In a commercial environment of ever tightening margins, competitors at every turn and rising customer expectations, no warehouse or storage facility owner can afford to have inventory go missing. Unfortunately, it happens. One of the most unsettling and costly ways this can occur is when there’s a security breach.
The extensively publicised theft in January 2022 of 42,000 COVID-19 test kits (worth more than $500,000) from a Sydney freight depot should serve as a reminder of the need to maintain a high degree of security in any place where goods are stored. Weak security measures provide temptations to chronic wrongdoers and to anyone else who may momentarily stray from the straight and narrow to score a free product or make an easy buck. Recognising that non employee and employee theft are constant possibilities and can occur at any time, a sound warehouse security strategy is one that covers internal and external threats both within and outside of standard warehouse operating hours.
One of the chief dangers when it comes to warehouse security is complacency. When an extensive period of time has elapsed without a breach of any type, security can become less of a focus. It’s only when that run of good luck – and often it is just luck – comes to an end that security shoots back up the priority list. But by then it is, of course, too late. A review of a facility’s security measures should be carried out routinely, each time with the aim of ensuring that best practices are constantly being adhered to.
There are, of course, a number of measures that can be put in place to maximise warehouse security. How well does your storage facility stack up?
Here are some guidelines you may want to follow to make sure that when it comes to security you have all your bases covered.
Video surveillance is one of the many beneficiaries of the digital revolution.
If you have been reluctant to invest in video surveillance technology because it was perceived as being too costly, too difficult to manage or of limited usefulness, it’s now worth taking a second look. Similarly, if your surveillance camera setup hasn’t changed in several years, you could probably benefit from an upgrade. This is because – as with many other aspects of business technology – video surveillance equipment has improved a lot in recent years in terms of affordability, usability and effectiveness.
Undoubtedly you will be able to source a video surveillance system that suits your budget and delivers a level of security that was simply unavailable even a decade ago. Current CCTV systems offer such features as high definition video, cloud storage, thermal imaging, motion sensing, remote access via mobile phone and other features that make it easy to keep a sharp eye on what’s happening in and around your storage facility.
Criminals routinely hide under the cover of darkness. A well lit warehouse and its surrounds will serve as a deterrent to would be thieves, so it’s important to maintain bright lighting within all at risk areas.
Motion sensitive lighting, which is activated whenever movement is detected, can also be a worthwhile investment.
If it’s easy for anyone to enter your storage facility, it’s possibly not difficult for someone to leave with something they shouldn’t have. It’s therefore important to restrict access to those who are formally authorised to be there. This measure should extend to employees as not all staff members have a need to be within certain areas of the warehouse.
You may also want to invest in electronic access control technology, such as an RFID door lock system or a cloud based mobile access control system. These types of systems not only enable you to decide who can enter your facility but also at which times they can gain access and to which areas. They also provide you with an digital log of all activity including who accessed your facility, when and for how long.
If your warehouse is one that has people coming and going throughout the day, a sign in book, which all guests and other visitors must sign in order to gain access, may be a policy that’s worth implementing.
Motion Sensing and Glass Break Detection
It’s not just with regards to motion activated lighting (mentioned above) that motion sensing has its place. As part of your overall electronic surveillance arsenal you may want to include motion sensors. These useful security tools detect and track movements that occur when your premises are supposed to be unoccupied and send real time alerts to managers.
If your storage facility has ground‑level windows you may want to consider glass break detectors. When the noise or vibration from a window exceeds a certain point, such as when someone is trying to smash their way in, a sensor is triggered, an alarm is set off and a relevant manager or your security provider is alerted in real‑time.
Security should not be the concern of upper management only; it should be something that’s a point of focus for all employees. Make sure your staff members understand how important security is and that a serious security breach could impact every person in the organisation in one way or another. Also ensure that your employees are consistently adhering to your facility’s security policies and procedures.
In a way, your employees are the ones whose eyes and ears are closest to the ground. By discussing security with your workers you may discover areas of vulnerability that you were previously unaware of, whether that be blind spots within your warehouse or suspicious behaviours that are being exhibited by visitors or other employees.
Know Where Everything Is
With an effective ERP solution your warehouses will be well organised and it will be harder for items to simply ‘get lost’ in your warehouse. Setting up good Bin Locations to suit your needs will help you know where everything should be and stolen items can be identified quickly.
If you have employees helping themselves to stock without effective stock management systems, you will find it hard to identify when things are being stolen or just put in the wrong place. Improving your warehouse security is as much about effective warehouse management as it is about effective security technology.
The final word...
Just as it is, as the old saying goes, better to be safe than sorry, it can also be said that it’s better to be secure than sorry. And today, largely because of the major strides forward that security technology has taken in recent years, there really is no reason to compromise on warehouse security. It really isn’t hard to improve your warehouse security with modern technology.
A well put together theft protection strategy that applies the latest in security technology and which follows industry best practice will not only safeguard your facility from unwelcome intrusions but will also give you the peace of mind of knowing that, in the hopefully unlikely event of a security breach, there was nothing that could realistically have been done to prevent it.