7 ways to improve warehouse security

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Security is a critical element for any warehouse environment. Industrial warehouses, manufacturing plants, and storage facilities present a unique challenge for security managers, often due to the vast amount of ingress and egress occurring in the space. Warehouse theft is a major concern all over the globe, with both internal and external theft costing companies millions of dollars every year in damages, losses, and supply chain disruptions. In 2020, supply chain risk events increased by 16% in North America, according to CargoNet. With both people and inventory to keep track of, having the right warehouse security systems in place will make for a safer, more efficient environment. Here are seven tips for improving warehouse security, and how they impact warehouse safety.

1. Upgrade your access control system

While most warehouses and industrial storage facilities already use some form of access control, many are still relying on outdated on-premise server systems and traditional credentials. Updating to more modern access control, like RFID warehouse door locks and cloud-based security platforms, can provide better security. A cloud-based, mobile access control system for warehouses is a smart investment that improves safety and strengthens security across the board. Some of the benefits of mobile and cloud-based warehouse security include:

  • Eliminates key cards and fobs with smartphone-based credentials

  • Remote access to the security management dashboard

  • Customizable permissions for different levels of access

  • Ability to adjust schedules for warehouse door locks at any time

  • Cloud-based software is automatically updated without expensive maintenance fees

  • All access activity is logged for easy auditing and improved compliance

With mobile credentials, employees have access to all authorized sites with a single credential, rather than using a separate key card for every building or zone. In addition, a modern warehouse access control system enables site managers to make changes instantly, whether they need to revoke an employee’s access, change group schedules, or add new entries into the system.

Having a detailed log of who is coming and going is a best practice for warehouse and manufacturing facility compliance. Activity tracking makes it quick and easy to audit any issues with inventory to see who accessed certain areas at specific times. Because warehouses and manufacturing buildings have a lot of people with different shifts and access levels, an access control system with filterable and searchable activity logs keeps everything organized and easily accessible without adding time and manual labor to the equation.

A modern, cloud-based access control system is an essential tool for loss prevention in warehouses, and can help make managing a warehouse more efficient and more secure.

2. Install warehouse security cameras

Having visibility into what’s happening inside and outside the facility is a must for warehouse security. Installing warehouse security cameras at key ingress and egress points will provide a visual of incoming and outgoing product, as well as add visual identity verification of who is accessing the space. Having eyes on what is going on inside the warehouse can also help improve employee safety. A warehouse houses many potential hazards and there are numerous different OSHA standards regulating warehouse operations. Common employee injuries are incurred working with roller conveyors, materials handling, and operating forklifts etc. Keeping an eye on what is going on inside the warehouse can alert employers to safety issues or hazardous practices, allowing them to correct or report them.

When choosing a warehouse security camera system, look for options with real-time recording, automatic archiving, and high video quality. Cloud-managed video systems have the added advantage of unlimited storage in the cloud, so you can retain detailed video logs for improved compliance and auditing purposes. Certain industries have requirements for video retention, so check with local authorities to make sure your warehouse security camera system meets those standards.

To prevent security teams from having to log in and out of multiple systems every time they need to verify an event, choose a cloud-based video security system with an open platform, so you can integrate the surveillance with other systems. For example, if a security manager receives an after-hours access alert, an integrated system allows them to check real-time and recorded video of the event without having to switch between platforms and providers. When pairing a video intercom with your access control and surveillance system, you are able to get a clear view of any unauthorized door entries or forced entry attempts on one platform. This small step saves critical minutes for reporting and preventing warehouse security breaches.

3. Take advantage of remote management

Especially for companies with multiple warehouse buildings or locations, a smart access control system with remote capabilities reduces administrative burden by centralizing security management on one easily accessible interface. Even with just one warehouse, remote management has an impressive ROI. Cloud-based systems with remote monitoring allow admins and managers to see what’s happening in real-time, without being on-site. This is great for after-hours security, or when staffing at the warehouse is limited due to social distancing or capacity constraints.

Remote warehouse security systems also improve issue response. Especially with an integrated security system that pulls real-time data from multiple sources, security managers can respond faster, with the appropriate action based on the situation. When every minute counts, such as in the case of a break-in or other emergency, those remote capabilities are worth every penny.

4. Enable alerts and notifications

In order to take full advantage of remote management and integrated systems, warehouse teams should set up customized alerts and notifications. For example, setting an alert for an access event, such as a door left ajar, or a repeated attempt to use an unauthorized credential, the warehouse access control system can send a text or email to the right person to handle the response. With full customization, you could even have the alerts go to different people based on their work schedules, the time of day, or the specific zone. This keeps the right people informed, and makes response time quicker and more efficient.

5. Integrate your inventory management systems

Take your integrations for warehouse security systems a step beyond just commercial security systems. Using RFID and barcode scanners for inventory tracking is a common upgrade for eliminating manual data logging and reducing the chance for human error in inventory tracking. Now, many manufacturing and warehouse inventory management systems and manufacturing software tools are also built on open and cloud-based platforms. By connecting your inventory management system to access control and warehouse video surveillance systems, you open the door for powerful automations across the entire operation.

One use case for an integrated RFID inventory management and commercial security system is linking employee access credentials to their user accounts. This aggregated data increases accountability, and can help warehouse managers identify ways to improve productivity. Integrated systems offer a more proactive approach to warehouse management, with more data from different systems ingested into analytics tools.

6. Be prepared with emergency plans

Dealing with any type of emergency is stressful. But by taking a proactive approach to security, and planning for different emergencies, warehouses can reduce the impact of a crisis situation. When creating warehouse emergency plans, it’s important to consider the unique features of each building and location. For example, look at crime rates in the area and consider the types of natural disasters that can occur. Evaluate the number of people that use the facility each day, and the types of items the warehouse stores. A facility that distributes clothing will require different emergency plans than one that houses harmful chemicals.

A warehouse security system should also include lockdown capabilities. In the event of an emergency, warehouse managers need to be able to lock down the facility, both for loss prevention and safety purposes. Often standard with modern retail security systems, a remote warehouse access control system allows authorized individuals to trigger a lockdown plan from anywhere. When connected with alarm systems and video surveillance, the access control system can automatically send an alert, trigger the system lockdown, notify first responders, and enable warehouse managers to view real-time video footage.

7. Audit your security regularly

Just because you’ve installed new warehouse security systems recently doesn’t mean you're getting the best protection. Situations can change very quickly, so scheduling regular security audits can prevent more serious problems before they occur. Even the most modern technology requires regular audits and updates! Using a workplace security audit checklist, you and your warehouse security system integrator can check that all your physical security systems are in working order. Some often-overlooked areas of warehouse security include:

  • Natural surveillance including landscaping around the facility

  • Perimeter security systems, such as parking lots, outdoor lighting, and signage

  • Checking all video security cameras, inside and around the perimeter, to ensure they are functioning properly and installed to maximize visibility

  • Auditing all security hardware and replacing any outdated readers, controllers, or locking hardware 

  • Testing warehouse security door locks to make sure they are secure

  • Checking all system software for upgrades, and ensuring new features are enabled and configured correctly

Have questions or need help evaluating your warehouse security system? Contact us to learn more about cloud-based access control and physical security solutions for warehouses and manufacturing facilities.