Secure Your Engines
Large auto dealership in Pacific Northwest relies on open platform video for security and efficient operations
- By Courtney Dillon Pedersen
- May 22, 2019
With 17 retail, service and corporate facilities in Portland, Ore., and southwest Washington, Dick Hannah Dealerships has grown to become one of the largest automobile companies in the Pacific Northwest. They employ nearly 1,000 people, represent and service 12 automotive brands and maintain a total daily inventory of about 2,000 new and used vehicles.
Over the years, Dick Hannah Dealerships had installed a piecemeal video camera system at several of its locations. But as the company grew in scale and complexity, managers were looking to upgrade to a comprehensive, unified system to cover all locations in both Oregon and Washington.
Sean McKannay, CIO and digital marketing director, along with Chris Stroebel, service desk manager, are in the management group for Dick Hannah Dealerships. They had worked with Milestone on their previous system and brought them in to assist with the upgrade. Milestone, in turn, recommended REECE Complete Security Solutions (REECE) as the security integrator to design and install the company's new video surveillance system. McKannay and Stroebel worked closely with REECE to integrate the video system into their network, setting up the proper servers and virtual local area networks (VLANs) within the entire Dick Hannah Dealerships IT infrastructure.
When this upgrade project began in early 2017, there was a mix of standard-resolution legacy video cameras scattered throughout the facilities. Inside the main showroom area of each dealership, there were single-sensor Axis Communications network cameras installed, as well as some PTZ cameras on building exteriors to provide coverage of the entrances and parking lots.
“The project initially consisted of 60 cameras deploy across 11 dealerships that would be used specifically for management of service and sales. Through our conversations with Dick Hannah Dealerships, we all realized that there were more opportunities to use cameras as a tool to maintain high quality in their everyday business. We discovered that there were more ways to leverage the systems they were putting in place that would grant them flexibility and visibility to the various users within the organization,” said Max Saldana, director of strategic accounts at REECE. "As we developed the infrastructure and specifications for their solution, our design engineers partnered closely with Milestone as we used their open platform to pull together both the legacy equipment we decided to keep, as well as the new technologies we were integrating as we expanded their system."
The Milestone open platform VMS supports the widest choice in network devices, including support for more than 6,000 digital cameras, encoders and DVRs from more than 150 different manufacturers. With an open platform VMS, integrators and users alike have the freedom to choose the best technologies to meet their specific budget and use requirements.
A Better Approach
With the previous video network, Dick Hannah Dealerships had a centralized server, but its recorded video retention time was limited, and the system had reliability issues. The Dick Hannah Dealerships team worked with REECE to design a new video network architecture.
Now, a Milestone Husky server has been installed in each location. This allows centralized, local video use and management, as well as robust network connectivity to the corporate command center. Saldana explained that with this number of locations, there is a lot of network traffic. Even with a robust LAN/WAN environment, the requirements of networked video can be demanding due to the volume of data.
Husky servers provide a powerful, efficient and scalable, plug-and-play environment with a built-in PoE switch and input/output panel where cameras and alarm devices can be easily connected without requiring additional equipment.
"We've moved toward a best-of-breed, open platform approach with the Milestone portfolio, and a mix now of about 300 multi-sensor cameras from Arecont Vision and Hanwha Techwin America, and new PTZ cameras from Axis,” Saldana said. “With the new Husky server network and a healthy set of best practices in place, we can now make sure everyone's needs are met. Executive staff and store managers can access a global look or view individual stores depending on how permissions have been set up. We have also enabled remote viewing and management to allow for greater flexibility."
The Milestone XProtect video management and Web Client have been installed at each location. The executive team also uses Milestone Mobile, a free client interface that works with all XProtect video management software and Milestone Husky NVRs, and provides video system access via Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G connections.
From business hours to after hours, with remote monitoring and access control integration, Dick Hannah Dealerships uses its video surveillance system for a wide range of security and operational applications.
Access Control Integration
"We were able to leverage the company's existing Lenel access control system and integrate it with the Milestone video system," Saldana said. "Dick Hannah Dealerships now has some of the most cutting-edge technology in place. For example, they have Bluetooth card readers installed which allows the use of their phones to unlock doors and get card credentials while the Milestone system backs up the process with visual video verification."
The integration with Lenel OnGuard is based on Milestone’s XProtect Access interface and enables operators to display Lenel access control events and alarms in the XProtect Smart Client. OnGuard Access is an advanced access control application including a feature-rich alarm monitoring module allowing users to view alarm events from OnGuard in real time in the XProtect Smart Client and acknowledge OnGuard alarms from the XProtect Smart Client.
"Our general managers like having cameras where they can see the staff and customers during the day. They check if people are on task, or how they are handling situations," McKannay said. "The video is now an extension of management. Either on-site or through a smartphone, managers can see what's happening, and if they get a call that something's not being dealt with properly, the manager can verify the situation quickly.
McKannay explained that with the cameras in place, Dick Hannah Dealerships has seen a reduction in HR issues with employees, as well as a reduction in, and better management of, customer issues and complaints, including liability issues with vehicle damage, injuries, and slip-and-falls.
"You would be surprised by the number of instances where visitors to our facilities either claim that they slipped and were hurt in the service drive, or that their vehicle was damaged at our facility," Stroebel said. "Our managers use video to resolve these situations. When a customer comes in and says that we damaged their vehicle, we now use video documentation to see the exact condition of a vehicle both as it arrived at our facility and while on-site. This helps us better manage these conversations with our customers.”
Additionally, Dick Hannah's call center managers use the video system to improve customer service. Traditionally, it is challenging to coordinate communications between incoming customer calls with service writers, the people who write up vehicle service information when a customer arrives at the service bays. Service writers are often away from their workstations inspecting vehicles, collecting information and assisting customers. The call managers now use video to quickly see which writers are available to answer a customer question or provide more detailed assistance.
"Call managers use the video system all day long to see which service writers to transfer a call to, so the customer doesn't need to be put on hold," Stroebel said. "Before video, calls would be transferred blindly to the service desks, and call managers just hoped someone was there. Video has helped solve these issues."
Shrinkage, Vandalism and ROI
Stroebel and McKannay explained that with a dealership of their size, controlling theft and internal shrinkage is a substantial challenge with so many open areas, visitors, employees and sought-after equipment, tools, vehicles and parts. The security team uses recorded and live video day and night to monitor and reduce theft of all types. While inventory security is a prime concern, the company also uses video to help secure its cash vaults and safes, as well as armored truck pickups.
"There have been a number of occasions where a company has been able to harness Milestone and the technology behind it to be proactive and save money in the long run," Saldana said. "In cases of equipment theft, it doesn't take too many instances for the video system to quickly pay for itself."
For example, Saldana explained the current trend for thieves coming onto car lots, breaking into vehicles and stealing the car's main vehicle computer. With the damage to the vehicle—usually broken mirrors, smashed glass, and torn up dashboards—and the theft of the computer, a single instance can easily cost the dealership $8,000 to $10,000.
From 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. every night, Dick Hannah Dealerships has its own security team with continuous access to the camera views. Depending on circumstances, the security team may dispatch guards when it sees something suspicious, or they may use the facility's public-address system to send a verbal warning to trespassers to leave the property.
"It is amazing what people can do to a vehicle just sitting in a car lot. We have people coming on lots, damaging things or trying to break into cars every night," McKannay said. "We don't necessarily always dispatch a guard, often a verbal acknowledgment that you are being seen and that you are on private property is enough to move a suspect off the premises."
Recently a juvenile came onto a lot at night and began jumping from car to car, smashing and denting each hood as he went along. The live video monitoring allowed the team to quickly see this occurring and take quick action to help minimize the damage. Without video, the vandal may have been able to damage many more cars.
"I think in most cases it's just a matter of being able to see what's happening in real time then getting law enforcement there while it's happening," McKannay said. "The early detection and being able to get someone fast on site to put a stop to it has no doubt saved us a great deal of money."
High-performance Next Steps
Dick Hannah Dealerships is currently building a new 80,000-square-foot body shop and collision center in Vancouver, Wash. This new facility is the first where the security and surveillance system will be designed and installed from the ground up. Saldana explained that this is a critical location for Dick Hannah. When vehicles are damaged, they will come to this body shop for repair.
"For the body shop facility, there's a high level of performance needed from the video system," Saldana said. "Clear image resolution in the video documentation of the damage on these vehicles with the car's move through the facility is critical. We're incorporating PTZs, high-definition multi-sensor cameras, along with some video analytics. It will be a powerful system."
While the new Dick Hannah Dealerships collision center is under construction, Saldana has installed Axis PTZ and thermal cameras to secure the job site day and night.
"The reason we like the Milestone open platform VMS so much is that most of our projects at REECE are done with a design-build mentality," Saldana said. "We listen to the needs of the customer, develop a roadmap, then work with partners like Milestone to put together state-of-the-art video systems that benefit the customer in multiple ways."
With what began as an effort to make sure vehicles were not being stolen or damaged at night, Dick Hannah Dealerships and REECE have been able to bring together several technologies to better manage the company's safety, security and everyday operations.
"Through this project, the engineering help and support from REECE and Milestone have been great," McKannay said. “From best leveraging our existing systems to training our staff, this has been a collaborative effort all around, and we look forward to growing the system and utilizing more video capabilities with our new facilities and beyond."