With the modern day shopper increasing the demands of e-commerce and their logistics, the traditional security blueprint within UK warehouses has started to evolve. Technology no longer confines security within the understanding of facilities management, but offers much more transformative benefits across day-to-day warehouse operation.
Meeting with the UKWA Technology Advisory Board was interesting to discuss the potential of the future warehouse to improve business efficiency, employees satisfaction, and competitive advantage. The five foundations of the ‘ideal’ blueprint are as follows:
Step 1- Moving from an ‘Outside in’ to ‘Inside out’ approach
The first step, and the cornerstone of the new approach to security is to consider what we are protecting, and who we are protecting it from. Traditionally, the aim of a security system was to protect the outside of a premises, targeting the one off approach for theft, usually from unknown individuals. Yet in recent years, a shift has occurred from the outside in, with inside theft from customers and employees totalling 44% to 47% of all retail losses. This suggests that traditional systems are less effective, with unscrupulous staff members obtaining the knowledge of camera locations, and carefully planning and removing small amounts of merchandise from within the warehouse over time. While the main effect of these losses are the products themselves, the new era of e-commerce has also enhanced the potential consequences that theft has on the company. Unlike shoppers instore, customers with online orders are more likely to be aggravated when an order is stolen, mishandled, and fails to be delivered, with social media presenting a new threat to the reputation of companies. With this considered, e-commerce has the potential to reduce rate of returns beyond that previously experienced, with the call for effective security systems becoming increasingly essential. To do this, birds eye view cameras are changing the perspective of security, making the merchandise a priority to be protection to thus reduce the potential for theft which has dire consequences on company profits.
Step 2 - Improving the efficiency of employees and company operation
Using an example of a parcel company which has already installed the ‘inside out’ approach to security, we can also evaluate the operational benefits this technology offers to a warehouse on a daily basis. Using Intelligent Warehouse Solution technology, integrated by i-PRO, the £31 million development has increased the parcel processing capacity by 45%. This results in an excess of one million parcels processed every day, due to a birds eye view camera which provides 100% coverage, with the visual accuracy to even read wrist watches. The advanced tracking technology visually records parcel data as it moves around a conveyer belt, flagging the parcel if it does not arrive at the specified part of the location, allowing a quick response to lost parcels. The technology also uses this barcode to separate the packages for the next stage of the workflow, planning the required journey to the end-users. This is completed through a clear numbering system which coincides with the correcting sorting box for employees, thereby reducing miss-sorting by operators which would traditionally be completed through manual sorting of potentially confusing barcodes. The benefits to such a system is vast, with less training required, a higher turnover of agency staff at busy periods of the year such as Black Friday, and a generally improved workplace which enhances the satisfaction of employees.
Step 3 - Managing the need for enhanced security alongside more stringent GDPR Regulations
Despite the benefits of Intelligent Warehouse Solution technology, many companies will raise the question: how can you balance the need for increased security alongside enhanced GDPR regulations? Through people masking technology, a harmony is provided within these two needs, with the identities of staff members remaining concealed and protected within the security system. This technology utilises moving object removal to mask moving objects and conceal static areas that organisations agree should remain confidential. It also provides different user roles, such as the administrator having the responsibility to ensure masking and non-masking is controlled during monitoring and played back according to the authority level. By installing this technology, therefore, businesses are in fact increasing their level of GDPR compliance, and reducing the risk of heavy fines that reach up to 4% of global turnover for the incorrect use of data. Secure communication technology protects against spoofing, video tampering and snooping by protecting IP surveillance communications. It is important to have adequate protection in place to avoid the risk of a data breach.
Step 4 - Viewing security as an investment, rather than a cost
With the benefits of the operational efficiency and GDPR compliance in mind, it then becomes much clearer how security systems are becoming an investment, rather than an economic set back within a business. In fact, some businesses may even regard the benefit of security as a secondary issue in comparison to the evident changes the system makes to the workflow on a daily basis. With the operational benefits, the system can also identify areas for improvement in processes which may have been causing significant damage on a production line, allowing the workflow to be constantly improved and lower insurance premiums. Real interest and long term value is also provided across times such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with work efficiency improving the profits that can be earned. Once these cost benefits become transparent, the most effective solution to the initial cost and upkeep of the system is shown to benefit a range of the business needs, meaning this cost should be spread across all budgets in a business. Applying ‘holistic’ rather than 'siloed' budgets to invest in software, the requirements are thereby met across all functions – from management and operational efficiency to Health and safety, HR and Security – bringing everything together to achieve corporate goals.
Step 5 - Restructuring the responsibility
The initial push to restructure these budgets, also implicates the need to restructure the responsibility of security entirely. This is implicated with the final responsibility for the installation and upkeep of security being moved to the board room. This is essential to the ensure the constant upkeep of the system which is easily disregarded when left as a logistics element of a business, rather than a strategic move in business to enhance company profits and meet a whole range of company goals. From reduced levels of theft which reduces the risk of company reputations being cast under a limelight, to improve working efficiency and meeting GDPR regulations, the ‘inside out’ approach to business security has changed the traditional security blueprint of a UK warehouse to a future proof resolution which enhances corporate achievements for the better.