Bring your warehouse into the future with new security innovations
Written by Tracy Burtwell, Sales Director for National Accounts, ADT Fire & Security
In the past, warehouses may have been seen as a quite separate entity in the overall supply chain; merely as storage for merchandise until it was transported onto its final destination. But businesses are increasingly discovering the advantages of moving towards integrating the modern day warehouse into the greater supply chain, in order to reap the enhanced inventory management, greater loss prevention and shrinkage protection.
Tracy Burtwell, Sales Director for National Accounts at ADT Fire & Security discusses why the future of the supply chain begins with the warehouse, and 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 incorporated throughout the supply chain for both security and inventory tracking. An RFID tag consists of a tiny microchip and small 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, providing real time inventory updates. By having greater awareness of inventory, businesses can then reduce products going out of stock, thereby increasing 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 manufacture, complete accuracy on shipment orders can be achieved; ensuring 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
Through 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.
We all know that warehouses can be a sprawling maze of aisles, pallets and storage racks, meaning 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.
Increased 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. Police and security staff are then able to hone in on the relevant footage through electronic timestamps when searching archived data compared far faster than with analogue recordings.
Warehouse Access Control for People and Vehicles
Access control to the site perimeter should be achieved through barriers, bollards and ramps to physically control the flow of vehicles to and from the site. 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, and RFID can once again be used for contactless access control. Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) is another alternative that can make this a 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. Employee smartcards can even offer added benefits if integrated with employee time and attendance;providing additional analytics 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 certainly the case in warehouses, where highly valuable stock is an attractive prospect for criminals. But RFID technology and CCTV should be used for much more than just reducing theft and shrinkage, and instead 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 to any security infringements.
The future of the supply chain should begin with the warehouse. By implementing the technology solutions discussed, and tailoring them to the needs and specifications of the warehouse building and site, businesses are able to reap greater efficiencies and improved security throughout the supply chain.
Biden establishes Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force
The US government is to establish a new body with the express purpose of addressing imbalances and other supply chain concerns highlighted in a review of the sector, ordered by President Joe Biden shortly after his inauguration.
The Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force will “focus on areas where a mismatch between supply and demand has been evident,” the White House said. The division will be headed up by the Secretaries of Commerce, Transportation, and Agriculture, and will focus on housing construction, transportation, agriculture and food, and semiconductors - a drastic shortage of which has hit some of the US economy’s biggest industries in consumer technology and vehicle manufacturing.
“The Task Force will bring the full capacity of the federal government to address near-term supply/demand mismatches. It will convene stakeholders to diagnose problems and surface solutions - large and small, public or private - that could help alleviate bottlenecks and supply constraints,” the White House said.
In late February, President Biden ordered a 100 day review of the supply chain across the key areas of medicine, raw materials and agriculture, the findings of which were released this week. While the COVID-19 health crisis had a deleterious effect on the nation’s supply chain, the published assessment of findings says the root cause runs much deeper. The review concludes that “decades of underinvestment”, alongside public policy choices that favour quarterly results and short-term solutions, have left the system “fragile”.
In response, the administration aims to address four key issues head on, strengthening its position in health and medicine, sustainable and alternative energy, critical mineral mining and processing, and computer chips.
Support domestic production of critical medicines
- A syndicate of public and private entities will jointly work towards manufacturing and onshoring of essential medical suppliers, beginning with a list of 50-100 “critical drugs” defined by the Food and Drug Administration.
- The consortium will be led by the Department of Health and Human Services, which will commit an initial $60m towards the development of a “novel platform technologies to increase domestic manufacturing capacity for API”.
- The aim is to increase domestic production and reduce the reliance upon global supply chains, particularly with regards to medications in short supply.
Secure an end-to-end domestic supply chain for advanced batteries
- The Department of Energy will publish a ‘National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries’, beginning a 10 year plan to "develop a domestic lithium battery supply chain that combats the climate crisis by creating good-paying clean energy jobs across America”.
- The effort will leverage billions in funding “to finance key strategic areas of development and fill deficits in the domestic supply chain capacity”.
Invest in sustainable domestic and international production and processing of critical minerals
- An interdepartmental group will be established by the Department of Interior to identify sites where critical minerals can be produced and processed within US borders. It will collaborate with businesses, states, tribal nations and stockholders to “expand sustainable, responsible critical minerals production and processing in the United States”.
- The group will also identify where regulations may need to be updated to ensure new mining and processing “meets strong standards”.
Partner with industry, allies, and partners to address semiconductor shortages
- The Department of Commerce will increase its partnership with industry to support further investment in R&D and production of semiconductor chips. The White House says its aim will be to “facilitate information flow between semiconductor producers and suppliers and end-users”, improving transparency and data sharing.
- Enhanced relationships with foreign allies, including Japan and South Korea will also be strengthened with the express proposed of increasing chip output, promoting further investment in the sector and “to promote fair semiconductor chip allocations”.