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Computer-linked pager improves security, saves Morton money.

We were looking for an alarm monitoring system that would enable security officers to move around and would eliminate the need for a fixed place alarm monitor," says Dave Polensky, corporate security supervisor at Morton International's corporate headquarters building in Chicago.

"If mobile officers could monitor the alarm system, they could respond to emergencies or act as escorts to the parking garages while continuing to monitor our alarm system. In short, we wanted the most flexible and cost-effective alarm monitoring system we could get."

Although Morton is best known for its salt, a fixture in most American homes, it is also a large chemical company, making specialty chemicals in several groups that deal with adhesives and polymers and many other products. In addition, it is a leading manufacturer and marketer of airbag inflators to the automotive industry all over the world.

Morton's corporate headquarters fill 15 floors of a 36-story high-rise. Polensky is responsible for all security on the company's 15 floor.

Consultants who had assisted Morton on the design and installation of its security systems suggested that Visiplex might have the answer. He contacted the Deerfield, Ill., firm and had them conduct an equipment demonstration in the building.

"I was somewhat apprehensive at first," says Polensky "because the system was new to this country, although it had been proven in Australia. The demonstration set my mind at rest. The system worked fine throughout our facility and the price was right. I may have thought I was taking a gamble, but the system has completely met our needs. It's proven extremely reliable, we've had no downtime, and all we've had to do since installing our system is to change the pagers' batteries."

The system allows for more efficient coverage of the company's alarm console during the night shift. It can save Morton up to $100,000 annually because the security desk does not need to be continuously staffed after business hours.

On detecting a signal the computer downloads to the paging system, allowing Morton's security staff to be on security rounds anywhere in the building. In short, an alarm message goes directly to the pager. The pager notifies a security officer who merely presses the read button to learn of the nature and location of the alarm, such as a fire alarm on the 35th floor.

The officer is notified of a problem immediately, whether he or she is in a washroom, on a tour or providing an escort to the parking garage.

The system reliably monitors all fire, intrusion and environmental alarms throughout the Morton floors.

"We get emergency alarms particularly after hours," says Polensky. "A security officer gets warning of a smoke detector going off and must go up to investigate. We have a supplemental smoke detection system throughout our office space, and occasionally a coffee pot or something similar trips the alarm. However, we wouldn't know about the alarm if the automatic paging system were not in place. We'd known of it only when an officer returned to the security center and checked the alarm monitor."

During the day, security handles visitor control at the security desk, so there is a lot of activity at the station. Security officers at the desk keep the pager on and if it beeps they check the computer. In this way they need not continually monitor the screen during very busy times of the day.

"I think it paid for itself in the first nine months of operations, certainly in the first year of operation," Polensky remarks.

Morton's savings spring from the automatic alarm monitoring paging capability, a feature unique to the Visiplex Plus system. Triggered by sensors, the system transmits user preprogrammed messages to designated personnel. Such sensors can be fitted to machines, alarm and security systems, emergency call points, wireless alarm transmitters and other switching devices.

The system can store up to 1,000 of such "preprogrammed" or "canned" messages. These can be transmitted manually or automatically by external devices. The system may be configured to also accept up to 1,000 contact and voltage level shift inputs.

Polensky finds the security officers enjoy using the pager system. Although there was a learning period in which officers had to practice using the pagers and reading the messages, the time was minimal as most of Polensky's people adapted to the pager without any difficulty.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Morton International Inc.
Author:Feit, Edward
Publication:Communications News
Date:Apr 1, 1993
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