The spices millions of people sprinkle on their food undergo a somewhat lengthy – and careful – production process before hitting grocery shelves. Operators of spice manufacturing plants must closely supervise areas of production to ensure that no foreign objects or particles fall into the spices before they are shipped to distribution centers.
At the Alferi Labs spice factory in Little Chute, Wis., company management decided about two years ago to use CCTV surveillance cameras to closely monitor production. Last year, the company decided to add an access control system to monitor employees and vendors entering and leaving the plant, and to further ensure quality spice production.
Continuing its working relationship, Alferi went to TECC Security Systems Inc. of Neenah, Wis., the company that installed the CCTV cameras as well as the spice factory’s security system, to determine the type of card access system best suited for the facility. Coincidently, during the time the security firm was assessing different access systems, it was presented with a new wireless system from Recognition Source of St. Charles, Ill.
According to TECC Security, after seeing a product demo for the manufacturer’s Wireless access system, it decided the product was well suited for the application. The security firm liked the fact that the system was cost-effective and easier and faster to install, primarily due to the system’s integrated reader lock, which cuts down on wiring.
Access System Further Ensures Productivity
When it comes to processing spices, the most mundane particles or objects, such as pencils being carried in employees’ shirt pockets or dust from drilling holes, can pose a major threat. A tampered batch of spices can mean losing money and a day’s worth of work.
While the CCTV surveillance cameras located inside the plant are fixed to constantly monitor spice production, Alferi wanted another layer of security through a card access system. The access system would also satisfy post-Sept. 11, 2001 security concerns.
TECC Security initially dealt with Alferi regarding this installation sometime before May 2002 and gave the company some options on the type of access control system it wanted. It was determined at the time that seven doors would be covered, and that software and visitor ID cards would be provided. After Kuehl met with Alferi management a second time, the plan was changed to include nine doors.
Product Demo Convinces Firm to Use System
TECC Security Systems, formed in 1993, monitors more than 700 accounts. Its primary revenue-generating business is in residential and commercial security. Access control and CCTV business make up another 30 percent of its business, followed by fire/life safety.
Prior to the spice factory installation, the security company installed wired access control systems due to the product lines it carries. However, it so happened that, during the time TECC Security was determining a solution for Alferi, a representative from Recognition Source contacted the security firm to demo the manufacturer’s Wireless access system.
With the Wireless access product, TECC Security concluded that the system would be cost-effective for both the firm and the customer. It would also be easier and faster to install, while still providing the amount of security that Alferi management wanted. One of the system’s components that interested the security company was its integrated reader lock (IRL), which combines a door lock, card reader, request-to-exit sensor, door position terminal, power and RF transceiver all in one unit.
Terry Kuehl of TECC Security clarifies, however, that the company could have just as easily run wire for a hardwired system. But Alferi management also liked the wireless system’s performance during the product demo. They also liked the fact that, with this system, less wire had to be run throughout the building.
Integrated Locks Were Learning Curve Products
The installation at Alferi began in mid-July 2002. It took two technicians from TECC Security approximately 130 man-hours to complete the work. The total cost of the project was $13,000.
The crew first got all the door controllers up and running before mounting and wiring the panel interface modules to the controllers. After that, the technicians then took off the old door locks and placed a template for the IRLs. The crew then began working on Alferi’s front door. There, the technicians cut in an electric strike and placed an HID reader, and wired the two units back to the wireless universal interface, which runs off a 12VDC power supply.
In Alferi’s delivery area, TECC Security placed a cage there and added an HID reader along with an electric strike. Throughout the entire installation, minimal wiring was done. Zero wiring was done from the IRLs to the door controllers or panel interface modules.
With the entire system in place, the access cards can be used on all the doors, depending on how Alferi programs the cards. The names of employees and vendors, and the times they enter and leave the building, are all logged by the software.
Kuehl says the most challenging part of the installation was just learning to work with the product (new to the security company). Also, during this phase, TECC Security discovered an internal glitch with some of the installed IRLs because those doors would not release. Had the system been a hardwired one, Kuehl says the job would have still only required two technicians, but they would have spent more hours to pull wire. Also, the price tag on the system would have increased $3,000 to $4,000.
From this installation, TECC Security has decided to now use the Wireless access control system in other applications; where there are special requirements in buildings, for example.