More Comfortable Operations

Retrofit brings a sharper image to command center

Throughout the world, security and screening for explosives is a vital service for numerous types of businesses and organizations—from package transport to government agencies and to financial institutions. MSA Security specializes in high consequence threat protection and specialized training for corporate and government organizations from locations in New York, Massachusetts and California.

Made up of security professionals with diverse backgrounds in law enforcement, elite military units and the private sector, MSA Security provides explosive detection, consulting, training and perimeter security services to minimize vulnerabilities to threats and lessen risks in order to protect personnel and property of companies around the world.

Confronting Subject Matter

One of the company’s proprietary tools is a system called SmartTech that allows frontline X-ray security guards to consult with subject matter experts (SMEs) about questionable package contents quickly and without causing disruption.

“If a guard isn’t quite sure about the contents of a package in an X-ray screening machine, they can hit a button and upload the images to our command center where we have military SMEs, IED experts and bomb technician experts to evaluate the contents,” said Kevin Comerford, vice president of business development for MSA Security. “Our staff then provides an opinion and further direction to help avoid any unnecessary building evacuation or a panic situation.”

The command center where security staff uploads questionable images is at the company’s New York offices and operates 24/7. Here, about 25 different SMEs communicate with security staff monitoring more than 450 SmartTech devices at varying locations around the world.

“The SMEs review test packages and live containers that are usually found in high volume mail rooms or corporate lobbies and help assess the packages without disrupting business to determine whether or not there is a real threat,” said Comerford.

As the SmartTech technology continued to evolve, the command center needed an upgrade to keep pace. Using the existing space, MSA Security retrofitted the entire command center with new workstations, monitors and consoles to create a more ergonomic, functional, spacious and appealing command center.

“Our command center is a showpiece for potential customers and we wanted to give it a whole new look,” Comerford said. “So we invested in new furniture, desks, credenzas and upgraded the lighting for an entirely new retrofit of the room.”

Finding the look was easy for Comerford and his team, but finding the right furniture to fit in the space proved to be challenging. Using the existing space provided limitations in terms of size, shape and dimensions.

“The shape of the furniture needed to fit the capacity of the equipment and technology, and provide enough working room for the SMEs in terms of ergonomics,” Comerford said. “Because it’s a 24/7 room, we needed to make sure it was designed properly so the operators were comfortable at their workstations.”

Getting Some Help

To achieve these goals, MSA Security enlisted the help of Winsted Corp., a Minneapolis-based manufacturer of consoles and control room furniture. Together, they determined the best console solution that provided an answer to the existing spatial challenges, and offered an environment for comfortable, efficient operations.

“We created a CAD drawing of the room, so we determined the amount of equipment that had to be installed, how many operators would be in the room, the distance between the operators and the monitors, and then also the ease of installation,” Comerford said. “Winsted was very helpful in terms of the room design and helping the entire retrofit come together.”

MSA Securities selected the Insight product line of consoles that feature a high-density profile and an overall depth that saves space and maximizes functionality. After an overnight installation process, the MSA Security command center staff took hold of their new space without missing a beat.

“We couldn’t have any downtime, so we did the install through the night and were fully operational the next morning,” Comerford said. “The technicians were very familiar with Winsted furniture, so the installation was a very smooth process.”

With the new retrofit in place and fully operational, plans for upgrading a second facility is in the works. Dispatchers for emergency service calls directed to MSA Systems Integration in New Jersey, the parent company of MSA Security, will soon have an entirely new, upgraded service center to match the caliber of the explosives monitoring command center.

“As well as serving a vital function for our clients, our command center is a showpiece for our clients and new business, which is why a retrofit was so important,” Comerford said. “Our command center has a rich, professional look with consoles that are comfortable and functional for our operations. That was what we needed and working with Winsted helped us achieve those goals.”

This article originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of Security Today.

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