Safety, security, and efficiency across the logistics center

While the significant spike in online retail volume has declined somewhat since the Covid peak, its trajectory continues to rise. In the US, at the end of last year, total e-commerce trade as a share of total retail sales reached 13%, while in the UK the current figure is more than 26%. This increase continues to push the expansion of logistics centers, and a recent report suggested the 10% growth in square meter volume achieved in Europe in the past 12 months would be met by a further 3% rise this year.

While automation is increasing efficiency within logistics centers, the reduction in human involvement means fewer people overseeing the processes along the supply chain. This is increasing the importance of technology to ensure staff safety, as well as the security of the goods in their care.

A network camera system can be configured to meet these challenges, and, with the addition of the right apps, the technology can increase operational efficiency, from the order picking line through to delivery.

Logistics center safety

Cameras can efficiently monitor all areas of the logistics center for internal security as well as staff safety, from aisles of racking to dispatch areas. Multisensor cameras provide up to 180° of panoramic view, reducing the total hardware cost in the number of cameras required, whereas for views to obstructed areas, such as aisles of racking, pan, tilt, zoom (PTZ) cameras might be preferable.

Camera monitoring can spot risks, and a live audio message warning of the danger can be relayed, or a member of staff can be prompted to take action. To protect against specific potential hazards, cameras with analytics capabilities can also provide automatic alerts. For example, if a camera detects staff or visitors not wearing personal protective equipment, this can generate a warning via a connected audio speaker. Keeping check on lone workers in transport, wearable cameras can also increase safety with man-down alarms and against assaults.

While vehicles on-site, including trucks, vans, and forklifts, as well as passenger vehicles, can present a safety risk to workers and visitors, technologies integrated with network cameras can create a safer environment. Unsafe speed detected by cameras can be addressed with strobe sirens, combining light and sound to warn drivers, while horn speakers can relay audio messages and instructions. Vehicles can also be tracked with radar, combined with license plate recognition technology, enabling easy identification of driving infringements, from making prohibited short cuts through to driving against one-way directions.

Network cameras with analytics can also keep pedestrians safe by identifying their presence, especially in areas dedicated to vehicles, and raising an alarm to the driver. At the same time, a strobe siren can be used to alert the pedestrian of the danger and warn against the danger.

Holding a high volume of goods, it’s not just staff and visitors that need protection, but the stock itself, and fire presents a high risk. Traditional smoke detectors are effective, but as smoke has to penetrate the sensor before detection is triggered, there can be a delay in alarm. Adding camera detection with high quality imaging for low light conditions can add accuracy and reliability to fire defense. Earlier detection becomes possible, and video images make it easier to identify the cause of the fire.

Ensuring perimeter security

With a concentration of goods, often high value, logistics centers are also lucrative potential targets for theft, and across the supply chain, thefts from logistics centers are on the rise. In particular, peak periods, such as the run-up to Christmas, involving a high proportion of seasonal temporary employees, can present a higher risk. A recognised theft technique is to remove items from the picking line or warehouse and then plant them outside the building in readiness for collection by penetrating the perimeter. Protecting the perimeter is therefore key, and the most robust defense can be achieved with a combination of camera technologies, dependent on situational requirements.

Pan, tilt, zoom (PTZ) cameras can provide detailed visual identification of potential intruders, and together with perimeter defender analytics technology, give automatic alerts about potential perimeter breaches, as well as zooming in and following suspects. Increasing security, alerts and tracking also improves efficiency, enabling fewer staff to cover a wider number of cameras.

The actual number of cameras can also be reduced by introducing thermal and radar technologies. Not requiring visible light, these cameras can provide detection even in hours of darkness. An advantage of radar is wide angle surveillance, while thermal cameras can detect potential intruders at much greater distances than visual cameras. This creates a buffer zone, detecting potential intruders at an earlier stage, enabling deterrence before they reach the fence line. This can include including audio speakers relaying warnings, as well as flood lights that can signify detection. If it’s necessary to deploy security personnel, this can be achieved long before the perimeter is breached.

Access control

Securing the perimeter of the logistics center also means controlling access points. With extensive third-party operation of transport vehicles, particularly if the logistics center uses unmanned loading/delivery bays, verified vehicle access is essential.

Intercom systems, which can also include video communication, enable remote access control to site entrances and unmanned gates, and efficiency and security can be added with automated license plate recognition. This technology increases the ease and speed of vehicle access without the need for staff resources while preventing unauthorized access.

Controlling access to designated areas within the logistics center, access control technology including RFID readers and intercoms enable fast, efficient operation while prohibiting access to restricted areas.

Efficiency in packing and delivery

As well as establishing a safe and secure environment, a network camera system can also improve customer service and efficiency on the packing line. Tracking order packing with video, a bookmark of every order and its receipt can be generated for fast and simple retrieval. This improves customer service, with a much faster response for dealing with complaints, but also reduces loss on incorrect or fraudulent refund claims.

Loading customer orders onto delivery transport, from checking packages onto pallets or boxes into vans, cameras can speed up the process by creating a visual, data-stamped record, without the need for operatives to manually take a photo. This technology can include wearable cameras that are also useful for last mile delivery validation, an efficient way of confirming delivery in the expected condition. Package handling during unloading can also be monitored with network onboard cameras. Meanwhile, inside the vehicle, analytics can be used to alert the driver if a vehicle door or the trunk is opened.

The future of the logistics sector is data- and technology-driven. How do you ensure secure business processes and use technology to make business safer and more sustainable? Network cameras, audio, access control and the capabilities they provide will play a key role in answering this question.

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