Hills Distribution Centre - more than just a pretty space

AS well as being impressive in its own right, Hills Distribution Centre incorporates an integrated electronic security solution made up of the company’s best products – Genetec, Axis Communications, Challenger10 and the TecomC4 security management solution.

WHEN Hills decided to bring its distribution centre back in house after several years of outsourcing, the company needed a seriously large facility to handle the backend load. It’s easy to forget just what a big unit Hills is – the company turns over millions of dollars of stock every week from its new 11,000sqm distribution centre – and stock held in the facility is worth many millions more.

John Hamill, head of services, Hills

The solution covers more than a warehouse. The distribution centre at Seven Hills includes demonstration space, office space, network infrastructure and the company’s technical help team. As the team thought around the possibilities, the concept grew from a single location into an enterprise application. There are now 7 sites connected to the overall system. On the access control side there are around 100 doors and a database of more than 600 users.

A combination of size and the value of infrastructure and assets at the distribution centre meant Hills needed to think about its own security solution – during this process the team decided it wouldn’t just install a basic system but would create an integrated solution that meshed its leading systems not only for security but for another very specific purpose. According to John Hamill, head of services at Hills, demonstrating the capability of its best products was a key part of the equation.

“What we’ve done is put all our own products together to make an integrated electronic security solution that serves this facility but is also available to all our other offices across the country as a demonstration site,” Hamill explains. “As well as coming and looking at the application in the demonstration centre, the national sales team can also access cameras on mobile devices to demonstrate the system’s remote management capability.

“The integration here is evolving – it’s only going to become more capable in the future – it’s very exciting. We are counting parking spaces with Genetec AutoVu automated license plate recognition using Genetec Security Center and we have installed TecomC4, which integrates our Challenger10 alarm and access control systems. There are various cameras from our brands, including Axis Communications internal and external camera ranges – we want to show all the key functionalities of product offering so installers and end users can see them working together on a live site.

“Genetec is managing the entire video surveillance solution, while TecomC4 is handling this site, as well as managing alarms, access control and automation for all our branches nationwide as an enterprise application – exciting, too, we have a great new integration coming out that allows Genetec to integrate with Challenger10 and as soon as it is completed, we will be running that here as well.”

Walking the site

Having seen almost all the big warehouses in the Australian electronic security industry, it’s possible to say that the Hills distribution centre is by far the largest. Having additional administrative and sales functions based at the site makes it more complicated still.

“The site is physically very large internally and externally,” says Hamill. “The size was a challenge – we needed to deploy fibre throughout. It’s worth pointing out that when we started this was a shell – everything you see here we did ourselves. We handled the design inhouse. Integrator JD Security handled the installation of cabling, as well as taking care of part of the fit-off of devices – other parts of the installation were handled by Hills’ own technical team, which gave them valuable insight into the challenges of integrating systems in sites like this.”

“We have around 50 cameras, mainly Axis, covering every entry and exit point – we have automated license plate recognition cameras covering the carpark entry, so we can see who has been here. CCTV is fully integrated into our access control solution – there are 8 roller doors in the warehouse alone and there are many more entry and fire doors across the site.”

Taking the site in, there are plenty of cameras – some installed high up inside the warehouse and others outside the warehouse where pallets of stock are loaded onto heavy transport – the complexity of the site meant the Hills techs could really let their hair down when it came to camera choice – I see internal and external domes and bullets, as well as many internal cameras in the office areas. Impressive, too, are the Genetec AutoVu cameras that handle automated license plate recognition at the entry/exit gates.

Something noteworthy in the Hills Distribution Centre is that there are elevated cable trays that allowed techs to move cables in an organised wat and the industrial internal landscape – a lot of steel girders – means it’s possible to surface mount here more easily that would be the case in some other applications. Hamill points out that some internal structures are portable – they can be lifted and moved around the site if required.

“The fibre network across the site links switches to which all our PoE cameras are connected via Cat 6 cable,” explains Hamill. “On a site this size, fibre is an ideal choice.”

There were some challenges when it came to the installation – the height of internal walls and external covered areas being considerations.

“A particular challenge of working at the site for JD Security in the lead up to our opening was the heat – adding to this from the JD Security perspective, the site was a work in progress – parts were operational while the electronic security solution was being installed. A distribution centre is a busy place – there’s stock moving almost all the time – this can pose system design issues as well. For instance, we have dual technology curtain sensors installed but after installation we had to move some they were being blocked by stock movements.”

When it comes to the access control system, the design called for zoning, so office staff are only able to access to office areas and warehouse staff can only access to the warehouse. There’s also selected access to areas like the server room.

According to John Richardson, product sales specialist CCTV, the system offers excellent demonstration capabilities, as well as being a solid security platform.


John Richardson, product sales specialist CCTV

“We basically used the best of everything we had – the best management solutions and the best cameras,” he explains. “The idea is that visitors will be able to see all our solutions working together in a way they may not be able to see them elsewhere – the sales team can also access the system from any connected location. It’s not only video surveillance – the automatic gates allowing access to heavy vehicles are access controlled as well – it’s a complete solution and it will be enhanced in the future.”

Products Integrated at Hills

Products that have been integrated at Hills Distribution Centre include Challenger10 and the TecomC4 management solution, Genetec Security Centre, Genetec AutoVu automated license plate recognition cameras and a wide range of Axis Communications internal and external cameras. These systems combine to create a powerful solution.

The Challenger10 access control and security control panel is a modular system which can be scaled for almost any application, from small to large commercial installations. With thousands of programmable options, integrated networking and 99 areas, Challenger10 can be partitioned with no loss of performance, whether you are using one or all 99 areas, thanks to a 32-bit microprocessor.

Each Challenger10 panel stores 10,000 events, is programmable via LCD keypad arming stations or via Interlogix security management software, arming and disarming can be automated to occur at particular times, days and/or when particular events occur in a system, while defined holidays can span multiple days, and can be repeated annually. Multiple internal areas can be linked to a perimeter area to control your site’s entry/exit procedures.

Meanwhile, the TecomC4 management solution provides a single interface that allows management of all security systems – access control, intrusion and CCTV, whether locally or remote. Operators can drive and manage all their systems from a single interface, no matter the manufacturer, and there are multiple reporting options, too. Behind the scenes is an MS SQL database with Open DataBase connectivity. TecomC4 has a huge list of integration drivers already written, with new drivers able to be written using integrated tools.

Handling video is Genetec Security Center 5.7, the latest version of its open-architecture platform that unifies video surveillance, access control, automatic license plate recognition, communications, and analytics. Security Center 5.7 allows users to make insight-driven decisions based on security and analytics data. This latest version also adds privacy protection for individuals (KiwiVision Privacy Protector module), efficiently distributes HID mobile access control credentials, and ensures business continuity with native access control failover. Security Center 5.7 is available now through the global network of Genetec certified channel partners.

According to Genetec, cyber resilience is about securing communications, authenticating users, and protecting businesses from employees unwittingly allowing vulnerable network-connected devices to threaten the business. To improve overall cybersecurity, Security Center now automatically identifies whether connected edge devices are running the most recent and secure device firmware. Once notified of known vulnerabilities and given firmware recommendations, administrators can take immediate action and eliminate known security gaps.

The Security Center reporting feature intuitively displays data in dynamic charts and graphs, helping organizations gain a deeper understanding of their data, identify trends, and spot undetected patterns. Visualization of physical security data can be employed to quickly isolate security gaps and suspicious activity, identify maintenance issues, find valuable opportunities to improve operations, and ultimately make smarter decisions. The Security Center Web Client allows customers to manage real-time alarms and threat levels, both of which are critical time-sensitive activities.

A neat feature of the Hills Distribution Centre application is the use of Genetec’s AutoVu automated license plate recognition system. In other applications, AutoVu can entirely manage parking in corporate or government applications but at Hills the system is being used to keep an eye on vehicle numbers so that if the 100 available parking spaces are full, staff can assist customers.