After a bomb threat, this Midwestern manufacturing facility combined security systems to avoid a similar scenario in the future.

A bomb threat occurred three years ago at a large Midwestern manufacturing facility, resulting in assembly line shutdowns, fear among all involved, and a plant-wide employee evacuation. Adding a security system to the plant was necessary to avoid future security problems. Combining several security and detection systems in a facility as large as this one takes coordination.

Last month, we covered the technical aspects of combining systems such as these, discussing how often and in which ways we use security systems. This month, we'll go in-depth to show point-by-point use of systems in a single example - this manufacturing facility. Let's look at the plant at the time of the threat and consider necessary upgrades - even after its present improvement.

Structural and layout complications. Many windows and multiple entry doors make up this two-story, sprawling facility. Several wings extending off the main section give the building an irregular shape. Small and temporary buildings provide additional office space.

The campus buildings include two automotive repair bays, four truck docks, a gasoline pump, and a small electrical substation. The cafeteria, located at the far end of the building away from the main entrance, and another wing of the building have exterior doors to access the courtyard.

Security issues before the new system. In addition to the structural and layout complications, workers in this plant had some serious security concerns. Overcrowded by about 33% with about 1625 employees, the facility frequently operates on a two- or three-shift schedule.

At the time of the threat, copies of keys to the entry doors of the facility were abundant among its employees. Worse yet, the building had no air conditioning, so the windows typically remained open during warm weather to cool work areas.

Present security system. Security personnel combined several systems to improve these troubling issues. The main door and the loading docks are now the only unlocked entryways. With this change, all employees carry electronic key cards, necessary to enter the building from side doors.

An unarmed guard checks key cards and signs visitors in and out from the main entrance during normal working hours. This allows the security staff to know who is in the building during the workday. This is valuable information when accounting for employees and visitors during a fire or other emergency situations, such as the previous bomb threat.

Security staff members now keep a visual record of who enters the facility. With a limited number of television cameras to help monitor the main entrance and other locations, it's now possible to store the results on videotapes.

A need for upgrades. Overcrowding is still a serious safety issue. The facility needs to expand to accommodate this problem.

Air conditioning in the building can help to solve some safety considerations, helping security to keep the windows shut and locked. While the loading docks are open during all working hours, added cameras in this area (with real-time monitoring capabilities) can be a simple upgrade.

Since it's necessary to open the side exterior doors from the inside (in case of an emergency), employees sometimes leave these doors open for ventilation. Applying an emergency alarm system, set to sound if a door remains open after a short time period, can help to keep these doors locked.

With these needed upgrades, employees at this facility still don't feel safe.

The goal. Although total security isn't possible, continuing to strive for increased security is necessary. Creating a safe environment by developing an organized set of technologies and responses to be prepared before, during, and after potential security problems is this facility's goal.