Tim Trieschmann, security manager for Exel Corp., uses advanced technologies to lower operating expenses while still heightening security.

Two thefts a year and the company could potentially be putting a year’s worth of profit at risk,” says Tim Trieschmann, site security manager, Exel Corporation, Houston, Tex. Evidence enough for any company to obtain the best security technology. And that is what is being done at Exel’s Technology Facility. Exel has annual sales of $6.5 billion and employs more than 60,000 people in 1,300 locations in over 120 countries worldwide. The Houston warehouse facility is Exel’s largest such site and serves as one the global distribution centers for one of the biggest personal computer makers in the world — Hewlett Packard. “Since Exel is a client-based company, we are making sure that the high-value, high-risk products of our clients are protected. We are liable dollar for dollar for our losses. We use advanced technologies to lower our operating expense while still heightening security at the site,” says Trieschmann. In fact, security is so tight, even a representative of the Texas Department of Corrections came to examine the facility.

At Exel, the plan is rather simple. Create the most forward-thinking security plan. While talking to Trieschmann, one gets the sense that no stone has been left unturned. “I did a security assessment of what was needed based off of loss events. I could turn this place into a prison, but you want to have some reasoning behind security. Our security stance is based off of examining areas previous concern,” says Trieschmann. So what Exel has done, under the innovative eye of Trieschmann and installer One Source Building Technologies, Houston, Tex., was to create a layered security approach. Let’s take a tour of Exel, Trieschmann’s “Fort Knox,” and examine the technologies involved.

“Since we have layered security, first you have get through our fence, then you have to pass the outside police patrol, through the building access control and metal detectors, then to the inside the command center. So no matter how you try to hold up, tie up or subdue one of our officers, I’ve got a command center that is watching everything,” says Trieschmann.

The Master Plan

In the same circles as CPTED (crime prevention through environmental design), which is the proper design and effective use of a built environment that can lead to the reduction in the incidence of crime, the primary objective was to change the property layout to function more securely. Before the upgrade, the number one concern was proper documentation and visualization footage because the risk was trailer theft. Now it is virtually impossible to get out of the facility unless crashing through a steel wall sounds like a sound idea. And, GPS (global positioning satellite) tracking is used to monitor the whereabouts of every truck. Exel made it a priority to reconstruct areas conducive to crime prevention. With all of the changes, now the risk factor has focused primarily on employee theft and collusion.

“We totally redesigned the property to where employees park, where the entrances are and where the exits are,” Trieschmann says. As soon as you approach the approximately 15-acre property, everything is fenced in. Even the employee parking lot is fenced in. There is only one way in and one way out, solidified with an 8-foot fence with 3 feet of barbed wire. From there, turnstiles and tire spikes are implemented. On the outside perimeter, you will be greeted by one of the 30 HPD (Houston Police Department) off-duty, uniformed police officers employed by Exel. They patrol the parking lots and drop-lot zones 24 hours a day. Even the 146 exterior doors are alarmed to the access control system and monitored by surveillance cameras. “By having cameras everywhere and alarms on every single door, if a door is pushed open, we instantly get an alarm and cameras start rolling. We are forcing you through our guard shack where a security officer sits, where the camera coverage is extremely high. We make the drivers turn off their vehicles and exit their truck and sit at a desk to talk to the security supervisor,” says Trieschmann. Every security officer is equipped with Inovonics Wireless, Louisville, Colo., pagers/panic alarms.

Also at the guard shack, there is an IDCam, Houston, Tex., where the driver presents his driver’s license and it is dropped into the IDCam, which shoots through the NiceVision video surveillance system from NICE Systems, Rutherford, N.J. From there, the license is recorded digitally. “I can pull up a driver’s license of anyone from the last three months. I can call up camera by date and time, and view or print the license if desired,” says Trieschmann.

Exel is currently piloting a fingerprint identification system from Cross Match Technologies, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., to identify all truck drivers who pick up loads. The driver places his finger on the device and it takes a digital FBI-certified fingerprint. “It keeps a record of fingerprints in the event that a load is stolen. If the driver presented a fake driver’s license and left with a trailer, we would have a certified fingerprint.”

When designing a security plan for inside the warehouse, Exel used AutoCAD drawings of the facility. “We went up on lifts and we used viewfinders. Our ceiling is 43 feet in height so we took an AutoCAD drawing up to a certain scale. From there, we could get an idea of camera positioning in terms of line of sight, location and height. Next, we looked through viewfinders and mapped on the floor what was visible and to what detail. We applied that to our AutoCAD drawings and then built templates that showed camera views and imaging area. We laid out 98 cameras. For critical areas, we made sure we didn’t have any gray areas. We are able to cover all areas of concern,” says Trieschmann.

Inside, there is a command center that is behind two access controlled doors with the second door being deadbolted. Security personnel are locked inside the command center, which is fortified behind three inches of bulletproof glass that overlooks the entry point to Exel. Inside the command center, security has its own private network, separate from all computers within Exel. There are no external points to be hacked.

No cell phones, pagers or personal items are allowed in the warehouse. Employees go into the screening area and they walk through Metorex, Ewing, N.J., advanced metal detectors. Exel uses that firm’s arch metal detectors with location notifications of where any metal is located. All employees have to empty all personal items in the locker area, where they are assigned individual lockers.

Axis of Retrieval

The command center monitors the facility with the NiceVision Pro digital video recording solution from NICE Systems to provide recording and monitoring to safeguard its 1,000,000-square foot facility. The NiceVision system records nearly 100 cameras for on-site and remote monitoring, 24/7, 365 days a year.

“Our previous CCTV system was 48 cameras with time-lapse recording to VCRs,” says Trieschmann. “We had an incident in which I needed to track the suspect from one end of the building to the other to verify what had happened. I ended up paying security personnel overtime 24 hours a day, for 10 days to view all the video necessary to figure out what had happened — the video giving me only one frame every two to three seconds. We’ve got 81 loading bays here and last year we moved product at estimates worth in the billions from this facility. It was painfully clear that I needed a much more robust, efficient CCTV system.”

“The big selling point for Tim was the high-quality fame-rate video at a reasonable bit-rate storage requirement. He needed to have high-frame rates so he didn’t miss any activity. He’s running the Pro System at 15 frames per second at a higher bit rate than normal — 512k. Normally, the bit rate default for NICE is 256k. He doubled that to get even better video. He does have PTZ running as well, with Sony’s advanced intelligent archive tapes (AIT),” says Karsten Anderson, regional sales manager, NICE Systems. “There is so much flexibility in the application. The challenge is how to use it in your environment.”

“The other advantage with the NICE system is that we have different monitoring stations. The command center is not the only place that can see the cameras, like my high-value parts area. We set up a remote viewing station there through the NICE system over our private security network and security officers from different posts in the building can monitor the cameras. We have multiple security posts for viewing cameras, while the command center views everything,” Trieschmann says.

“We use the NiceVision Pro System with two 48-channel recorders and two 360-tape capacity libraries. The tapes are hooked into the NiceVision recorders for long-term archiving. It saves you an incredible amount of time when it comes to looking at video. We are recording in 15 frames per second (fps) on every channel. It is like watching a movie rather than viewing what we used to have — 1 frame every 3 seconds.”

Inside the Video App

By offering the highest frame rate possible, users are able to extract the most information from their digital video images. NiceVision Pro offers simultaneous recording of every camera at 30 frames per second (NTSC)/25 frames per second( PAL). “The Pro can offer a higher frame rate on each individual camera. There is no multiplexing or switching between inputs. We have a 30-frame processor per-camera input,” says Aaron Chesler, director of sales, NiceVision Security Group, The Americas.

Enhanced Network Efficiency —Efficient bandwidth utilization enables the use of existing network infrastructure and effective use of flexible storage options.

Scalability — Open architecture enables seamless integration and growth with existing security systems for complete detection and identification of security threats.

Effective Resource Allocation — Real-time video content analysis, with up to 96 camera inputs per unit, the Pro maximizes resources and provides powerful search and notification tools based on video content analysis. “With our system and the content analysis, Exel used our feature called MotionTrak and tracked an area in question where something was moved or taken. MotionTrak software allows for the ability to draw a box around that area and search through the video or time frame. As soon as there was movement in that area, the content analysis flagged the video and called it up within the system as a convenient thumbnail. If there were multiple events within that area, they would be called up as individual thumbnails. The administrator can walk away and all the thumbnails on the system are called up. He/she can click on them and it will go right to where there was movement in the video for that specified zone. It saves the operator many hours of searching video. It will save them money in the long run. With our system, security can act immediately to a particular event,” says Chesler.

“Our biggest losses result from mis-loading trucks or some kind of insider theft. On one occasion, I learned a $10,000 server was missing from the truck it was supposed to be on. I pulled up the camera that showed the server's last position at the loading area, and in the time it took me to get a cup of coffee, I tracked down exactly what had happened and where the server had gone. I was then able to burn the video clips onto a CD so our customer could track the mis-shipped item and get it back. I even monitored action at this site from home.”

Taking the Guard Tour

“We needed a guard tour system that monitored people in real time rather than having to look through activity logs every day based off guard patrols. GPIS (Guard Patrol Information System), St. Petersburg, Fla., allows us to do that. It sifts through logs based on exceptions that are set and will call my phone and email me if there is something that needs attention, rather than spending time watching on a daily basis,” says Trieschmann.

According to Joel Dalenberg, vice president of sales and marketing, GPIS Corp., the technology in the guard tour industry has been stagnant for the last 10-12 years. “It is basically data acquisition of old data. If a security guard walks out into a plant, he has a probe or a data-collection unit where it is reading bar codes, ibuttons or mag stripes. He hits one of these buttons in a plant and logs it at that date and time that he was there. He continues with all of his checkpoints and most of the time the information is downloaded the next day. Nobody knows during the tour what the officer did or what he was supposed to do. Some security personnel don't even download information for a week,” says Dalenberg.

Trieschmann raves of the GPIS’ i-Complete system, which streamlines the flow of guard patrol information by creating an end to end information management and notification system. Utilizing proven technologies, i-Complete provides real time information for incident tracking/notification, tour/ cold-start verification and time/attendance. Real-time response helps to guarantee the full security of areas of responsibilities reducing risk and liability concerns. The i-Complete information management system performs two major activities. The first is information gathering. This is accomplished using the i-Route and i-TIRS modules to collect and process field transaction and incident information i-Route is a traditional guard tour system with the addition of real-time monitoring and notification of incidents and exceptions.

The second major activity performed by i-Complete is to process and report on route and incident information collected from the field. i-Complete processes this information by comparing route information to location and rule based tables notifying management, on a real-time basis, of exceptions in guard performance. This portion of the system schedules organizes and monitors security personnel. It notifies supervisors of any exceptions in route performance and field incidents requiring management or customer involvement. Notification is accomplished using paging, cellular and wired phones, and e-mail. The system is also a workflow tool that allows guards, dispatchers, supervisors, and management to report on incidents through conclusion. The system allows for information to be added under all levels within an organization in order to dispose of critical incidents in organized manner. Once disposed, incident reports can be generated to create management reports, customer summaries and marketing tools.

“Every hour when a guard does his tour, the information is downloaded and available instantly. The biggest difference is that if he did not do something that he was supposed to do, security supervisors are notified. We have set up a monitoring and notification system,” says Dalenberg.

The system is a smart acquisition unit. The probe is equipped with a computer inside that knows what the tour the officer is supposed to do. It knows the checkpoints and notation. When the officer comes back and downloads, it synchronizes with the information that it was supposed to do and if it is not done, it automatically notifies.

“What sets that system apart from other guard tour systems is that it performs auto notification based on set parameters,” Dalenberg explains.

Inside Access

Exel’s access control system is state of the art. It uses InfoGraphic Systems’, Garden Grove, Calif., DIAMOND II with the graphical user interface — interactive maps that control 146 doors and are linked to the panic buttons from Inovonics Wireless Corp. With Inovonics’ pagers/panic buttons, the press of a button can send a signal anywhere on the premises and/or to external support. And because Inovonics Wireless systems are simple to operate, an employee can signal for help, even in the most panicked situations.

The DIAMOND II series software is a server/client application designed entirely by InfoGraphics to support multi-user, pre-emptive multi-tasking operations.

Operators have full-system control through the use of dynamic alarm, reader, relay and security area icons displayed in the graphics map. The maps have full drill-down capabilities to the device level. Devices and alarms may be acknowledged, masked and secured from mouse clicks on the appropriate icons.

A fully-expanded DIAMOND II system is capable of supporting over 2,000 readers, 40,000 alarm points and 40,000 output relay points, while handling multiple concurrent tasks without impeding the system performance. This is a very important advantage when dealing with high levels of real-time transaction activity and concurrent overhead demands such as report generation, database downloads and other system administration activity.

Computers may be operated as full-screen workstations. The system allows user interaction, while simultaneously monitoring and controlling real-time events, and providing a dynamic system status summary. The system allows continuous monitoring of alarms and system status at any or all operator workstations. Standard configurations of the DIAMOND II system will support up to 128 user-configurable workstations per server. Special system configurations will support up to 1,000 workstations.

Standard features that provide optimum system flexibility include: full interactive graphical maps, CCTV interface software, elevator control, high-integrity dial-up capability for field panels, multiple company site codes support and TCP/IP communication support for local area network (LAN) field panels.

The Eye in the Sky

Ninety percent of Exel’s cameras are PTZ Spectra day/night color cameras from Pelco, Clovis, Calif. All of the outside cameras are the Pelco Spectra domes that switch to black/white for night visibility.

Pelco now offers its Spectra III SE, which offers many features and technologies that expand the benefits of using integrated dome systems. New memory storage and data transfer technologies, window-blanking features. The newer Spectra III line features a high resolution, integrated optics package (IOP) low-light color camera, with full pan/tilt positioning mechanism and programmable dome drive features.

All Spectra III dome drives include a high-resolution low-light color CCD camera with a 128x zoom lens. Password protection prevents unauthorized users from changing the system setup and other sensitive dome drive settings. An on-screen system information window displays dome drive model, software version, baud rate, protocol and other diagnostic information.

Exel also implements day/night cameras from Sanyo, Chatsworth, Calif., at the guard shack entrance.

“The two most important factors in securing your facility is to use and trust systems that work and realize that your management team are the keys to success. If you can’t count on the people to which you delegate things, nothing will work,” Trieschmann says.