G4S customers benefit as industry titan makes it happen

July 10, 2023


G4S provides insights into the manufacturing sector’s focus and challenges, and provides examples of its holistic, risk-based approach to security.

While there are many threats and challenges UK manufacturers share, each will face specific issues, and require a tailored security solution.

G4S provides security for thousands of manufacturing businesses, large and small, across hundreds of sectors and in almost every area of the UK and Northern Ireland.

It covers sectors from high-end automotive to poultry processing. It also highlights how security and safety services being provided together by one specialist team can deliver benefits for the manufacturing sector.

G4S shared security focus

While there are significant differences between manufacturers, which impact their security requirements, there are also many areas of focus that are common to all manufacturers.

Manufacturing businesses focus on protecting employees, visitors and assets, on health and safety and on protecting the business’s information and reputation.

In addition, there is one requirement that has a major impact on all their processes and services, including security: the need to ensure continuity of business – to keep the manufacturing process going. All this will be done in an environment of balancing risk while driving efficiencies.

Continuity of manufacturing

Any unscheduled pause in the production process will create significant costs for a business, and could result in penalties for late delivery, so many of the procedures and security operations will be designed to mitigate this risk and deal with any issue quickly.

Manufacturing can be disrupted in many ways, from a suspected fire on site leading to an evacuation, to protests or product tampering, or an issue with the delivery or theft of an essential component, material or ingredient.

With many businesses using a ‘Just in Time’ approach to procurement, ordering items to arrive when they are required, rather than holding large quantities in warehouses, there can be a large number of deliveries each day. Some G4S manufacturing sites see 500 or more vehicle movements a day.

The security provider must operate an effective system to ensure that the correct vehicles are admitted and that there are no delays, which could disrupt manufacturing.

Processes will include ensuring that the deliveries to site and vehicles leaving site are scheduled to do so, with the correct serial numbers as part of an auditable chain. In some sectors, such as the food sector, vehicles will also be weighed on arrival and departure.

Contractors will also be checked to ensure that they have the right to be on site, with passes issued to allow access only to permitted areas. Visitors will be processed and handed over to a member of staff. Access to critical manufacturing equipment should be tightly controlled, particularly on sites that could be a target for theft or protests.

While some materials may not have a high intrinsic value, they may be a critical part of the manufacturing process and, if lost or stolen, may have a significant impact on production, so must be secured on site.

Protecting employees and assets

The processes and procedures designed to minimise disruption to manufacturing are also part of a larger focus on protecting employees, visitors, business assets, and even the end purchaser of the final product.

Using a consultative approach, G4S works with clients to assess the areas of risk and develop a bespoke plan for each site, which may include changes to physical security, technology, procedures, and guarding.

Security responsibilities on manufacturing sites can be extremely broad, including access and egress controls, patrols and inspections, ensuring that people are in the correct areas and wearing the correct PPE, control of keys, lock-down of offices outside of business hours, front of house/reception, weighbridge security functions, security inductions, and cash collection services.

While many security officers have been first aid trained and also act as fire marshals, there is a growing opportunity for security personnel to protect employees and assets, while also protecting the continuity of manufacturing, by providing enhanced safety services, which are discussed later.

Manufacturing sites tend to be built over a large area, with a large, fenced perimeter, surveillance systems, and buildings a distance from the fence line, so there is an open area in which to detect people.

Security officers will manage the perimeter, either on-site or remotely. Search and screening for employees and visitors offers further protection and can be technology-enabled or performed manually to identify restricted items being brought into or taken out of the production area.

The size of some sites means the G4S uses vehicles to respond quickly to incidents. There is also the opportunity to use drones, which can cover large distances quickly and provide live feed surveillance.

Protecting against stock loss in the manufacturing environment, as in all sectors, requires physical security, technology, procedures, and guarding to work together.

The higher risk the product is, the more measures will be introduced, such as the use of security cages, a higher level of surveillance systems, and restrictions on access around the site.

Even for manufacturers that are not producing items normally considered attractive for theft (often small and high value) there may be a continuous low level of theft, and the security team will investigate alleged incidents.

In addition to ensuring that stock is not lost to theft, the security team must ensure that they don’t allow items onto site that could be harmful to the business.

For example, animal rights, or other protestors, could attempt to contaminate food production. For a leading poultry manufacturer, G4S conducts vehicle inspections as one element of its service to guard against activist intrusion.

For the same manufacturer, G4S maintains advanced surveillance of the production areas on some sites. This can involve over 200 cameras, which are used by the client team to review any contraventions around food safety or for incident investigations. The surveillance system is part of the overall security system, which includes perimeter and access doors monitored by G4S.

The use of production area surveillance is one example of how certain manufacturing industries have very specific and additional requirements. Food manufacturers have strict rules to follow on traceability and are also externally audited to ensure they, and their suppliers, are complying with relevant hygiene and other standards.

Protecting information and reputation

The protection of information/intellectual property and the business’s reputation are paramount.

Poor security, for example leading to intrusion by protestors or product tampering or food contamination, can have a catastrophic impact on the reputation of a business and its brand/s.

Businesses will also be highly protective of their design and innovation centres, with tailored security supporting and enforcing site procedures.

With its nationwide and integrated security capability, G4S works with manufacturers across their multiple locations, covering different business functions – from production sites to research and development, test sites and offices, each with its own risks and challenges.

Manufacturers can benefit from consolidation of their security supply chain, resulting in clear accountability for delivery, consistency of service across the estate, and value for money.

Significant differences

While manufacturers have many areas of focus and challenges in common, there are also significant differences. This can be illustrated by G4S’s poultry manufacturer client, which operates from eight production facilities in the UK and Ireland and 1,300 farms and hatcheries. For this client, one of the biggest threats is animal rights protestors.

Along with security designed to protect employees, company assets, information and reputation, G4S has a major focus on preventing and responding to a range of protest-related threats, which could be in any of the business’s locations, including the farms.

Intelligence is shared on locations that may be targeted, and G4S works with the local client team and G4S local operations team to undertake a risk assessment and create a security plan, including guarding, which is deployed at pace. G4S can provide this resource because of its national capability, with relief staff available in every area of the UK and Ireland.

Safety and security together

Due to the use of heavy-duty machinery and equipment in manufacturing, potential fire risks and in some cases hazardous materials, site safety is a key concern.

Regulations on the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) means that many manufacturers are classed as COMAH sites with strict procedures that must be adhered to.

While many security officers have been first-aid and fire marshal trained for a number of years, many sites now benefit from G4S fire and emergency response teams – qualified security officers who are also highly trained to respond to other incidents, including fire, medical incidents and rescue.

One of the first was Babcock in Rosyth, north of Edinburgh, which saw the introduction of a team of specialist G4S security officers trained to fight fires, deliver first aid, navigate confined spaces and rescue at height, to protect workers throughout the assembly and commissioning of the HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales warships.

The team of men and women were trained as all-purpose first responders: firefighters, paramedics and search and rescue professionals who constantly patrolled the aircraft carriers.

During a phase when the aircraft carriers were in the water, the team also provided a water-based rescue service, with boat patrols in the water below those working on the ships.

Babcock and other clients continue to benefit from G4S specialist officers with both security and safety expertise, and you can read more about how a major vehicle manufacturer is benefiting from G4S ‘Plant Protection Officers’ on page 48.

When it comes to creating and training a safety and security team, it is not a case of ‘one cap fits all’. In partnership with the client, G4S reviews the safety risks involved in the business and develops processes to help mitigate the risks, along with a plan of how to respond in the event of an incident.

The bespoke solution

The bespoke solution will involve the team undertaking training that is built around the specific need, rather than simply undertaking generic training. G4S works with a large number of training agencies around the country, many of whom employ serving or retired first responders.

Security for the manufacturing sector is changing in many ways, with advances in technology and new ways of working benefiting the customer, the security provider and the security officers themselves.

However, what remains central to good security is ensuring that each customer receives a bespoke service that meets its individual needs and that security officers are trained to respond to these specific risks and threats. The G4S Academy plays an important role in building expertise through sharing best practice and innovations, running training sessions for employees at all levels and sharing knowledge with clients.

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