Guest Post

Quick Tips for Making Your Warehouse More Secure

November 19, 2018

Written by guest contributor Megan Ray Nichols, a freelance stem writer and the editor of Schooled By Science. For more from Megan, you can follow her on Twitter or subscribe to her blog here

Managing a warehouse requires attention to enough matters already without security tripping you up. Whether it’s leading the movement of personnel and equipment more thoughtfully, or just hardening your perimeter against potential intruders, here’s a quick rundown of five tips you can deploy today to make sure your warehouse is as secure as you can make it.

1. Consider Wi-Fi Cameras and Fencing at Your Perimeter

Residential and commercial security solutions have come a long way in a few years. Today, it’s possible to purchase a comprehensive security system for the entire perimeter of your warehouse, truck yard and loading dock without installing huge runs of expensive cable. Provided you’ve got access to power, Wi-Fi cameras allow remote surveillance of each area under your management, plus automatic backup of footage in a lot of cases.

This isn’t the only change you can make at your perimeter, either. It might make sense to complement your new wireless security system with a perimeter fence, too. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be the most physically imposing barricade. In a lot of cases, merely the presence of an outer physical barrier is enough to deter would-be thieves.

2. Bring Technology Aboard to Count Inventory Automatically

The modern warehouse manager should always be on the lookout for ways to reduce the number of times an incoming or outgoing product requires a change of custody or additional handling by another employee. It’s not just a matter of efficiency, either — rework and duplicated effort also create opportunities for employees to get “ideas” and for merchandise to “go missing.”

Warehouse facilities today have lots of different WMS tools — warehouse management systems — at their disposal. Some of them, like RFID and even Bluetooth, allow entire shipments to be scanned in at once at the item level. This facilitates faster stowing in your facility, but it also means employees might not need to open shipment cartons and case packs for visual review. That means fewer opportunities for sticky fingers and deep pockets.

3. Take Another Look at Your Entrances and Exits

We understand: In some cases, warehouses and distribution centers can go a long time in between basic facility maintenance and retrofits. Just know this excuse won’t be so convincing if criminals manage to pry open one of the doors on your loading dock — or find the locks on other entry doors easy pickings.

Even one loose panel on a sectional facility door can give would-be thieves a way into your building. Instead of leaving maintenance concerns unaddressed, it’s best to reduce the risk of the theft by performing one of the most basic — but also most rewarding, ROI-wise — upgrades you can make to your facility. A new door doesn’t just improve curb appeal and confidence —  a new door signals that you take security seriously.

4. Commit to Regular, Offsite Backups of Business Data

We’ve mostly remained focused on physical security measures for your warehouse, but that doesn’t mean we wanted to leave cybersecurity entirely out of the equation. There are areas of overlap between the two you’ll want to address while you’re upgrading your facility for security.

If your business is like most, data is your bread and butter. Operational data tells you, sometimes in real time, how product throughput is going and whether you’re on track to meet sales numbers and shipment quotas. But what about even more sensitive data like client contact information and records, intellectual property or employee tax documents?

The presence of all this classified and sensitive information is an “attractive nuisance” if you leave it on your property. An unsecured employee computer could spell disaster for your privacy and your trade secrets. But backups constitute a physical risk, too. In the event of a fire or simple theft or vandalism, even your backups could be at risk.

You have lots of third-party options to choose from for data backup and recovery — so there’s no real reason to make do with a cobbled-together, onsite backup. Doing so doubles your risk of data theft: once from the business machine being backed up and again from the backups themselves.

5. Issue New, RFID-Enabled Entry Badges

We discussed RFID as a way to speed up the process of checking in incoming freight. But it also represents a change you can make to the security perimeter of your facility that delivers major peace of mind.

In many kinds of facilities today, RFID-equipped identification badges have become the new normal. Sensors at each authorized entrance register and identify each employee as they enter with just a swipe of their badge. There’s no code to remember, which makes it a convenient process for them.

You can use RFID badges to keep track of high-value equipment and other assets, too — or even use the two in tandem and require employees to scan their badges as they scan out material for use in the facility. In both applications, the smart deployment of RFID in asset and personnel management provides you with a wealth of useful data about who’s coming and going, as well as who’s using your equipment and when.

The future will likely deliver even more advanced security solutions for warehouse facilities. There are also whispers of replacing RFID badges with implantable chips — although employers should expect some pushback from something like that. The point is, as a facility manager, hopefully now you have ideas for dealing with some of the potential security blindspots under your roof. 

A big thanks to Megan Ray Nichols for contributing this guest post!


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