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Securing Big Pharma: Surveillance is Key

Author : Simon Reed, Sales Director, Europe, ONVU Technologies

13 March 2019

The pharmaceutical industry is a burgeoning one: the global market was worth $934.8 billion in 2017 and will reach more than $1.1 trillion by 2021, according to The Business Research Company. It also employs approximately 4.4 million people worldwide according to the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations.

With that much money and manpower, the pharmaceutical market is one of the largest in need of robust protection for both people and assets. A breach within a pharmaceutical facility or the risk of compromising the quality of pharmaceutical raw materials can have a devastating impact on a brand's reputation, causing the general public to question the company's dedication to health and safety. And as more and more hands are involved in getting drugs from point A to point B, there is an increasing concern for the security of this valuable commodity.

There are several challenges that the pharmaceutical industry faces when it comes to security, including:
•  The introduction of counterfeit drugs into the supply chain.
•  Theft of high-dollar drugs.
•  Compliance requirements.
•  Expansive production facilities across geographical regions.

These entities must therefore adopt a holistic approach to security, encompassing a variety of components, such as access control, analytics, fire and intrusion alarms, and, perhaps most importantly, video surveillance.

Video surveillance is a critical component of the multi-layered approach to the protection of pharmaceuticals, from the beginning of the process using raw materials to the delivery at distribution points, healthcare facilities and beyond. Video is a useful tool to safeguard against risks that originate on the outside of the building, such as along the facility's perimeter, where surveillance can allow operators to pinpoint and address threats as they arise. Pharmaceutical companies can also combine video with physical access control points to link information about who is authorized to enter the building and identify suspicious activity in a moment's notice.

Though outside threats are paramount to the safety of these facilities, securing the inside of the building is just as important, as they are home to potentially hazardous materials. Stringent regulations and standards set forth by organizations such as the World Health Organization, EMA for the EU and FDA for the US, are in place to oversee every single point in the process of developing a pharmaceutical and mass producing it for public consumption. Security leaders can leverage video surveillance to ensure that these regulations are met, but large facilities typically face a number of challenges with regards to establishing complete coverage across the entire building. Wide-angle camera technology can be extremely beneficial in this case to ensure that every inch of a facility is observable.

Wide-angle and 360-degree video technology provides a vast field-of-view without blind spots, making it ideal for wide, expansive areas, such as warehouses, production and manufacturing facilities. However, given that some of these areas are harsh and hazardous environment, they require more robust cameras and infrastructure for monitoring. The implementation of robust wide-angle and 360-degree video surveillances means that in many locations, users can reduce their camera counts by 50 percent. This not only reduces upfront costs, but also keeps installation time and maintenance expenses at a minimum over the life span of the system.

Wide-angle camera technology that uses a single sensor also has the advantage of no moving parts, which means maximum uptime and the reduction of lost video as a result of malfunctions. Additionally, many specialty wide-angle cameras on the market today allow operators to view both live and recorded footage, as well as zoom in on areas of interest. This kind of technology is an integral part of a security plan for manufacturers with employees who are exposed to and handle potentially explosive substances daily, such as in the pharmaceutical industry.

At times, the research and development for some of the most volatile materials used in drug-making can make video surveillance more difficult, which can result in the demand for more robust devices to be in place. Video surveillance equipment must be protected from potential damage resulting from the use of combustible materials, dust and water, as well as potential vandalism. Camera technology, therefore, is only as good as the protections in place to keep the housing of the video data safe.  Pharmaceuticals can benefit from wide-angle and 360-degree surveillance cameras that carry with them the ATEX, IEC and IECEx certifications, given to devices with enclosures suited for explosive environments. Combined with additional ratings such as IP69K and IK10, these enclosures are rated for resistance to high-pressure water jets, dust and vandalism, taking the surveillance of critical infrastructure further.

The pharmaceutical industry is one that is critically important to the health and wellbeing of all nations, and it therefore must be kept safe at all points. The importance of compliance and quality control in manufacturing practices as well as risk management of pharmaceutical raw materials leave no room for mistakes, nor accidents. Video surveillance solutions that meet the strict requirements are key to the protection of this lucrative industry, from research and development to the production and delivery of the final product, helping these demanding and hazardous environments comprehensively monitor activity and ensure compliance.

About the author

Simon Reed serves as Regional Sales Director for Europe at ONVU Technologies, parent company of Oncam, the leading provider of 360-degree and wide-angle video capture and business intelligence technology. Oncam provides specialized camera technology for maximum resilience in hazardous environments, where resistance to the elements and compliance to stringent regulations is paramount.
 


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