STE Innovation Award Bronze Medal: Security System Saves StandardAero

An innovative eEscort solution solved a DHS compliance issue, appeased customer concerns and kept the aircraft repair company open for business

StandardAero continued the process with customer forensics to better understand the customers’ needs and explore various options to satisfy them. By interviewing its customers, the company began to better understand the source of discontent and the underlying issue they had. The issue was not in the quality of escorts provided by StandardAero, rather in the process of physical escorting itself. The overwhelming response was the feeling of distrust the customers felt the company had with them. Some even went so far as to say that they felt like they were in “a prison.”

On top of the distrustful and disrespectful sentiment they felt, customers also saw physical escorting as an inconvenience. It was perceived to cost more and steal manpower away from the aircraft. The process was unproductive and burdensome in their eyes. Each time a customer needed to leave and return to the secured area where the aircraft was stationed — whether it was for a quick restroom visit, lunch break or phone call — he had to wait for an escort, adding to the time it took to perform a simple task.

StandardAero needed a security solution with two goals in mind: It had to be as effective as a physical escort and invisible to its customers. The company reviewed various escort processes to develop a solution that would be equal to the preventative qualities of physical escorting, but would also give their customers a sense of freedom and independence. It also had to ensure that the customers could perform their responsibilities without delay during the visit. In short, the only real way to keep customers happy was to give them unrestricted, physical access.

One solution that was considered was a simple surveillance system in which visitors and personnel alike would have been monitored by a series of cameras located in the hangars; however, this would have been a cumbersome and ineffective solution since security staff would have found it difficult to distinguish between an employee or vendor and a customer. It would have been difficult to protect the aircraft and information with a system that focuses on everything.

The Solution

An idea arose after researching asset tracking technology that used sensors to help locate physical equipment. The concept involved placing a high-tech microchip on the equipment, which was then displayed to an operator as a simple dot on a screen. StandardAero began researching ways to apply this concept by placing a similar chip on a customer’s ID badge. Instead of displaying a dot on a screen, however, the chips would instead transmit signals that would enable cameras to follow the chip as it moved through an area.

Consultant Mark Pickett, of ABET Alliance LLC, believed in the concept and introduced StandardAero to Chris Wise from integrator Security 101, who agreed to help StandardAero make the idea, dubbed “eEscort”, a reality. The team subsequently presented the concept to the DHS, as well as the company’s Board of Directors for approval.
StandardAero completed the eEscort system at its Augusta facility in 2010. When a customer visits the facility, he/she is given a picture ID badge during registration that is programmed using Honeywell’s Pro-Watch security management system to grant access in authorized areas during the visit. The badge is unique in color and clearly displays the customer’s photo and company name to identify the customer during the eEscort process.

As the visitor moves through the hangars, RFID sensors recognize the presence of a badge through an Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) strip or chip. These activate the Honeywell cameras installed in each zone requiring escort, and the security operator is able to monitor areas where visitors are located through the facility on central monitors integrated into Honeywell’s MAXPRO VMS (Video Management System).

Signs are placed throughout the facility to notify visitors and personnel that video surveillance is in progress and customers are specifically given a brochure explaining how eEscort works. The brochure has a survey on the back so that StandardAero can ensure the system is working for the customer. Security personnel are able to view the entire operations and business areas that are open to customers using live, digitally recorded video that is stored on the company’s server. These dedicated escorts can monitor the video via the central monitoring station at all times during business hours. After hours, the badges are automatically disabled, and any access granted during this time is done by physical line-of-sight escort.