The future of Warehouse Security and Efficiency
As recent as a decade ago, warehouses may have been seen as a quite separate entity in the overall supply chain. They were merely for storage of merchandise until it was transported onto its final destination. Today businesses are progressively discovering the advantages of moving towards integrating the modern day warehouse into the greater supply chain. They see the benefits in reaping the enhanced inventory management such as greater loss prevention and theft protection.
In this article, Mo our sales and marketing manager discusses how security solutions can be integrated more efficiently throughout the supply chain in order to keep businesses competitive and increase operational efficiency.
Real Time Inventory Visibility
Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) is one such technology solution that has been increasingly integrated throughout the supply chain for both security and inventory tracking. An RFID tag consists of a tiny microchip with an in-built aerial which contains information on the particular item and is typically fixed to a product or its packaging.
RFID can then be used to identify and track items within the warehouse and beyond. It is able to provide real time inventory updates. Through having greater awareness of inventory, businesses can then reduce products going out of stock. This results in increased overall conversion and, in the end, overall customer satisfaction.
RFID tags communicate with readers, which can be fixed or handheld. Through placing fixed readers in different locations within a warehouse, it is then possible to track the movement of goods, even when numerous products are located on a single pallet.
By ‘source tagging’ during the manufacturing process, complete accuracy on shipment orders can be achieved. This ensures the exact number of items received aligns with those ordered. It also means that merchandise arrives in stores with security labels already in place, which can be deactivated at point of sale, saving the retailer both time and employee resources.
A Clearer View of Warehouse Activity
By combining RFID technology with CCTV solutions, it is possible to provide proof to customers and logistics companies that goods were received or shipped, providing assurances for both parties and complete transparency throughout the supply chain. This can also aid in disputes such as insurance claims when products are lost, misplaced or damaged.
We all know that warehouses can be enormous sprawling maze of aisles, pallets and storage racks. This means a comprehensive CCTV surveillance solution is necessary in order to achieve complete surveillance. By mounting High-Definition Megapixel CCTV on existing IP networks, businesses can reduce initial installation costs and have more versatile camera placement, thereby greatly improving coverage of otherwise ‘blind spots’. HD CCTV is increasingly being deployed in warehouses as it provides superior discernible detail, greatly improving facial recognition ability.
Improved detail can mean that post-event analysis can be conducted with greater efficiency; enabling investigators to analyse and process data more accurately in the event of any criminal activity or prosecution. Through electronic timestamps when searching archived data, police and security staff are then able to hone in on the relevant footage far faster than with analogue recordings.
Warehouse Access Control for People and Vehicles
To physically control the flow of vehicles to and from the site, access control to the site perimeter should be achieved through barriers, bollards and ramps. The choice of vehicular access control solution should be based on the amount of traffic expected, with access often needed for HGVs or forklifts in addition to staff and contractors. Access control should not inconvenience or slow down authorised access for vehicles. To achieve this RFID can once again be used for contactless access control. Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) is another alternative that can make this a smooth and seamless process.
In order to prohibit access to the warehouse from unauthorised persons, access control such as biometrics (fingerprint or retina scanners), smartcards or passwords can be implemented to control their movement within the warehouse. By integrating with employee time and attendance systems, these access control systems can offer added benefits such as providing additional analytics, salary tabulation and cost savings to the business.
An Integrated Approach to Warehouse Security
For any business, we know that the operational and commercial success is dependent on being able to mitigate security risks. This is particularly the case in warehouses. After all highly valuable stock is an attractive prospect for criminals. However RFID technology and CCTV should not be used simply for reducing theft and loss. Instead it can also be utilised for greater operational awareness.
Operators are therefore increasingly turning to an integrated security solution to achieve this. A Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) platform can bring together these otherwise disparate solutions, simplifying the command and control. By seamlessly bringing together Access Control, CCTV, RFID, Intruder detection and Fire systems, security operators can have an at-a-glance snapshot of all operations, enhancing their situational awareness and increasing their ability to react not just to any security infringements but also operational errors.
The future of the supply chain should begin with the warehouse. Through the implementation of the technology solutions discussed, and tailoring them to the needs and specifications of the warehouse building and site, businesses are able to reap not just improved security but greater efficiency throughout the supply chain.