Case Study

SECOM’s Virtual Guard Secures Metal Merchant

Metal Merchant Protects Its Site With SECOM’s External Virtual Guard System

Security is an increasingly vital priority for many businesses. However, the type of security required can vary greatly according to the different sites or assets that need protecting. One company that recently reviewed its needs for an effective solution, a well-established metal merchant, based in the West Midlands.

The metal merchant is a successful waste recycling business that specialises in the processing and distribution of ferrous and non-ferrous metals and alloys. The company supplies significant quantities of high quality materials to locations throughout the UK. It operates from a complex that includes a large yard, where a lot of equipment is stored, the main office building and a storage facility. The complex is protected by an entry gate.

A review of security

A representative from the company reports: “We experienced a couple of break-ins recently, which made us review our arrangements. We obviously wanted to reduce the risk of any potential future break-ins by increasing the security of the property. After careful consideration, we decided that the best solution would be a CCTV security system that could be linked to a 24/7 control centre to ensure that our depot would be monitored out of hours.”

The metal merchant made enquiries, and security specialist company SECOM was recommended to them by a nearby business. SECOM has been providing leading security and fire safety solutions for over 100 years.
The SECOM Group has over 53,000 employees in some 2,800 locations worldwide, with operations in 12 countries.

A new level of protection

One of SECOM’s recent innovations is its External Virtual Guard system. This uses CCTV cameras to proactively detect suspicious events at the perimeter of a site before a criminal has the chance to break in. It’s a fully monitored solution that is able to protect the metal merchant’s complex. The system can provide rapid alerts and record and deter intruders who are trying to get into the site outside normal business hours. This will stop them before they can reach any of the buildings or equipment within the complex.

Any event is recorded and sent to the operator, giving a clear and immediate understanding of what caused the activation. This enables the operator to make decisions much more rapidly, and with a greater level of confidence. It can provide crucial time savings when evaluating an incident and deciding upon what – if any – suitable escalation is required. The operator can also text the video to the customer so that they can also make a decision about the alert.

Matthew Bradley, SECOM’s Field Sales Manager, explains: “Virtual Guard enables us to store and monitor CCTV at a better price point, using our own in-house integrations and innovative methods. It also allows us to dial into the cameras and speak to a potential intruder through the installed speakers to tell them to move away from the site. We’ve had to do this on a couple of occasions for the metal merchant, and it’s proved to be an effective deterrent.

The main components of the metal merchant’s Virtual Guard system are four strategically placed cameras with detection modules. These communicate with a recorder and transmission unit. That unit in turn communicates via a 4G router to the Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) based at SECOM’s Head Office in the UK, in Kenley, Surrey. The ARC is manned 24 hours a day.

A successful detection system

“The installation went well,” continues Matthew Bradley. “One potential issue that occurred was that there are various cats in the complex – they seem to have made the site their home. The motion detectors look for any movement, and some of the cats were living on a ledge, at the same level at which a person would be detected. So at first they were tripping the detectors and therefore creating false alarms. However, we soon remedied this by moving the position of the detectors to slightly different areas while still providing full coverage of the site without picking up the cats.”

Someone from the company sets the new system via a fob when they leave the complex in the evening and resets it when they return in the morning. Because some of the employees live locally, they can be called if there’s an issue and can get to the site quickly.

The metal merchant particularly liked the ability for SECOM to log into the system and perform diagnostics remotely, rather than having to send out an engineer to the site every time. This solution is connected to SECOM’s IPCCTV support team. Another benefit that the metal merchant enjoys is that SECOM was able to install some remote, battery-powered detectors, as some areas of the site are quite difficult for laying cables.

The Virtual Guard system has been very successful – so much so that SECOM has since installed an intruder alarm detection system in one of the buildings in the complex. A representative from the company comments: “We’ve been very pleased with the system and the level of customer service that SECOM has provided. Both the management of the company and our employees find the system very user-friendly.”


Metal Merchant


Waste Recycling




SECOM Virtual Guard

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