Success Story: Steely Confidence in Megapixel

Jan. 18, 2013
Specialty steel manufacturer uses surveillance cameras to streamline the fabrication process

Headquartered in Ellwood City, Pa., Ellwood Group International (EGI) produces engineered, heavy metal sections for specialty equipment manufacturers. The company’s nine operating business units — encompassing multiple plants in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Texas and Canada — are dedicated to solving customers’ needs for specially-engineered forging steels, iron castings, forgings, and other alloy parts. 

“We have moved from a test environment over five years ago to now having megapixel cameras deployed at about 20 different locations in our various plants,” says Eugene Spadafore, Senior Network Administrator, EGI. “We started out asking, ‘How can we improve quality for process X?’ Rather quickly we saw the value of closely monitoring our manufacturing processes with HD megapixel-quality cameras. Now, it’s a standard in our environment, we use cameras at every one of our facilities and have about 250 in total at this time.”

Spadafore’s division has developed a de facto standard, scope of work, and set of specifications for how Compass Network Services, the project integrator, successfully deploys the IQeye cameras in each new location that request such technology. “All the cameras are riding on our network, so in order to maintain consistency and best practices, we elected to be the overall project manager for camera deployment,” Spadafore says. “As each new location or division discovers the benefits of this kind of manufacturing process monitoring — both live and post-event — they, too, would request cameras. We wanted to be able to implement our rollout of new cameras in an organized, efficient way.

“When making a single product that can cost tens of thousands of dollars, it is critical that we have the capability to accurately record the manufacturing process. Then, if we experience an issue downstream, we’re able to go back and find the root cause,” Spadafore continues. “If we can quickly solve manufacturing problems, the system pays for itself in short order.”

In addition to the 10 manufacturing facilities that now use HD megapixel cameras for process monitoring, additional cameras at those locations are also used for monitoring overall security as well. “I estimate we use our cameras 75 percent for process monitoring and 25 percent for general security,” Spadafore says.

EGI stores video at each location anywhere from three days to three months, depending on the manufacturing process being recorded. The majority of the cameras are of 2.1 MP quality and the newest utilize H.264 compression.

“Our growth is typically through acquisition,” Spadafore continued, “once a new company is acquired, the next question is often, ‘When can we get cameras installed?’ We are quite satisfied with how megapixel technology has performed in meeting our sophisticated needs. As a result of using advanced video surveillance for process control, we have seen improvements in efficiency and productivity, and that translates into real money.” 

Wendi Burke is Director of global marketing communications for IQinVision. To request more information about IQinVision, visit