Service & Maintenance – A Missing Piece of the Security Puzzle?
When contemplating a new or replacement, physical security system, many requirements spring to mind. The way you want your security system to look, the operational protocol you want the system to follow, and the appropriate security rating; perhaps even how these measures can be integrated with existing systems already in use.
All of these questions are important but, there is one rather substantial piece of the jigsaw missing. Is the security system being considered easy to service and maintain?
Like anything automated, bollards, gates, and road blockers require periodic servicing and maintenance routines to guarantee performance and reduce downtime. Products can be built and designed to last with serviceability in mind or they can be engineered without much thought to the after-sale lifespan.
Why is Service & Maintenance of Security Equipment Often Forgotten?
With so many things to consider when contemplating the purchase of security systems, the serviceability of products can easily be forgotten during the specification process.
With architects and security consultants focussing on achieving the correct aesthetics without compromising on the security rating, it is often left to the end-user to ensure that serviceability and the longevity of a system are considered. Here are some of the perceived barriers to considering product servicing beyond the initial sale:
Often, getting a budget approved to be able to implement security measures can be a long process. Budgets are commonly agreed on an annual basis and so servicing budgets are not contemplated at the time of investment; they are left until the next budget is released.
2. Return on Investment
Security equipment is already very difficult to assign a return on investment. A little bit like insurance, you only value security equipment once you are exposed to a scenario when the equipment is needed. Evaluating the return on budget assigned to service and maintain equipment is even trickier.
3. Reactive Servicing Versus Proactive Maintenance
Often, when a system is new, there is an assumption that faults and downtime won’t be an issue for a good few years into a system’s life cycle. Because of this, proactive service contracts are not chosen, and instead, end users opt for reactive maintenance should a fault occur.
This is a significant false economy. When an automatic system is first commissioned, as with anything new, errors can occur.
Firstly, operator error; with any new system or operating methodology, there will be teething problems. Some errors if repeated will shift the system into fault which is a way of the security system safeguarding the area against what is perceived as a possible security breach.
Secondly, user errors may occur; while the public and various stakeholders get used to new systems, there will also be a bedding-in period where users might not understand access procedures and might try to tailgate through the system or ignore the traffic light signals to gain entry to the secured area. This will have the same effect as operator error, the system will go into fault as a default security mechanism, or worst-case scenario, a user may even hit the post in trying to ‘cheat’ the system.
To ensure that the system is reset effectively, trained service engineers will need to attend the site and review the fault before resetting. This will eliminate downtime and ensure that customers have the ongoing support of a security partner to help with any of these teething issues.
4. Trying to Create Cost Efficiencies
If a site already has a facility management company in contract, it is often the case that the customer decides to include the new security system within the remit of the facility management contract rather than choosing to take out a separate contract with the equipment manufacturer.
This can work if the right process is set up initially. Where this does not work is when the facility management company charges the customer for the additional equipment within the existing contract and does not engage in any proactive maintenance of the system.
Third-party service providers will not have access to any IP-related information, including details of software information, schematic drawings, design calculations, and the specification of spare parts.
This could affect the level of service that can be provided by a third-party or, mean that the third-party have to sub-contract maintenance and servicing to the equipment manufacturer increasing the contract cost.
The whole point of establishing a service level on security systems is to reduce downtime, run through proactive maintenance procedures and ensure that the system has the longest possible lifespan.
5. Warranty Cover
All new systems are sold with a manufacturer’s warranty, typically – 12 months. This warranty covers any equipment faults or failures within the first 12 months and may provide customers with enough peace of mind to not consider a service contract at this point.
A warranty does not however provide customers with any form of service level agreement (SLA), it also does not cover any system damage because of a user or operator error.
The warranty is also not valid for the full 2-month period if routine service is not scheduled for the systems after 6 months of use.
Proactively taking out some form of a service contract at the point of order or installation means that customers will have a specific SLA in place with the security provider and will also have an annual service included within this agreement.
The Key Benefits of Proactive Service & Maintenance of Security Equipment
So after what can be a fairly substantial initial financial outlay to purchase and implement security systems, why is it so important to ensure that the correct maintenance and servicing procedures are put into place?
1. Get more out of the lifespan of your system
Firstly, the ability to be able to realise the full lifecycle of your security system. Automatic systems, if maintained correctly can last up to 15-20 years. This maximizes the initial investment and reduces the possibility of having to reinvest in a new system before the product reaches its life cycle potential.
2. Reduce downtime
Downtime significantly affects a security scheme, and this is never spoken about at point of specification and pre-sale. What is the point of investing time and money into an ‘all singing and dancing’ security system to address your site’s vulnerabilities if the system is only active and working 50% of the time?
Proactive servicing ensures that product downtime is kept to an absolute minimum.
It also allows security managers to plan any necessary downtime while the system is being serviced. It could be completed out of hours or servicing could be staggered to ensure that one entrance and exit is open at all times to an area or infrastructure to eliminate disruption.
If downtime is unplanned, without the right protocols in place, any system downtime could create vulnerabilities and disruption for the site being protected.
3. It’s more cost-effective
Cost efficiencies can be created by implementing a proactive servicing regime.
A little bit like servicing and maintaining cars, if the approach you take is proactive, the maintenance bill, in the long run, will be lower.
If components need to be changed or upgraded within the system after so many cycles or years, this again can be planned for, so all costs are rolled into one annual bill rather than receiving unexpected requirements for expenditure.
An example of these costs can be seen below:
4. Working with the manufacturer brings its own benefits
Working with an experienced security equipment manufacturer over the course of the product’s life cycle can be of huge benefit.
If the company engineered and designed the equipment in the first place, they understand better than anyone the nuances of a system and how to best achieve the maximum possible life cycle.
If any changes of use, requirement, or threat happen during the life cycle, the client can work with the supplier to upgrade measures. They can also retrofit new technology as and when it is developed and plan for any new systems required.
This means that the financial outlay is not in one lump as it would be initially when not engaged with a security specialist. All of this can smooth the process of upgrading security equipment and financial outlay can be managed directly with the long-term supplier.
5. Product training for staff
Training can be provided for operating staff to ensure that user error is designed out through knowledge sharing. Applicable both at the start when a new system is installed and during the product’s lifecycle should any new members of staff join, or any training refreshers be needed. This also contributes to ensuring that security equipment life cycles are realised in full.
6. Peace of mind
Providing peace of mind is a huge benefit of a proactive service contract. Knowing that you have a supplier relationship in place to cover any eventuality should a fault occur, or a security breach happens is priceless. The amount of disruption that a faulty or intermittent system causes a business is extensive. To eliminate this potential headache by ensuring a service contract is in place is essential.
Continuing the provision of ‘peace-of-mind’, in the unlikely event of an incident such as a security breach, an accidental vehicle collision, or criminal activity, as part of a service contract, technical support on all insurance claims is provided.
Most importantly, the very reason security measures are put into place is to ensure the safety and security of an area and the people within it. Proactive servicing ensures continued safety and security and that no vulnerabilities are created by faulty equipment.