Another Industry Turns to Wireless

Retail businesses have traditionally relied on an array of security sensors for intrusion detection systems, including motion detectors, door and safe contacts, glassbreak detectors and fixed-location panic buttons. “Physical security systems are essential in creating the secure environment on which retail businesses rely,” says Larry Halpern, president of Safe Systems Inc., a monitored security company in Louisville , Colo. “Without proper detection systems, the security of customers, employees, the store and its inventory can be put at risk.”

Wireless security systems have been used successfully for more than 20 years in nearly every environment, from financial institutions to government agencies. Offering more flexibility and functionality than a hard-wired system, wireless systems maintain the same sensor options and integrity, but are installed without the cumbersome wiring costs. The added benefits of wireless systems make them an ideal solution for retail applications, large and small.

Why Cut the Cord?

Security systems that rely on wired connections perform adequately in static locations, but once the wire is fixed in place, changing floor plans or making seasonal display adjustments are difficult and costly. Likewise, when a security system is upgraded — during a store remodel, for example — a wireless system is significantly cheaper to install

Hardwiring a security system can be cumbersome and time-consuming, often leading to an unexpectedly large invoice due to unpredictable labor costs. “Many times the expense of wiring a building is not cost effective, and sometimes due to a facility's building construction, it's next to impossible to run the wires,” Halpern says. “In many instances, because of the disruption to employees and the business, you just can't wire it.”

A wireless installation reduces installation costs and ensures a timely completion, while maintaining the secure environment necessary for the success of the business. For example, a large warehouse retailer with a fuel island does not have to trench over to the gas station from the main building. Wireless devices are simply mounted where they are needed.

Every security system requires maintenance, but a wireless system has fewer points of potential failure than its wired counterpart. Wiring can present long-term issues. “Broken wire can be caused by a nail driven into a wall or even a rat chewing through it, resulting in countless wasted hours searching for the failure point. A wireless system, on the other hand, only has its endpoints — making troubleshooting a simple matter of a systematic check,” Halpern says.

The current generation of intelligent wireless systems monitors the integrity of the link between the transmitter and the receiver, ensuring the system is operational without manual intervention.

Of course, periodic manual testing is recommended to ensure system reliability. That holds true for wireless or wired systems — the difference is that the testing is much easier to conduct on a wireless system.

Wireless systems offer additional functional advantages, such as security pendants and adaptability. Security pendants give employees the ability to trigger an alarm from anywhere in the store, lobby or parking lot — an impossibility with a wired system.

A wireless system also allows a retail store to easily adapt to seasonal rearrangements or display changes. “Wireless systems give us more flexibility to deal with changing environments and difficult installations. Because of its inherent benefits, we're installing more and more wireless systems all the time,” says Halpern.

The Economic Advantages of Wireless

No matter the size of the retail operation, a wireless platform is going to provide economic advantages over a wired configuration, whether in a retrofit or a new installation. The following examples examine the cost-savings of small retail, large retail and warehouse superstore wireless installations vs. similar hardwired installations.

Small Retail Outlets

Typical small retail outlets require fewer monitored points than large outlets.

Assuming 10 monitored points and one pendant, the implementation of a wireless security solution can save anywhere from $1,000 to almost $2,300, depending on the wiring complexity. Due to the difficulty of running cables for a hardwired solution, a wireless tactic for a new store or renovation can provide labor savings of more than $2,600 per store — a savings of 20 to 36 percent for a single small-retail location. Multiply this cost saving by a number of new or remodeled locations and the savings is significant.

Breakdown of small retail shop wireless savings

Hardwired security system
(10 points)

Wireless security system
(11 points)

Equipment

Labor

Total

Equipment

Labor

Total

Complex

$1,915

$4,500

$6,415

$2,273

$1,850

$4,123

Typical

$1,915

$3,250

$5,165

$2,273

$1,850

$4,123

Large Retail Outlets

Assuming 28 monitored points and two pendants for a typical large retail outlet, the implementation of a wireless system can save as much as $2,200 to more than $5,700 per store — anywhere from 23 to 43 percent. These savings result primarily from the ease of deploying wireless sensors and the cost of the cable.

Breakdown of large retail shop wireless savings

Hardwired security system
(28 points)

Wireless security system
(30 points)

Equipment

Labor

Total

Equipment

Labor

Total

Complex

$3,662

$9,900

$13,562

$4,994

$2,800

$7,794

Typical

$3,662

$6,400

$10,062

$4,994

$2,800

$7,794

Warehouse Superstores

For a typical warehouse superstore, we have assumed has 68 monitored points and four pendants. We have assumed a fuel island that requires monitoring, but that the hardwire cable was installed during the construction phase, making retrenching, which increases the labor cost, unnecessary.

For a large warehouse superstore, the implementation of a wireless security solution can save anywhere from $5,200 to almost $14,000 per location — or a 26 to 48 percent savings.

Breakdown of large warehouse superstore wireless savings

Hardwired security system
(68 points)

Wireless security system
(72 points)

Equipment

Labor

Total

Equipment

Labor

Total

Complex

$6,678

$21,900

$28,578

$9,956

$4,850

$14,806

Typical

$6,678

$13,400

$20,078

$9,956

$4,850

$14,806

Mark Jarman was appointed president of Inovonics in 2006. He has been with Inovonics for six years and previously served as vice president of sales, overseeing the Security Sales and Commercial Application Sales Groups. During his tenure with the company, Mr. Jarman has helped accelerate the company's strategic market share growth in the wireless industry. He has more than 16 years of business development, M&A, investor relations and business management experience in a variety of industries including wireless, aerospace, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.

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