Minimizing physical security risks at your plant

How effective is your approach to preventing industrial threats?

By Sheila Kennedy, CMRP

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Cyber concerns may be all over the news, but ensuring your facilities’ physical security remains an enduring imperative. Industrial and critical infrastructure facilities face an ever-expanding list of threats coming from all directions – land, sea, and air.

Adversarial or innocent trespassers as well as vandalism, sabotage, theft, and malicious attacks are common concerns. Today, there may be weaponized or intelligence-gathering drones flying overhead or submarines underwater. Lone-wolf or organized terrorist attacks are possible. Even an authorized building occupant could “go ballistic.” Are you prepared to handle the possible threats?

Because any security lapse may be presumed to result from negligence, choosing the right set of protective and corrective measures to avoid, detect, and neutralize threats is crucial. Hazards must be anticipated and actively mitigated with measures that are adaptive and resilient and that ensure a rapid response – particularly in dangerous situations.

Having multiple, integrated layers of security and controls will provide optimal protection, and the options available are many and growing. For example:

  • Deterrence is aided by fortified perimeters, intelligent access controls, and a visible security presence, whether human or robotic.
  • Detection is facilitated by monitoring and sensing systems, radar, sonar, and robots that generate real-time alarms when a security breach or event occurs and when security, process, and safety monitoring systems are integrated and centrally viewable.
  • Delaying progression of a threat is possible with more-effective barriers, better locking mechanisms, and isolation of sensitive areas.
  • Response is expedited when real-time alarms are received in the control room and on smart devices; mass messages can be communicated; and tools to quickly intercept and neutralize the threat are at hand.

Following are some examples of modern security solutions designed with a common goal: to better safeguard your people, facilities, and company assets and allow threats to be neutralized more quickly and efficiently.

Protection at the perimeter



Integrated monitoring and protection systems for vehicle access control points (ACPs) help mitigate vulnerabilities along perimeter fencing. “An ACP poses a number of possible security and maintenance issues that are challenging to reliably detect and quickly report, especially given that they may be in remote, isolated locations,” says Chuck Davidson, principle software engineer at HySecurity.

The HyNet Gateway interface provides networking functions to all HySecurity intelligent automated gate operators, barrier arms, and crash wedge barriers. In real time, it detects and logs events such as tailgating by unauthorized vehicles; a gate being forced open; obstructions preventing a gate from closing; a gate staying open for too long; and maintenance issues.

A large, secure employee parking garage serving a major manufacturing plant installed HySecurity gates and HyNet interfaces to monitor vehicle entries and exits at the ACPs and to report critical maintenance and security issues in real time. In Canada, a rail line is currently deploying the gates and interfaces throughout the country to monitor and control shipping traffic at the ACPs.

High-strength gates and fences fortify the perimeter of refineries, utilities, government facilities, and other security-sensitive sites. Those that pass the ASTM F2656-07 M50 P1 crash test are able to stop a 15,000-pound truck traveling 50 mph with less than 1-meter penetration of the leading edge of its cargo bed. Examples include the XT-4200 Gate and XL-501 Fence from Ross Technology.

In addition to its strength, ease of installation provides value for the XL-501 Fence design, says Scott Espensen, perimeter security product manager at Ross Technology. Patented energy-absorbing technology reduces material and installation costs. “Our customers have reported back that it takes them roughly half the time to install our post-and-beam fence compared to cable systems, and that translates into significant and tangible cost savings,” Espensen says.

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