Video System Fills Food Distributor’s Appetite for Safety
Security provider Imperial Surveillance upgraded Midwest Foods dated analog system.
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The bustling Midwest Foods warehouse and distribution center in Chicago’s South Side has supplied some of the area’s leading hotels and restaurants with specialty produce for more than a decade. It recently spent some of its own lettuce on a new video system to ensure its burnished reputation stays as such for decades more.
Whether it’s organic and locally farmed, or conventionally grown and air freighted from around the world, the family-owned business has earned a reputation in the market for adhering to strict guidelines that ensure its products are void of biological and physical hazards.
Helping meet the security and operational needs at the 70,000-square-foot facility is a new video surveillance system implemented by local installing security contractor, Imperial Surveillance. Working together with the end user’s IT manager, the surveillance specialist supplied a hybrid solution using networked recording equipment and IP dome cameras.
Find out what new capabilities and benefits have management singing the praises of its new video system, plus details of the project’s unique installation challenges. Hint: Claustrophobics need not apply.
Hybrid System Provides IP Capability, Scalability
Dan Tingle is the aforementioned IT chief who is responsible for Midwest Foods‘ video surveillance endeavors. A couple years ago the facility’s outmoded, PC-based analog system really began to show its age. Legacy cameras were dying off. The PC ran on Windows XP, so drivers for its video cards were no longer support-ed. A system upgrade would become all but a done deal after the computer finally crashed. But first, a last-ditch effort.
“I went out and bought a new motherboard, CPU, RAM, all of it. I rebuilt the computer myself,” Tingle explains. “It worked but it was still running XP. There was no room for any expansion.”
Increasing the video coverage throughout the facility and grounds was greatly desired by ownership. The site consists of a series of partitioned cooler freezers and control rooms with three temperature zones and one humidity zone. There are loading and receiving docks. There is front office space, a purchasing department, lunch room, employee wash room, changing room and sizable parking lots.
Cost-conscious and wanting to continue using functional legacy cameras where possible, ownership ruled out a rip ‘n’ replace approach. Regardless, a full IP-based system wasn’t necessary by any stretch. A hybrid system, devised to run on its own network, would still easily provide Midwest Foods coveted video feature sets only possible with digital capability. A foundation to efficiently expand the system could also be established with a hybrid solution.
Tingle was given the greenlight to snuff out reoccurring video-system inadequacies. “If something went wrong in the warehouse and I was asked to bring up the footage, I couldn’t tell you what happened because the image quality of the [legacy camera] was so poor,” he says. “Plus, there were so many blind spots throughout the warehouse that my bosses wanted more and better cameras.”
Domenic DiPietra, a security consultant with Imperial Surveillance, scripted a winning project bid to upgrade the legacy DVR. His design called for assimilating existing analog cameras with Hikvision digital equipment. The manufacturer’s 9016 embedded NVR with dual gigabit network interfaces and the 7608 embedded NVR with built-in PoE switching provided the backbone to populate key areas of Midwest Foods with high-def cameras. The chosen model: the three-megapixel EXIR Turret network camera with long-range infrared and three-axis lens adjustment.
DiPietra’s previous experience with the EXIR Turret network camera made it an easy choice for Midwest Foods and its temperature-controlled coolers. The sealed dome prevents moist air from compromising the lens and video images. “There is no glare back from the IR, which is huge. A lot of times you get that issue, especially in moisture-related areas,” DPietra says.
The communications capabilities between the cameras and the NVRs are impressive, DPietra says, especially when working with a hybrid system. The cameras are connected in plug-and-play fashion with the recording device’s IP addressing search tool. “Typically you would have to use a separate computer to search out the IP addresses of the cameras, where this  NVR has a search tool built in. It works really well,” he says.
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