Video Helps Greenhouse Flourish

Integrator ESS upgrades Metrolina Greenhouses’ confounding video surveillance system, enabling the business to become both safer and more efficient throughout its 160-acre campus. The unique venue and unconventional application make for an intriguing project.

While “going green” is all the rage, one security systems integrator has taken it quite literally. Enterprise Security Systems (ESS) provided a video surveillance solution that is not only helping safeguard Metrolina Greenhouses — America’s largest heated single-site facility of its kind — but also improving the giant complex’s operational efficiencies.

“Security surveillance is very important to have in a facility this large,” says Adam Freeman, the client’s network administrator. “With over 160 acres of greenhouses, having a DVR security platform gives us eyes in many places 24/7. Monitoring areas such as chemical storage and water pumping is very important.”

Located just north of Charlotte, N.C., the busy wholesale plant and services company employs 725 people and ships more than 100 trailer loads of product daily during peak season. The greenhouse’s intense pace necessitated swift action when it became disenchanted with the existing surveillance system and security contractor. That’s when the business turned to ESS.

“They contacted us by referral from one of our existing customers,” says ESS President Kurt Kottkamp. “They had a legacy video system and recognized it could be a resource for them, but it wasn’t being used to its full capability and was an older system that had technical limitations.”

After stepping in to service and maintain the existing system, in short order the integrator cultivated a solid relationship and bond of trust that would pave the way for a long-term partnership with Metrolina.

“We initially started ESS out with smaller projects such as camera additions, replacing existing cameras and camera maintenance,” says Freeman. “I was quite happy with their performance so we continued with them.”

ESS subsequently upgraded the client’s analog CCTV system to a hybrid DVR, and added IP cameras, megapixel cameras and wireless connectivity. In addition to its anti-theft and crime deterrence purposes, the solution allows the greenhouse to keep an eye on its people and assure smooth operations throughout the sprawling, highly automated plant.

Opportunity Sprouts Up

Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2011, ESS is a comprehensive systems integrator supplying card access, CCTV, ID badging, emergency communication, intrusion and fire systems to commercial, industrial and institutional clients. A member of PSA Security Network, ESS has more than 1,000 installed accounts. Its primary vertical markets are property management, manufacturing/industrial, financial, health care, education and government. Despite that variety, the Metrolina project took ESS outside its typical breadth.

“It’s a totally unique installation as greenhouses are certainly not a vertical market we have targeted,” says Kottkamp. “However, because of their size, automation and the types of problems they are trying to prevent or mitigate, there are a number of similarities to our core business and customers.”

Launched in 1972, family-owned Metrolina Greenhouses is one of the most automated greenhouses in the United States with several internally designed machines such as automatic plant transplanters and mechanical shipping belts. Its 160 acres of greenhouses is augmented by 30 acres of outdoor growing space.

Happening upon the operation after rounding a bend on Huntersville Concord Road feels like an encounter with something otherworldly. And indeed the mammoth glass-encased development — which continues to be expanded — is said to be visible from space.

Metrolina ships goods to big-box retailers, mass merchandisers, home improvement chains, grocery chains, and other greenhouses within a 400-mile radius. The facility uses up to 700,000 gallons of water each day, recycled by collecting 3 million gallons for every inch of rain that falls on its glass rooftops.

Such attention to operational efficiencies positioned greenhouse management as a prime candidate to fully embrace the many benefits networked video surveillance can bring.

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About the Author


Scott Goldfine is the marketing director for Elite Interactive Solutions. He is the former editor-in-chief and associate publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He can be reached at [email protected].

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