Getting It In Gear

Oct. 27, 2008
Enterprising security director shapes a program to protect the Montgomery Hyundai manufacturing plant

As Larry Pugh has discovered, there’s no substitute for experience. Pugh, who retired from a 20-year career with the Montgomery (AL) Police Department, was hired by Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama as the Montgomery plant security manager in January 2004. The move to Hyundai followed a stint as the security director of Jackson Hospital, also in Montgomery. Pugh brought to the fledgling Hyundai plant the experience of recreating a security system for the hospital.

A Memorable Job
When Pugh took over the security department at Jackson Hospital, he found the equipment in bad shape. “The CCTV was antiquated, and there was no access control at all. There were two CCTV systems in place, but they were different, so they couldn’t talk to each other,” he said. “It’s like having a PC and a Mac—they’re both computers, but they don’t speak the same language.”

Plus, Pugh said, the hospital was still using time-lapse VHS recorders. “We had four recorders, but only one of them worked. Anytime I needed video, I couldn’t do anything with it. It was useless.”

In short, the system required a lot of improvements. Enter Larry Oliver, accounts manager for systems integrator Vision Southeast, based in Birmingham, AL. “Oliver came to see me,” Pugh reported. “He agreed to bring in his techs to do a complete survey of the hospital’s equipment and then give me a proposal. Basically, he spent a week doing free work.”

That week paid off. Vision Southeast arranged for a GE-built device called Probridge to be installed. “Probridge interfaces with the two camera systems and lets them talk to each other,” Pugh explained. Now the two systems could be controlled with one keypad, rather than the two sets of controls previously required.

Pugh then added delayed-egress access control to the hospital’s bag of security tricks. This system allowed a door to be held closed for 15 to 30 seconds to prevent someone from fleeing if necessary.

Learning from the Past
When Pugh made the move to Hyundai, he kept his successes at Jackson Hospital in the back of his mind. In early 2004, the vehicle manufacturing plant was just in the construction phase, the ideal time to start thinking about security.

A consultant came in to assess the plant’s needs and put together bid specs. When the bidding process was over, Pugh was pleased that Vision Southeast came out the winner.

“They’re very customer-service oriented,” he said. “Technically, they’re knowledgeable. And they’re quality-oriented in the installation. They leave it looking good, never shabby.”

The project was divided into two phases. Phase 1 was the hardware installation. Phase 2 was an extension, with additional cameras, plus access control needs that became obvious as time went on.

The surveillance system works on a fiber backbone, according to Vision Southeast’s Oliver. “Fiber optic cable goes throughout the plant to allow real-time viewing of all video in a central monitoring location.”

The Video IQ software package that is used at Hyundai “learns” what is supposed to be in range of a camera according to programmed parameters. A parking lot camera, for example, won’t be impressed when a car rolls by, but a person walking through will send an alert.

Foreign Trade Zone Requirements
Aside from the usual security requirements, the Hyundai plant has to meet the standards of U.S. Customs and Border Protection because it is a foreign trade zone. A company that imports products from another country, as Hyundai does from its home base of Korea, can either pay a tariff when the items arrive in the United States or it can be designated a foreign trade zone and pay the tariff on the assembled product. In other words, instead of paying taxes on the goods themselves, the company pays based on the sum of the goods.

Since the plant answers to Customs instead of local law enforcement, Hyundai’s security force is somewhat like its own police force. For that reason, evidence collection and preservation is vitally important.

“We save video differently,” Pugh said. “We maintain video for evidence, and we save it to a CD with a self-executing file so that it can be played on any PC. The video also has a digital watermark on it so that it’s evident if it has been tampered with. That goes a long way in court.”

When Customs does a spot check at the plant, it requires that incoming containers not be opened until Customs agents arrive. The camera system not only records the containers’ arrival, it runs continuous video to demonstrate that they are untouched until agents arrive. The foreign-trade-zone status also means that fencing is required and that strict entrance and exit procedures must be followed. “We caught a contractor climbing over the fence,” Pugh said. “He was just taking a shortcut, and he didn’t understand that doing so was a violation of Customs rules—that everyone has to be checked in and out properly.”

The video system also allowed the security team to track down a driver who committed a hit-and-run in the parking lot. “We have hundreds of vehicles in the parking area,” Pugh said. “But we could pull up the video and identify which one did it.”

Security also used the video to follow up on what looked like someone lying inside a car in the parking area. An officer was dispatched to check it out and found a contractor who wasn’t feeling well. Medical assistance was summoned, and the worker was able to get treatment before his condition worsened.

Applying Experience to the Real World
Keeping an eye on everything on the property is no mean feat. There are 14 buildings on 500 of the 1,700 acres, and 2 million square feet under roof.

Thirty-two pan/tilt cameras and 32 fixed cameras keep a cyber-eye on the place, and 135 doors are wired with access control. GE’s ProxBadge system uses encoded chips in badges assigned to each worker. Each badge has specified access rights to prevent workers from going places they don’t belong. “It helps prevent industrial espionage,” Oliver pointed out.

But equipment alone isn’t enough to protect employees and assets, Pugh stressed. “The worst mistake you could make is to spend a lot of money to install a system and then not use it,” he said. “You have to pull the video off and look at whatever is there.”

Getting to the point where you can maximize the use of the equipment takes a bit of time, he acknowledged. “It’s a fact of life that you have to tweak the system as you go along. You have to find out what works for you: the frame rate, the number of pictures per second, and so forth. You also have to discover the best way to set up the cameras: motion-activated or constant recording,” he said.

Service and Communication
The key to getting the right amount of security, Pugh said, is working with a vendor that is customer-service oriented. He said Vision Southeast demonstrated their commitment after lightning struck and burned out several of their cameras. “They brought in temporary cameras at their own expense until the manufacturer was able to fix our cameras.

“You want to develop a relationship with a company that is concerned with meeting your needs, not just with making a dollar,” he said. “There’s nothing worse than fighting with a contractor.”

Communication with the bosses is important, too. The crime rate in Korea is very low, and it took some convincing to demonstrate the need for all the security here. “They told us that you can ride the subway in Seoul in the middle of the night and no one would bother you. It took lots of conversations to explain that it’s not like that here,” Oliver recalled.

Pugh used a sophisticated form of show-and-tell to get the point across. “It took a little education at the beginning,” he said, “bringing in the newspapers every day and pointing out the crimes that occur here. But we’re all dedicated to making this a safe environment.”

Liz MartA­nez is a leading security expert and the author of The Retail Manager’s Guide to Crime and Loss Prevention: Protecting Your Business from Theft, Fraud and Violence (2004, Looseleaf Law Publications). She is a member of ASIS International and an instructor at Interboro Institute in New York City, a two-year college with a Security Management degree program. She is delivering a paper on Business Continuity in the Retail Sector at the CPM East conference in Orlando in November. Ms. Martinez can be reached through her Web site at

About the Author

Liz Martinez

Liz Martinez is a consultant and an expert witness in retail security, particularly organized retail crime, and in forensic linguistics. She is a Ph.D. candidate in linguistics at Arizona State University with a research focus on false confessions, and she serves as the Programs Chair for the Phoenix chapter of ASIS International. She is the author of the book The Retail Manager’s Guide to Crime & Loss Prevention: Protecting Your Business from Theft, Fraud and Violence (Looseleaf Law, 2004) and the novel Sticks and Stones, as well as hundreds of articles and short stories. She can be reached via