Icon Security Systems Installs ICT Protege GX for Trustpower

Clearfix
JohnA's picture
Trustpower HQ, Tauranga, NZ
Trustpower HQ, Tauranga, NZ

NZ integrator Icon Security Systems has installed an ICT ProtegeGX access control and intrusion detection system at the new head office of Trustpower in Tauranga, NZ. 

RAPID expansion over 2 years saw energy provider Trustpower outgrow its former head office at Te Maunga in Tauranga, New Zealand. This growth and the decision to move to an activity-based working model for staff, which Trustpower calls ‘Synergy New Ways of Working’, saw more than 500 staff move to a new purpose-built facility on Durham Street in the Tauranga CBD.

The new building was a collaboration by Veldhoen + Company, and Warren & Mahoney, with the striking interior designed by Warren & Mahoney and the building handled by Wingate & Farquhar. Now completed, Trustpower’s new HQ houses a 24/7 control centre for Trustpower’s generation facilities, which include 38 New Zealand and 3 Australian hydro facilities, 2 New Zealand and 3 Australian wind farms, and a small diesel generation array near Marsden Point supporting Northland and the top end of New Zealand. Also located at the new building are customer service, generation support, IT, finance, marketing and community relations teams. 

It’s a beautiful and forward-thinking building design, which facilitates resource-sharing, as well as enervating the Trustpower team. And it goes without saying that even in an open environment, security is still a core functionality. When it comes to access control, a key element aspect of the new facility is Trustpower’s implementation of Synergy New Ways of Working, which amounts to global hot desking in an open environment which incorporates multiple shared resources. 

Operationally, this means no staff member has their own desk and every staff member needs their own access-controlled locker. There’s more. To conform with aesthetics and control costs, lockers can’t be hardwired, yet it’s vital that these lockers, their users and the events associated with their use, be integrated into an over-arching electronic security management solution. 

The Trustpower security system was installed by integrator, Icon Security Systems. Icon’s MD, Damon Hill, has an electrical background onto which have been layered decades of real world security integrations in all shapes and sizes. Combined with an unassuming frankness of character, the prism of Hill’s experience generates a very particular clarity of view. For Hill, simplicity of integration and ease of operation are the vital aspects of any solution. And when it comes to functionality, Hill puts his finger squarely onto capabilities offering serious operational advantage.  


Damon Hill, Icon Security Systems

“Central to the system is that a significant proportion of the Trustpower team is travelling at any given moment so the concept of hot-desking works very well for them,” Hill says. “But the challenge of having no dedicated workspace is that staff need somewhere to secure their belongings when they are away – they need to have a secure locker. This made a relatively compact system much larger in terms of numbers of doors and potentially harder to manage.” 

The finished solution includes around 50 access-controlled doors, 537 access-controlled lockers, around 50 alarm inputs and 27 cameras, all of which were installed and commissioned before the building opened. There’s also a carpark with roller grilles connected to the access control system and a separate intercom system. The overall system is managed using GX software by the Trustpower IT service department and being familiar with IT solutions, Hill says they handle the system very well. 

The Trustpower Solution

The heart of the system is ICT’s ProtegeGX solution, which is built around modular and robust DIN-rail hardware fronted by an intuitive and flexible software solution. It’s a nice combination. ProtegeGX features customisable alarm and event filters allowing sorting and categorisation of event and alarm data. ICT’s open automation and control protocol allows third-party developers to create custom integrations that communicate directly with the ProtegeGX controller – end users like this capability. Among other things, ProtegeGX does photo ID, time and attendance, visitor management, email on event and has flexible licensing packs with capping. 


ICT ProtegeGX controller

The system features floor plans with icons that allow one-click arming and disarming of areas, as well as control of inputs and outputs, and holistic status views. Event filters and alarms allow users to jump to a floorplan based on an alarm condition or trigger. There are fully customizable status pages that allow flexible designs showing content relevant to your site, for a site-wide overview or allowing you to drill down to show more detail. Reporting generation is great strength, with user reports, muster reports, event reports and attendance reports allowing single-click snapshots of system status. 

According to Hill, the reason ProtegeGX was chosen for the new building was that having upgraded to ProtegeGX some years before Trustpower had been pleased with the reliability and functionality of its system and wanted to stick with a proven performer. 

“Around 5 years earlier we had replaced Trustpower’s old and unreliable system with ProtegeGX and when the HO building contract came along, the company decided to stick with the solution that had gone so well,” says Hill. “From an Icon perspective, we were one of ICT’s first customers, which we often say was very lucky for them. 

“You don’t go looking for a major product change if everything is going well with the solution you are using but a guy I know invited me to come to an ICT course when I was unhappy with a product. We had a specific job that needed a particular Pinprox format and the system we used at that time could not do what we needed it to do. I said to Hayden Burr: “I’ll use your solution if you can tell us how to do make Pinprox work”. Hayden said: “We’ll do this, this, and this”. And it worked. We were quite receptive from that point onwards.”  


Some of Trustpower's GX-integrated lockers

Alongside the proven ProtogeGX platform, something else was needed to handle more than 500 battery-powered lockers in a secure and integrated GX environment. 

“We chose Salto XS4 as locking solution for the access controlled lockers because it integrates best with GX and it’s very simple to program a locker in the GX software,” Hills says. “For instance, within the software there’s an option called ‘Add a Salto Door’. You click on it, give the door a name, and that’s the end, job done. GX then writes the door to the Salto software in the background which resides on the same access control server as GX software.” 

Hill says the lockers are managed through GX, too. 

“Within GX software there are 537 lockers that are automatically written to adjacent Salto software in the server,” Hills explains. “Set up like this, assigning Salto lockers to GX cardholders is very simple. In GX software you just drag an existing locker and drop it onto an existing cardholder and you’re are done. An automatic email is generated by the system telling the staff member something like: “We’ve programmed your card, you have locker number 6, badge at an update reader today and your locker will be commissioned for you”. When cardholders go by a network connected Salto update reader, they badge their card and they’ve been assigned the locker number dragged and dropped onto their file in GX software.” 

“Because Salto update readers are connected over a network to the access control server, this allows cards to upload their on-card data to the GX management software in background. Simply, Salto software and GX software both have an instance in the same SQL database on the same server so whatever changes you make to one apply to both. What this means as an integrator is that you do all your build within the GX software, which populates all the doors and everything else in the backend where it also applies to Salto.” 

According to Hill, other product combinations don’t have the ability to work like this.

“With other systems you would have to go into the Salto software directly, create the 537 lockers and if you lost the Salto database for whatever reason this lengthy process would have to be replicated,” he says. “The simplicity and effectiveness of the integration was something Trustpower liked about ProtegeGX.” 

Another advantage of Salto in this application is that there is no cabling to the lockers.

“A considerable reduction of cabling was part of the beauty of the system design,” Hill says. “The building is open plan with a multi-level atrium. There are no suspended ceilings or cable trays so you can’t run any more cables – all the very limited available space is packed with fire proofing, particularly on the upper floors.” 


Stern view of Salto XS4

Hill says that the same credential is used with the access control system and the lockers – Mifare 13.56MHz. 

“There’s a card encoder on the IT support desk and when staff need to program someone a card they can do program into ICT and Salto at the same time,” he says. “They don’t need to know what’s going on in the back end – operationally it just works. It’s very good. I was pleased at how well it all came together. We’ve had no breakdowns, either.” 

The alarm component of the system is relatively small for a site this size, given the open plan space and the fact there’s a 24-hour operations centre on site. Enhancing monitoring and event management are floorplans within GX.

“Alarm sensors are represented as icons in the floorplan at HQ and events are reported to the software and the monitoring station indicating the exact sensor activated – this means staff on site in the operations centre can see exactly what’s going on in the event of an alarm. There’s also a remote client with ProtegeGX which can be access remotely by authorised Trustpower staff if necessary.” 

Alongside the intrusion detection and access control components of the solution, there’s also a Geutebruck CCTV solution with NVR storage supporting 27 cameras that is integrated with ProtegeGX. When Trustpower upgrades its system to V4 of the software, they’ll be able to employ number plate recognition.

Challenges of the application

You’d expect such an iconic site to be fraught with challenge but for a number of reasons, the process was simpler than it could have been. According to Hill, the Trustpower site was an existing building that was gutted then rebuilt. Being essentially a greenfield site, undertaking the installation before the building opened was relatively easy. 

“We had 4 techs involved with the job for about 6 months and we came in with all the other contractors and installed the electronic security solution as the build progressed,” Hill says. “From the point of view of the network, the Trustpower building has a Cat6 backbone and there are separate admin and generation networks. The security system runs on a separate VLAN within the building network."

 

“Probably the biggest challenge was the Salto integration due to the type of authentication which I was unfamiliar with.” Hill explains. “At the time, the rest of the team was busy with the installation and I was sitting there all by myself trying to nut the integration out when Ross from Trustpower offered to help. Once sorted with help from Ross, I was confident that the integration was perfect in theory but putting an integration into practice is another thing. In the end, it was a piece of cake. 

“Other than the integration of Salto and GX, the application was straightforward. Although there are more than 500 of them, generally speaking, the lockers were an easy part of the job for techs. They were supplied and fitted ready to have locks installed and there are 3 screws required to mount a Salto XS4 lock. You then you walk along with the programmer once and push a button and you’re done.” 

Something noteworthy is that there’s only one ProtegeGX controller in the Trustpower building. 

“This site is not so decentralised structurally as to disallow a single cabinet so we used just one,” Hill says. “We also chose to use Weigand rather than RS-485 cabling – we needed a third leg in the access control LAN in order to get to reception - Weigand gave us this option. Everyone likes RS-485 for extra distance and GX has the capability to support this but I find Weigand gives us more options and is well-suited to relatively compact sites like this one.” 

What were the strengths of the GX for this application?

“Strengths of GX for us included the integration the system offers and the ease of use for Trustpower’s IT service department,” Hill says. “For many end user staff a system’s ease of use is most important. An important element of this was that the software in the new building was deliberately set up to have the same layout as the team was used to managing in the old site – to that end, the integration with Salto is invisible. If they need to add a locker, admin staff simply pull the locker across to the user in GX software and the change is global. As well as the background integration with Salto, the additional functionality of the latest GX system is not visible to the end user – they manage the new system just as they always have done.” 

Conclusion

“I think the core of this application is GX software,” Hill explains. “When I first got to know the ICT product the industry was on the cusp of TCP/IP and since then, the ICT team has picked up networking extremely well. GX scales strongly at the enterprise level thanks to improvements to software. A real strength is that drag and drop assignment of doors to users, as well as user reports, attendance reports, muster reports, event reports and more. In large systems with poor naming conventions it's quite easy to get lost in reporting functions but with GX the reports are very powerful and intuitive - you can just request a report with a single click.

“Another strength has always been the ability to integrate with other products. We’ve only integrated with Salto and Geutebruck so far but speaking with a major telco recently it was a key advantage they raised. We also get a pretty good level of support and that’s a real benefit. Being an experienced integrator if we have an issue, it’s a genuine issue. We can ring people of influence and knowledge at ICT and get immediate help.”

Trustpower’s HQ is a nice electronic security project – a lovely building and a capable electronic security solution with a simple yet very functional piece of integration at its heart. 

“We don’t get many projects like this in Tauranga – it’s a town of about 110,000 people – so it was great to be part of a project like the Trustpower HQ, says Hill. “The solution itself, while straightforward, rewarded careful thought during the design phase. From an integrator’s point of view, as an architecturally designed building with a great atmosphere it was just a very nice place to be. 

“I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Trustpower team we worked with, CBC Construction and Warren & Mahoney who made it look bloody fantastic and Kevin Marsh from Property and Project Consulting Ltd.” ♦

By John Adams