Security chiefs nationwide are addressing emerging workplace issues of white-collar crime and computer security. Theft, by internal and external perpetrators, has taken on a new and expensive face with the advent of lightweight computers. On site slips, falls and vehicular accidents lead to expensive liability lawsuits.
Increasing pressure on the bottom line has led many security chiefs to turn to contract labor, which offers its own set of supervisory challenges. Security magazine stated “at least seven in 10 of their readers use private protection officers…and more than one in three of these respondents say they use more security officers than they did three years ago.”
These changes have occurred in an era of economic growth where corporate mergers and acquisitions are commonplace. Over a relatively short period of time, the security chief is likely to see the size and make-up of the buildings and workforce change, dramatically.
A new list of threats, increased reliance on contract labor, and rapid changes in scope and responsibilities force security chiefs to demand more of the security systems they use.
When David Weihe, Chief of Corporate Security, joined Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1992, he inherited a thirty-five-station guard tour system that was worn out and problematic.
Weihe had a large area to protect – two buildings totaling 325,000 square feet on 35 square acres in Louisville, KY. He also had special responsibilities, such as monitoring equipment temperatures. In addition, one of the two KFC buildings lacks a sprinkler system, so fire extinguisher checks are crucial.
When Weihe joined the company, KFC’s corporate parent was PepsiCo, Inc. In January 1997, PepsiCo, Inc. announced the spin-off of its quick service restaurants – KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut – into an independent restaurant company called TRICON Global Restaurants Inc. TRICON (NYSE: YUM) is the world’s largest restaurant system with nearly 30,000 restaurants.
Weihe is now responsible for all of TRICON Global’s corporate locations, including the restaurant support center in Louisville, which employs more than 1,200. The physical sites include two original KFC buildings, which house KFC’s Research and Development unit, a document management center, and another processing facility. He uses 14 contract security officers to maintain a 24/7 presence.
Back in 1992, Weihe knew that he needed a guard tour system that was robust and expandable with state-of-the art data capabilities. Handheld units had to be slim-line, user friendly and tough enough to withstand stand up to constant use by a variety of personnel. The system’s software had to offer fast, comprehensive reports that would help Weihe pinpoint incidents and keep track of every contract employee on every shift and every checkpoint station.
Weihe considered several solutions. He rejected systems that required officers to carry multiple pieces of equipment – strips or buttons – because he considered them complicated and difficult to maintain. He also rejected systems based on UPC (universal product indicator) codes because he considered them too fragile.
In 1993, and again this year, Weihe chose a Morse Watchman guard tour system.
The Morse Watchman tour guard system is made up of three components:
• designated checkpoint stations, placed in fixed locations throughout the facilities,
• a handheld data recorder carried on rounds and uses to check into the key stations and record information; and
• management patrol software, which converts data recorder information to printable custom reports.
Morse Watchman guarantees its checkpoint stations for life. They’re built out of impact-resistant Lexan(r), the material used for professional football helmets.
The PowerCheck 3002, which Weihe upgraded to this year, features Auto Pilot, a user selectable option that displays the next station to visit. The system also gives the customer the option of preprogramming up to 99 different incident reports, all of which can be keyed in by officers on tour.
When the PowerCheck system was ready, training proved simple, thanks to documentation provided by Morse Watchman and the fact that most of the new system’s checkpoint stations were placed in the same locations as the old.
Using the system’s Auto Pilot feature, Weihe has programmed four different tours, three of which guide officers to stations in specific order. The fourth records tour data in random order.
In any given week, Sunday through Saturday, Weihe’s officers run close to 50 tours, which equals 3,000 station checks per week. The new PowerCheck 3002 system can hold up to 8,000 transactions before it must be downloaded.
It didn’t take long for Weihe’s contract security officers to appreciate the PowerCheck 3002.
“They like the fact that the holster used to hold the recorder has got a clip or an arm-band, offering more options for comfort. The recorders are lighter. The key stations are smaller, and the officers are able to record temperatures of coolers, freezers, and other equipment right into the recorder,” Weihe admitted.
In fact, Weihe’s Morse Watchman system has increased the efficiency of the company’s maintenance staff. The maintenance incident report Weihe downloads from the system is essentially a work order, providing details of problems.
The system’s ability to record a myriad of incidents helps in other unanticipated ways, such as when contract cleaners don’t put wet floor signs down after mopping up. Weihe expects his officers to record such data, as well as put down a floor sign. If someone complains they have fallen because of a wet floor, Weihe has hard data to prove who is actually responsible.
The biggest result of the Morse Watchman system, though, is to help Weihe make sure his contract security officers are on the job, where they should be, when they should be.
The effect, Weihe feels, has been to help keep security incidents to a minimum at TRICON Global, because the system helps ensure a security presence that, while not predictable, is predictably strong. Weihe sets a schedule for his officers so those tour patterns are not created.
All in all, Weihe is pleased with the Morse Watchman system, and its reliability. His two recorders are used 24/7 by a variety of contract personnel.
Weihe said the system’s handheld recorders have proven to be durable. “They have to be severely knocked around to crack the LCD display,” Weihe told. In the past, when a recorder was damaged, Morse Watchman loaned him a free spare, shipped overnight, until his unit had been repaired.
Weihe fits the definition of a satisfied customer. He bought a Morse guard tour system, used it for seven years, then upgraded this year. He’s found the company to be supportive at every turn. “I can say that it has always been extremely pleasant,” Weihe voiced of his communications with Morse Watchman.
As for the system itself, Weihe announced, “I haven’t seen one that could beat it, so until I hear even remotely of something, it’s going to be Morse Watchman products.”