Security Solutions for the Chemical and Pharmaceutical Industries

  • Foto: af photo / Fotolia.comFoto: af photo /
  • Foto: af photo /
  • Heiner Jerofsky

The chemical and pharmaceutical industries have survived the commercial and financial crisis well. These companies are enjoying a strong tailwind behind their business and, through the strength of their innovations, have proven to be one of the workhorses of economic growth. The current prognosis for this year reckons with an increase of German chemical production of around 11 percent.

The total turnover of the industry grew during 2010 by some 18 percent. The pharmaceutical industry in general, and above all the group of researching pharmaceutical companies, also show a stable economic development in the current business cycle. However, danger can lurk in many corners for these companies. Such sensitive systems and processes can be well protected and secured with the help of modern security solutions or emergency ‚parachutes‘. demonstrates suitable concepts and technology.

Intention and Situation
Handling chemicals and medicines demands a fundamentally higher safety standard than in other branches of industry. In spite of this, there are frequent events that cause loss, outages and operational stoppages and also cause damage to corporate image. It is increasingly important to protect the whole operation against theft, sabotage and attacks by using suitable safety and security concepts. The product palette of large organizations stretches from oil and gas through chemicals, plastics and finishing products up to pesticides, fine chemicals and important pharmaceutical products.

Experts know that the ‚immobilization‘ of an important technical system, such as the energy supply, a high rack warehouse, a laboratory, the IT or a steam cracker, can lead to delivery difficulties for numerous products and thereby cause significant financial damage.

Such core industries are the motor of our economy and simultaneously - according to the current criminal statistics - also a potential target for saboteurs, terrorists and other criminals. The EMEA region has long been a member of the ‚worldwide danger zone‘. This is no longer just an ‚abstract‘ threat, as the terrorist danger had long been rated. At the end of last year several terror warnings have been issued because attacks were considered to be possible in Europe.

The security measures at airports and railway stations were increased drastically. This can happen anywhere as the Islamic extremist fighters know just how vulnerable our community is and change their strategies at will. Therefore only coherent and flexible security concepts help to protect our important industries.

Analysis and Risks
A security analysis must be regularly carried out to evaluate the weak points and potential dangers for the company and its people that takes into account current risks and security hazards. This appraisal of the status quo should try to cover all security risks (realistic dangers and recognized weak points) according to the type of production, infrastructure, location of the company and the sensitivity of the production processes.

It is all about estimating the criminal damage caused by property crime, fraud, misappropriation of company funds, corruption, industrial espionage, competitive infringements, product piracy, sabotage, product blackmail, bomb threats and felonies with a terrorist motivation. The threat arises from many very different sources and the risks for each company are constantly changing. To make such an evaluation it is necessary to draw on the statistics and experience of insurers, the police and also security service providers, and to be advised by (external) security specialists.

Criteria are the likelihood of an event and the extent of the potential damage. Therefore, the higher the risk and its probability, the more urgent the need for action. It must also be decided whether the risks threaten the company‘s existence or rather would have no significant effect on the functioning of the operation. This type of report forms the basis for adapting the security concept.

Aims and Principles
The point of the exercise is quite simple: the highest security with the lowest (cost) effort! The vulnerabilities, threats and risks are minimized by technical, staff or organizational measures according to a list of priorities resulting from the security analysis. This, together with the security goals given by the company management, should contain primarily:

  • the preservation of health of the employees and visitors,
  • the protection of company equipment and know-how and thereby
  • the commercial capability, the production capacity and supply capability of the company.

It is self-evident that the security concept must conform to all legal requirements. It takes into account the complete interaction of all security measures to date and should structure them as follows:

  • perimeter protection (route and construction),
  • personnel and vehicle access,
  • protection of particularly endangered areas, buildings and systems,
  • organization and equipment of the company security operation,
  • danger warning systems and communications technology,
  • measures for the prevention and clarification of crimes.

Perimeter Protection and Mechanics
The first and simultaneously one of the most important protective measures is consistent perimeter protection with sufficient distance from endangered buildings and systems. The simple formula for protection of buildings and systems is: first secure outside, then inside - first secure mechanically, then electronically. Fencing must of course be of the same quality right round the entire compound. Good open field security already protects objects at the outset. Security measures start already at the fence with classic mechanical access components such as gates, doors, barriers, turnstiles, barriers or bollards. These significantly increase the resistance time value. External enclosure of an area either with a fence or a wall provides:

  • protection against intentional or unintentional trespass over the compound boundary,
  • protection against rapid, intentional and forceful entrance over the compound boundary,
  • a reinforced location for the property owner, security personnel or users against intrusion or punishable actions by persons who have gained illegal entry and
  • a documented and thereby legally valid compound boundary.

Boundaries should be made straight and clearly visible wherever possible. The ground should be level and without plant growth on both sides of the fence. The entire boundary should also be walkable inside and outside, with unhindered sight and be well lit. It is obvious that fencing alone cannot provide sustainable protection against unlawful entry. Effective outdoor security takes into account landscaping, plant growth, lighting as well as the allocation and usage of buildings and systems.

Depending upon the security requirements, additional access control, vehicle barriers or similar may be necessary. There are many good fencing systems on the market with different heights and material strengths to meet very different security requirements, such as those made of double wire panels, flat bar panels, extruded metal, steel or wire mesh, metal grid panels or polycarbonate. As a rule, fences for industrial or commercial purposes should have a minimum height of 2.2m and possibly also be equipped with Y-form deflectors and rolled barbed wire as protection against climbing over and crawling under the fence.

They must also fit artistically and visually in the neighborhood and be adapted to the general appearance of the whole compound. Local regulations and the neighbors must be considered of course. Some of the largest chemical and pharmaceutical factories lie directly adjacent to rivers, and a fence toward the riverbank is often not considered necessary. Instead, it is attempted to close this security hole with movement detectors and video surveillance. However, such open flanks without barriers are gaping holes in the security system. If unauthorized persons encroach, it is often very difficult to get security staff to the scene quickly (that is, before any damage can be done).

Apart from the constructional characteristics of buildings, mechanical protection also includes the doors, windows and other ways in. Here the most important factors are the actual resistance time value and the physical characteristics required for other reasons, such as thermal insulation, resistance to thrown objects, resistance to fire and/or sun protection. The market has everything on offer to satisfy the highest individual demands, such as security foils like Profilon from Haferkamp to protect against eavesdropping in the management suite, or ballistic-reducing glass, frames and false wall systems from Sitec for computer centers or laboratories.

Electronics and Intervention
In particular in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, technical security systems must be integrated in a (company-internal) security center - comparable to an expanded emergency and service center - for reasons of economics and simplicity of handling. All security-relevant information that is relevant for danger alerts and the resultant reaction arrives at this point. All these systems are linked and monitored:

  • time management and access control systems,
  • perimeter detection systems,
  • mechatronic locking components,
  • video surveillance systems,
  • environmental building systems,
  • communication technology,
  • documentation technology,
  • intrusion, attack and fire alarm systems,
  • condition monitoring and fault reporting systems.

Such integrated systems are offered by leading manufacturers and have already proven themselves in practice. Quick diagnosis is possible through the combination of standardized automation and security technology - also over great distances - with short reaction and intervention times in 24-hour operation. Of course, this gives emergency, service and response staff a demanding role.

Security Personnel and Training
In large firms and industrial parks the security service is carried out by their own employees or by high-quality external service providers. The required security targets are met with a corresponding concept and implemented with integrated technology. However, it is also obvious for all other, smaller sites that only qualified staff are applied (with a qualification for protection and security).

The job of the employees in the company security team includes in particular:

  • operation of an emergency call and service center
  • assignment of intervention forces
  • patrolling and status checks
  • vehicle and personnel checks
  • surveillance of spaces and buildings
  • access control, visitor hospitality
  • reception and VIP service
  • protection of people and events
  • assistance with meetings and large events
  • investigation and clarification of crimes
  • preventative defense against eavesdropping
  • key and access control
  • ID card administration.


Philosophy and Public Relations
Corporate security in large companies includes the planning and control of the security of the company, that is, classic security team tasks. This management responsibility also includes the protection of industrial systems against attack and manipulation by unauthorized people. Also in the list of strategic aims of a security team are, amongst others:

  • security planning for different scenarios,
  • the creation of security concepts and aims,
  • assignment of responsibility, staff assignment and checks.

Security does not belong to the core competency of a company in the chemical or pharmaceutical industry. All the measures to be carried out should be accompanied by a consistent security philosophy that makes it clear to all employees that the reputation of the company, its commercial growth and job security can only be ensured by stable solutions. This is in the first instance a motivational and communications problem and is a task for internal public relations. The internal PR thereby communicates security information to all employees as part of its corporate communication. All of them must absorb the security philosophy and apply it convincingly themselves.

Prognosis and Route
Long-term security prognoses are similar to looking to the stars for answers. Current and short-term developments and estimates for the security of the chemicals and pharmaceuticals industries however assume the following security situation:

  • we live in a safe region (!),
  • the police are successful in law enforcement and crime prevention,
  • total criminality is reducing slightly and crime solving slightly improving,
  • product piracy and industrial espionage is increasing (big grey area),
  • the industry has already done a lot to protect its people and equipment,
  • the danger of terrorist acts has significantly increased,
  • the so-called hard targets - (like embassies, consulates, industrial installations and infrastructure for example) and soft targets (like large events and gatherings) are and remain a weak point in our civilization,
  • measured and graded security solutions must be met in good time and with a look to the current situation for important targets as well as for key and core industries.

Therefore, up-to-date company security requires a quick and professional response to changes in internal and external security (flexible response). Also in the future, a regular security analysis and the continuous updating of the security concepts by company-external security experts and/or the police is the right way to attain optimum security and thereby to protect the commercial success of the company. It is important not to forget the parachute while the industry is flying high!

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