When Omaha, Nebraska-based West Corporation needed to update and standardize a mix of security systems at 31 locations without ripping everything out and starting anew, the company turned to AMAG Technology, Torrence, Calif.
West manages call centers and has locations across the country – nine branch offices and 21 “remote” offices. These existing facilities use a variety of access control cards, some equipped with a mag stripe, others with a bar code, and still others utilizing proximity technology. And because of the nature of their work, many of their facilities have high staff turnover. Thus, they had a need to centrally-control and cost-effectively issue 300 new employee badges daily–about one percent of the company’s 32,000-person workforce.
Reissuing cards would be a major challenge, so they sought an access control solution that could use the existing employee badges. They also needed the ability to network numerous sites across the country and monitor and program all access control from the corporate office in Omaha, while still allowing each location to manage its own database and issue its own cards.
Almost by accident, it discovered AMAG after West moved into a building that was secured by AMAG Technology’s services. An older AMAG system had previously been installed in West’s new Omaha corporate headquarters by Security Equipment, Inc. (SEi) and after seeing AMAG in action, West decided it was right for their needs.
“Not only did we have to be able to read their existing card database from every location, we had to be able to re-utilize all of the existing field devices including the readers themselves,” explained Mr. Hruba, Tom Hruba, SEi’s executive vice president. AMAG’s ability to create custom card formats allowed SEi to accomplish this.
Before converting to AMAG, “West had three separate systems–a Receptors system that utilized bar code readers, a Silent Knight system that utilized magnetic stripe card readers and an AMAG 402 system that utilized proximity readers,” said Mr. Hruba. “It was very important that the (new) system be able to read all of the existing cards as re-badging any part of their employee population was not acceptable. (And) AMAG had to be able to import all of the existing card data and video images for every employee no matter which system.”
West’s security manager, Kenneth M. Lewis, chose an AMAG’s Enterprise unrestricted access control solution for its ability to function on a nationwide WAN system. All West sites were upgraded to the Enterprise server located in Omaha.
Local control with central oversight …
The Network Operations Center (NOC) in Omaha is staffed 24/7, and is where all remote sites are monitored. Each facility has security guards on site during business hours and roaming guards after hours. Alarms from any of the 800 alarm points at the company’s 31 locations all funnel into the NOC, which dispatches security personnel to the location that generated the alarm.
“As each site was upgraded to AMAG, SEi preformed a separate database conversion specifically for that site to help control the amount of information that would have to be entered into both systems during the upgrade,” said Mr. Hruby.
Each West site operates as a separate company and therefore is in control of its own security database, said Mr. Hruby. Each office creates and prints employee badges either through a full administrative client or a web client.
Even though each office badges its own employees and controls its own database, it was important from a corporate standpoint that the badges look the same. That’s why West’s corporate office in Omaha retained master access to all the branch or remote offices.
Explained Mr. Hruby: “With over 30,000 employees, they are very concerned that all of their badges look the same, all the field entries are consistent and they have ultimate control on what is put into their system. All the sites were originally programmed into the system from Omaha so all the terminology would be the same, all the maps would look and feel the same and all of the operator instructions would have the same terminology.”
Different ID technologies for different employee populations
Its corporate office uses a prox card for physical access, while mag stripe cards are used at the company’s other Omaha locations, and bar codes are used at the remote sites. “The production facilities utilize magnetic stripe and bar code cards due to the small cost of these cards…(and) the fair amount of turnover” at these facilities, said Mr. Hruba.
“At approximately 300 (new) badges every day you can imagine the cost savings,” he added. “West Corporate utilizes proximity because typically management staff has a greatly reduced turnover.”
West uses some 325 readers at its 31 locations. Both cards and readers are produced by AMAG. West badges approximately 300 employees a day on average tasking the security system to process thousands of card transactions each day.
West Corporation is constantly growing and adding new offices. “As the company expands, we plan to equip all new sites with the AMAG networked security system,” said Mr. Lewis.
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