CCTV helps Corus improve process monitoring

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Corus Northern Engineering Services has installed CCTV at various Corus plants around the UK, resulting in more secure premises and improved process monitoring.

Although closed circuit television (CCTV) systems are commonplace in today's society, many manufacturing companies have yet to take full advantage of their capabilities, not only as security devices, but also as an aid to monitoring critical processes or machines within a production environment.

Corus Northern Engineering Services (CNES), the asset management and condition monitoring arm of steelmaking giant Corus Group plc, has successfully completed a series of CCTV installation projects at various Corus plants around the UK, resulting in more secure premises and improved process monitoring. The company is now offering its CCTV and communications expertise to external customers, including local authorities, transport and other manufacturing companies. CNES can offer advice and guidance and manage the complete installation and commissioning of small, single-camera CCTV projects right up to multiple-camera, multiple-monitor installations.

George Ollerenshaw, CCTV and Communications Specialist at CNES, is responsible for project managing all CCTV installation projects at Corus Group and to external clients. He comments: "As well as project managing all CCTV and communications systems within the Corus Group, we are now looking to expand our services into other industrial markets where companies may not already fully appreciate what CCTV can do for them in terms of improved process monitoring as well as site security."

Four success stories

Ollerenshaw has already successfully managed four separate CCTV installation projects at Corus' Hartlepool, Rotherham, Scunthorpe and Port Talbot sites.

The first of these projects took place at Corus Tubes in Hartlepool. With no CCTV security since the plant opened, the Hartlepool site undertook various risk assessments and decided to install the latest security technology at the site. As Ollerenshaw explains: "The security gatehouse was so far [around two miles] from the main 20-inch and 42-inch steel mills that we decided to improve our overall security at the site by installing the latest CCTV technology."

State-of-the-art networked CCTV systems are now installed, with digital radio links to PCs and monitors in the security gatehouse. Ollerenshaw says: "We completed the project in two stages last year [2006]; the first was completed in September, when we had installed a total of eight CCTV cameras, four on each mill. Now there are 11 CCTV cameras in total networked at the site."

Reasons for radio

According to Ollerenshaw, digital radio was the preferred communications format because the two miles of cabling from the security gatehouse to the mills "was simply cost-prohibitive".

He says: "We had a steep learning curve. We needed to specify and source the necessary digital decoders, software and hardware to be able to accept the signals from the CCTV cameras. Also, we had to provide all the digital radio networking systems. The installation and commissioning at Hartlepool was a tremendous success."

After Hartlepool, the CCTV team moved on to Corus' Rotherham plant, which had outdated CCTV systems already in place. Ollerenshaw explains: "We replaced 14 CCTV cameras with similar CCTV systems to the ones at Hartlepool, only this time we connected them using fibre-optic cabling. We also rationalised the security gatehouse at Rotherham from 16 monitors down to just four. Again, Indigo Vision supplied the software and hardware."

Process monitoring

A further project successfully completed at Corus was the implementation of systems for process monitoring. The first of these projects was at Corus' Scunthorpe plant.

As part of the Scunthorpe site's 'Star Signs' investment programme, a CCTV installation project was carried out on the medium section mill, master control pulpit. Ollerenshaw says: "Previously, the medium section mill had six control pulpits dotted around the plant, with each one responsible for monitoring a certain part of the production process. Our job was to consolidate these six into one central control room, with fewer operators, but with the same monitoring capabilities as the six separate pulpits."

In total, 37 CCTV cameras, with full, 360-degree rotation capabilities, were installed at the plant. Some of these are networked via digital radio links, some by fibre-optic cable and the rest using standard copper cable. The single control room was fitted with 32 separate screens, which monitor critical parts of the production process, alerting management if problems occur.

A similar project was then carried out for the new medium section rail finishing plant. Again, 32 CCTV cameras are monitored in a single, centralised control room, with remote monitoring, control and recording. Ollerenshaw states: "The cameras use networked video recorders [NVRs] which enables playback at full frame rate. The storage capacity and quality of picture are both very high and the technology can be easily networked. In fact, you could say that we have installed an open-circuit TV system rather than a closed-circuit system."

Monitoring NDT

The most recent project to be completed was for Corus' Rail Group in Scunthorpe. The new CCTV systems for the Corus Rail Service Centre were installed just before Christmas 2006. CCTV cameras were installed to monitor rail preparation, NDT (non-destructive testing) processes and the saw process. Two separate control rooms house similar technology to the medium section mill installation.

Ollerenshaw's team will be starting its next project shortly, the installation of CCTV systems for the Long Welded Rail plant and Rod Mill at Scunthorpe.

Sophisticated modern CCTV systems and the high-quality pictures they deliver represent a superb tool for enhancing control and efficiency in industry and commerce. Asset protection benefits for major retailers also show the vital role the technology could deliver in industry and commerce, but that potential has yet to be tapped by companies of all sizes.

CNES' role is to create bespoke CCTV packages for customers, be it a major industrial processing plant, a small car park with just one camera, or anything in between. The service starts with a survey of the customer site and a discussion of the customer's requirements. Armed with that information, CNES will design, install, and commission exactly what the client needs, whether it is a brand new system, upgrading of existing equipment, or integrating new with existing – permanent or temporary.

Camera images can be recorded for analysis by others at a more convenient time, for example, allowing engineers to examine processes in detail. Insights from such analysis can lead to enhancements that give a company the opportunity to recoup part – or even all – of the cost of the CCTV system.

And CNES can add value by integrating audio links and public address facilities, turning control room staff into 'virtual visitors', for the first time being in more than one place at once, interacting with several operational activities at several different locations.

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