Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Five steps for developing a cohesive safety and security strategy

May 1, 2017
By Taleen Merjanian Tyco Integrated Fire & Security

Photo: AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images Plus

May 1, 2017 – The manufacturing industry is filled with complexities, from dealing with hazardous materials and overseeing intricate processes to managing inventory and seamlessly moving products to the market.

With so many moving parts, there is inevitably room for vulnerabilities. In order to help protect your operation, it is important to create a comprehensive safety and security plan before an incident occurs, not after. A proactive security strategy can help to protect your company from losses and ensure your brand’s reputation is not damaged. When building a plan, the first step is to identify the major threats to your company.

Top threats for manufacturing companies
• Fire safety risks can include accidental floods, fire damage or an employee injured on the job. These risks can be life threatening to your employees and can cause damaging effects to your business.

• With the rise of digital technology, intellectual-property theft can be a major problem. Theft of trade secrets and infringements on patents can negatively affect the success of your business.

• Intentional damage to your expensive equipment, known as process tampering, poses a risk to your supply chain and product outcome.


• Diversion takes many forms, but can often arise when products intended for one market (domestic or overseas) are sold to an alternative, unauthorized market at a highly discounted price. This can greatly devalue a brand.

• Cargo theft, the most prevalent security risk, can occur during any stage of the supply chain, including warehouses, containers, truck trailers and couriers. In Canada, cargo theft is a $5 billion problem, according to the Canadian Trucking Alliance. Each year, Canadian carriers have more than $1 billion in losses and claims, as per the Ontario Trucking Association initiative, Best Practices to Prevent Theft. The potential impact of these threats, from both an economic and reputation standpoint, can be detrimental.

Building a proactive security strategy
Once specific challenges and vulnerabilities are identified, you can develop your safety and security plan using the following five steps: assess, adopt, access, alert and audit.

Assess vulnerabilities
You have identified your business’ vulnerabilities, but now you must critically assess them. To do so, pinpoint exactly where vulnerabilities may occur throughout your internal, local and global supply chain. Take into consideration the unique threats posed at each level and target specific points of vulnerability through the lens of life-safety, intellectual-property theft, process tampering, diversion and cargo theft. While some trigger points may be more obvious than others, be strategic and honest with the effectiveness of your pre-existing operations and policies. Additionally, be sure to comply with corporate standards and applicable regulatory requirements. If you operate globally, be aware that each country has its own specific rules and regulations.

Adopt necessary safety measures
Security and fire-life safety precautions help to provide vital protection for your people, facilities, products and processes. Customized, integrated fire protection and security solutions demonstrate your commitment to the highest level of security in the case of an emergency. For example, a monitored fire alarm system notifies the fire department when an alarm goes off to help ensure responders arrive in a timely manner. And with addressable notification features, advanced notification systems with audio control can be programmed to guide occupants to safety.

Control access
Once you have identified the specific areas of risk in your operations, increase protection by limiting who can access critical control points. These measures restrict who is permitted in designated areas. They give you control and prevent prohibited guests from having free-range of the facility, jeopardizing critical assets.

You can prevent unauthorized access to these sensitive areas through integrated video and access control systems. Video surveillance, integrated with access control, allows you to monitor and record security breaches, and better prepare for future incidents.

Alert authorities
Once you have installed the appropriate security technology and identified critical control points, another layer of protection is to monitor video surveillance of these points and alert authorities in the event of threats to your facility or employees. Proactive detection and rapid response are critical factors to safeguarding your business.

Audit procedures
Finally, regular audit procedures help ensure operational and regulatory compliance, and make adjustments in the case of a security breach. This maintains the integrity of your security strategy and technology and ensures that it is dependable. Additionally, regular audits promote a safety culture that ensures the longevity and effectiveness of established best practices.

Bringing it all together
Manufacturing facilities can help to mitigate even these risks by following these guidelines and implementing a comprehensive security strategy, customized for your unique processes and operations. The key to implementing a successful plan is to integrate safety and security measures into daily operations. As budgetary constraints tighten, it’s important to demonstrate that safety and security measures can be operationalized for optimum value.

Taleen Merjanian, corporate marketing manager, has worked in the security and life safety industry with Tyco Integrated Fire & Security for over 20 years. Tyco Integrated Fire & Security, part of Johnson Controls, provides comprehensive fire protection, security and life-safety solutions and services for businesses and large enterprises across Canada.

This column was originally published in the May 2017 issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION.

Print this page


Story continue below