Driving Forces

Caymans airport unites access control with energy management system to achieve integrated operation

The Cayman Islands are a popular Caribbean getaway, so it’s not surprising that Owen Roberts International Airport is extremely busy for its size. Located on the southwest end of the largest island, Grand Cayman, the airport handles approximately 1 million passengers through its five boarding gates and facilitates 30,000 takeoffs and landings each year. The airport’s current 60,000-square-foot terminal has been welcoming passengers since 1985.

In 2004, airport administrators selected Cayman Refrigeration Co. Ltd., part of the Androgroup Ltd. group of companies and the local TAC Partner, to replace the airport’s failing electronic access control system with an Andover Continuum® access control solution. Administrators also wanted to expand the existing energy management system and integrate it with the new access control system. Cayman Refrigeration had installed the EMS in 1999 when the airport upgraded an old analog HVAC control system to direct digital controls.

Weathering the Storm
A contract to begin work had just been signed when Hurricane Ivan, a Category 5 storm, hit the Cayman Islands on Sept. 11, 2004. The airport suffered extensive damage -- 5 feet of water surrounded the terminal building, and torrents of rain poured in through the ceilings, damaging numerous mechanical and electrical systems, and destroying the access control system.

What was originally expected to be a structured phase-out of the old access control system over a two-week period became a fast-track endeavor to bring the new system online immediately to maintain compliance with international and national aviation security requirements. Grant Mussenden, air conditioning and building automation systems technician at Cayman Refrigeration, led the installation of the new security system and reestablishing the EMS, all while the cleanup and physical repairs of the terminal building were underway.

Cayman Refrigeration upgraded the existing EMS network controller to TAC’s next-generation Continuum NetController and then installed 22 access control modules on the same network. The system was integrated with the four existing local system controllers that handle the EMS functions. The access control modules and their corresponding wall-mounted card readers control access to five boarding gates, employee and service entrances, the baggage screening room, the baggage/passenger search room, and the administration office. Employees use one proximity card/badge for both access and identification.

A Versatile Solution
“I appreciate the convenience of being able to access either system to make modifications right from the work station in my office,” said Kerith McCoy, senior manager of Airport Operations-GCM. “I no longer have to make a trip to our IT/communications room to investigate a problem and fix it. Plus, the fact that we’ll be able to expand the entire system, both EMS and access control, to meet our needs couldn’t come at a better time. Over the course of the next three years, we are planning a major 200,000-square-foot terminal expansion, increasing our passenger handling capabilities to 1.24 million annually. With Continuum, system expansion from this point forward is just a matter of adding more controller modules and card readers.”

An additional feature that was programmed into the CyberStation workstation at the airport’s request was the ability to manually adjust, through the graphic interface, the security level of the access control system relative to the current threat level. During times of an increased threat level, the access control system increases the level of security by requiring employees to enter a PIN, in addition to presenting an ID card to a card reader, before gaining access to certain doors at certain hours of the day. The CyberStation also is used in conjunction with a Fargo Directto-Card DTC badge printer system for printing employees’ photo ID/access cards.

Recovery and Expansion
“We are pleased with the TAC products and service,” said David Frederick CEO of Cayman Islands Airports Authority. “Owen Roberts International is poised to meet the challenges of our industry in the 21st century, and we welcome our business partners as we move ahead with our recovery and expansion plans.”

The Continuum solution provides the Owen Roberts International Airport with a reliable electronic access control system and increased safety for passengers and employees alike, while meeting the ever-changing security requirements of the aviation industry. Building on the successful performance of the existing EMS system, TAC Partner Cayman Refrigeration provided an integrated solution, allowing a single operator interface to control and monitor both systems.

About the Author

Anthony DeStefano is director of Integrated Security Systems for TAC Systems Integration East.

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