preconfigured numbers of items that are to pass per minute, while touch screens linked to cameras can be configured to control operation of conveyor belts and/or other machinery.
Having cameras control the process allows machinery to work at a higher level due to the architecture of a decentralized system. Previously, centralized PC-based systems created network traffic, causing equipment to work at limited capacity. New surveillance systems make for more effective use of resources by removing this problem and sending information to the central system only when abnormal situations arise.
Finally, systems of access control, alarm, surveillance, maintenance and even biometricsa growing sector in this verticalare being converged into operational systems as well as security purposes.