Case Study: Wholesale Distribution Facilities


A large IT equipment distributor completed a major upgrade to their analogue external Closed Circuit Television (video surveillance) system to a comprehensive surveillance system covering both the inside and external perimeter of its 120,000 square foot distribution center. The result has seen the creation of a security system in and around its warehouse that does far more than just secure it. The warehouse stores some $40 million worth of technology-related computer equipment: everything from laptop computers to plasma screens. Some $2 million worth of goods, in 4,000 separate boxes in an average of 2,500 delivery consignments, leave the warehouse in up to 12 vehicles per day, all going to customers the length and breadth of the region. Over 80 people are employed in the warehouse and 230 in the offices. It holds 11,000 pallet spaces on six levels of shelving, with the highest shelf standing thirty feet high. The distributor serves major high end retailers as well as smaller businesses on a same day or next day delivery service as required by the customer.

Physical security

A total of 14 video surveillance cameras were installed on the outside of the building 11 years ago when it was built to ensure against break-ins. They also employ around-the-clock security. The guards have permanent access to all external and internal cameras. A number of senior managers including the facilities manager have access to images from all the surveillance cameras via their own desktop PCs or the dedicated monitoring office.

The external video surveillance cameras ran back to a VHS tape-based system, supported by a duplexer for post event analysis. This equipment was housed in a dedicated monitoring office within the building. But as the business expanded it became clear that the existing analogue-based system was not satisfactory. The Facility Manager explains: “Searching for a sequence of events after an incident was very difficult. Basically you had to get the VHS tape relevant to the time period you were searching on – a challenge in itself as they relied on VHS tapes being manually switched by the security guard at a precise time early in the morning, every morning. I dreaded the requests coming in to find out where a missing box had gone.”

He further explained another key shortcoming of the old video surveillance system in post analysis: “Quality of image was also an issue – you could only view what the recording had picked up. It was not possible to zoom in on a particular area of the image that were of most interest, or enhance the image to assist any post-event analysis.”

System solution

A variety of fixed dome and PTZ cameras were installed, primarily covering the high value goods sections, the loading bays and the main warehouse areas. The company is now operating some cameras on motion detection. This reduces the amount of data being collected daily and thereby extends the recording capacity. The company is ultimately aiming to retain images for up to 50 days.

Deterrent effect

The increase in the number of cameras inside the warehouse has already had a positive effect on security, productivity and observation of health and safety procedures. The fact that the cameras are there has helped improve adherence with safety practices throughout the warehouse. It is anticipated to help eliminate any poor stacking and lifting practices and could act as an aid to improving forklift truck driver training.

Comments are closed.