Video surveillance to avoid logistical nightmares

April 21, 2022


Michael Lawrence, Marketing Director, Dahua Technology UK and Ireland explores how a new breed of cameras is helping facilities to keep on top of operations.

Long gone are the days of the nightwatchman patrolling warehouses and manufacturing premises to deter and prevent intruders.

Instead, managers of manufacturing, warehouse and distribution facilities now have access to a panoply of sophisticated video surveillance solutions that don’t just help keep an eye on things, but provide a staggering range of AI features to automate functions which previously didn’t exist – or had to be carried out laboriously by CCTV control room operators.

AI, or machine learning, is based on algorithms which work like a series of fast moving flowcharts to compare live objects or people with a database of stored references. Combined with superior sensors and high resolution cameras, AI-enabled cameras are providing a host of features and functions which a few years ago were only found in complex, high end systems or were confined to the realms of science fiction.

For manufacturing, warehousing and logistics applications, AI video surveillance can be a boon. In manufacturing for example, AI-enabled cameras can be set to detect incorrect processes by machines or humans, damage to products and packaging or breaches of health and safety protocols.

One major use of smart video surveillance in such situations is to defend damaged item claims made further down the supply chain – it’s powerful evidence if the warehouse can produce video showing an item undamaged during the production and packing process. In addition, health and safety compliance among the workforce can be monitored by setting a virtual tripwire around a potentially dangerous area of machinery. Similarly, video evidence can be used to defend unfounded claims of personal injury.

Moving outside to logistics and distribution areas, ANPR-enabled cameras are used to monitor and record vehicle access and egress, while AI-enabled cameras can help control the traffic flow and access of vehicles to enhance security and help enforce site regulations and safety.

Timber staircase manufacturer

Video surveillance also comes into its own with external site and perimeter security; AI cameras can be set to detect people or vehicles loitering or approaching a high security area. Dahua Technology’s TiOCs (Three-in-One Cameras) have been installed at a timber staircase manufacturer, whose warehouse previously suffered a break-in, where they are used for perimeter protection.

Sixteen 5MP TiOCs have been installed by Basson CCTV at the Jack Rowlands Timber Staircase site in Harlow which designs and manufactures traditional timber staircases and matching staircase components. The TiOC is essentially an automated monitoring and alarm solution that provides full colour images, day and night.

This significantly improves the ability to identify suspects and increases the quality of video evidence. Powerful AI functions result in quicker, more accurate and longer range motion detection and tracking of suspects. In addition, it enables more accurate targeting of people and vehicles while filtering out nuisance objects such as leaves and car headlights.

TiOC’s active deterrence functions are comprised of a bright flashing red and blue light which can be seen even in dense fog and heavy rain. An enhanced speaker delivers more than 110 dB and features a deep-sounding recorded voice.

Jack Rowlands, Managing Director of Jack Rowlands Timber Staircase, said: “We have been very impressed with the performance of the Dahua TioCs and the deterrence value of the lights and sound is outstanding. Also, despite periods of torrential rain, they have not given off any false alarms.”

Another example of the use of AI-enabled cameras in such settings is a 64-camera system at a large warehouse and distribution centre for Pets Corner, a nationwide chain of more than 150 stores dealing with pets, pet food and pet accessories. The purpose built 43,000 sq ft warehouse in West Sussex supplies all the UK stores and the company’s online business. The objectives for the surveillance system are to monitor the health and safety of workers, reduce stock damage and shrinkage and protect lorries parked in the yard overnight.

The cameras – installed by Urban Security Systems & Fire – are a mix of Dahua Starlight domes and AI bullet cameras. All of them have a minimum of 5MP resolution and feature AI analytics, enabling features such as face recognition, ANPR, content analytics, incident detection, people counting and heat maps. The cameras have high image quality, bandwidth efficiency using H.265 compression and edge analytics and excellent low light performance. The products are installed internally and externally, at the top and bottom of each aisle and at all delivery entry and exit points.

Power is delivered over ethernet cable which therefore reduces and simplifies cabling requirements. Using ePoE cameras also enabled the integrator to run cable more than 95m in distance and in one case as far as 160m. Other Dahua equipment installed was a 64TB NVR, three managed ePoE Ethernet switches and a 24-port Gigabit L2+ managed ethernet switch.

“When building our new National Distribution Centre, we wanted a system that would not only give us maximum security but assist in maintaining operational and health and safety standards,” explained Graham Denny, Director of Logistics at Pets Corner. “The results from Urban Security Systems are excellent, providing us with outstanding video imagery, which is simple to use on my laptop, desktop and phone.”

Supersized warehouse

State-of-the-art video surveillance equipment also comes into its own when monitoring very large warehouse or logistics facilities. Costex Tractor Parts – a distributor of parts and engines for heavy equipment headquartered in Miami, Florida – has a new 350,000 sq ft facility where a 190-camera system with 256 channels of recording, a digital surveillance system server, extended video server and 13 switches of either 16-ports or 24-ports have been installed utilising 20,000 ft of fibre optic cabling.

The system has been designed with nine client stations so that managers only have access to their areas of responsibility, while the company’s CEO is able to view footage from all the cameras from the comfort of an office. With future expansion in mind, the system is also scalable and will be able to access remote locations when necessary, with an eventual total storage requirement reaching more than 240TB.

Costex managers immediately experienced the benefit of their new system as during the construction of the warehouse, a window shattered. Using the NVR’s smart search feature, they were able to efficiently pull the incident out of three days’ worth of footage and demonstrate that the window had broken on its own – and then claim the warranty on it. They also caught a construction worker causing damage and shared the incident with the construction company.

Airside logistics

Dahua PTZ cameras are also installed at aviation support services provider, Aerocharter, whose main activities are the handling, storage and supervision of cargo. The logistics company needed a video security system with high reliability and advanced technology; this would allow it to monitor all its processes in an agile way to safeguard its clients’ assets and follow up in real time with the transfer of packages from collection to delivery. Cameras, which include AI to enable monitoring and box-counting, are being rolled out at multiple facilities around the US.

With ramp services, operators use cameras to ensure best practices in cargo handling, while mobile cameras and recorders are used in collection vehicles so as to provide video evidence of the transfer processes.

The access control system provides real time supervision of the flow of personnel in warehouses, maintenance bases, spare parts warehouses and storage areas for valuable items. Thanks to the surveillance solution, theft or loss of merchandise in the ramp areas has been minimised, worker productivity has increased in the disembarkation area and greater care is taken in handling packages.

It can be seen that today’s video surveillance systems can provide so much more than security monitoring. In logistics and warehousing applications, the best performing systems are embedded into the operations of a facility, providing an essential element in managing a range of business operations while helping to keep the site safe and secure.

This article was originally published in the April edition of Security Journal UK. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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