Multi-Site Engineering Company Improves Visitor & Staff Safety
- A Savance EIOBoard Client Case Study
"Savance was the only one that was recommended by the access control manufacturer. It hit all the right notes, right out of the gate."
Aron Caryl, Integrator, Westco Systems
Wunderlich-Malec Engineering's corporate offices in Minnesota - the first location for the company's Savance solution.
Wunderlich-Malec Engineering has a long history of designing and implementing engineering solutions for commercial, industrial, and government markets throughout North America and the world. Since its inception in 1980, the company has grown to become one of the largest and most well-established engineering companies in the United States with 30+ facilities and over 400 professionals on staff.
With the growth that Wunderlich-Malec experienced came some challenges with tracking staff members in order to know who was on the premises at all times. Previously, staff members were signed in and out by a receptionist, and it was hard to ensure records were 100% accurate. This, of course, was bound to be a problem in case of an emergency. Employees also travel between the various locations, further complicating staff tracking and emergency preparedness.
Also, since accountability in an emergency situation doesn't end with employees, there were also improvements to be made when it came to managing visitors. Previously, Wunderlich-Malec used a traditional visitor sign-in sheet at the front desk; however, it was not always used as intended.
"On a more basic level, we were looking for an easy-to-use digital in/out board, where we could easily make changes and manage staff. We also wanted a system that we could easily replicate to a different site."
To solve its issues with accountability, Wunderlich-Malec wanted a system that would allow employees and visitors to easily sign in and sign out, by integrating with the company's new access control system. "On a more basic level, we were looking for an easy-to-use digital in/out board, where we could easily make changes and manage staff," says Antony Jones, IT Manager at Wunderlich-Malec Engineering. "We also wanted a system that we could easily replicate to a different site." It was also important for the company to find a solution that was backed by good support from the solution provider.
Wunderlich-Malec put its access control integrator, Westco Systems, in charge of finding a solution. Aron Caryl, co-owner at Westco Systems, explains that Wunderlich-Malec initially wanted a simple access control system, but that this changed as the conversation got a bit deeper and they started thinking about the specifics of how such a solution would function. "Wunderlich-Malec asked about employee tracking as far as knowing who was in the building, where they were in the building, and how long they had been there," says Caryl. "At the time, this type of system, an electronic in and out board, was new to me."
In addition to access control integration capabilities, allowing for quick and easy check-in and check-out using a badge, Wunderlich-Malec also required a solution that could handle a multi-site configuration. "Wunderlich-Malec's specific challenge is that they have multiple sites across multiple states, and individuals that travel between those sites. They wanted a quick and easy view of who was where, along with a nice, easy-to-use dashboard that could see all locations in real-time," says Aron Caryl. "For that reason, we wanted to make sure that, through their IT infrastructure, the solution was scalable across all 33 locations."
"When researching different access control manufacturers on behalf of Wunderlich-Malec, I came in contact with 3xLOGIC infinias, who in turn recommended Savance."
Since Westco did not have any experience with electronic in out boards at this point, they started looking for a solution that would fit the specific needs of Wunderlich-Malec. "I figured such a solution existed," says Aron Caryl, "and when researching different access control manufacturers on behalf of Wunderlich-Malec, I came in contact with 3xLOGIC infinias, who in turn recommended Savance."
After some additional research, as well as conversations with Savance and 3xLOGIC, Westco was certain they had found what Wunderlich-Malec was looking for. "Once we started doing the research and doing the meetings with the Wunderlich-Malec security planning team, we realized that the Savance in/out board was definitely what they needed," says Caryl. In addition to the electronic in/out board solution that Wunderlich-Malec was initially looking for, the Savance system also offered electronic Emergency Mustering and Visitor Management solutions, both of which fully integrate with each other and with the infinias access control system. In combination, the infinias and Savance solutions would provide the company with a quick and easy way to account for all personnel and visitors.
"Once we started doing the research and doing the meetings with the Wunderlich-Malec security planning team, we realized that the Savance in/out board was definitely what they needed."
At this point, neither Westco nor Wunderlich-Malec entertained the idea of another solution. "Savance was the only one that was recommended by the access control manufacturer," explains Aron Caryl. "It hit all the right notes, right out of the gate, so we didn't have a need to look elsewhere."
"Westco recommended Savance, and we relied on their recommendation," says Wunderlich-Malec IT Manager Antony Jones. "As it turns out, the Savance solution met all our needs. It did what we were looking for, for multiple offices."
Solution & Implementation
As a first step, Wunderlich-Malec wanted to implement EIOBoard, Savance's electronic in/out board solution, at their new corporate office in Minnesota. "It was important to them to have the new electronic system in place the first day the new office was opened," explains Aron Caryl. "That way, the standard could be set for employees to check in and check out with their badge. This would then be replicated to other locations."
The implementation part of the project came with some challenges, one of which was a bit of a rocky start. "Once Wunderlich-Malec was ready to go, they wanted the project done pretty much yesterday, something that didn't leave much time for Savance and us and infinias to come together and do our part," explains Caryl. "This is where Steve Bardocz at Savance stepped in, and I could instantly tell that this guy had it handled, and that everything was going to be alright." Caryl and Westco were more than satisfied with the performance of the Savance team during the implementation phase. "The responsiveness of the implementation and support team is amazing. That's been the biggest thing. When we’ve called with questions and concerns, everybody is right there ready to help out."
"The responsiveness of the implementation and support team is amazing. That's been the biggest thing. When we’ve called with questions and concerns, everybody is right there ready to help out."
Another challenge was that Wunderlich-Malec wanted to incorporate some very specific features into the integrated access control and electronic in/out board solution. For example, the company wanted to enforce anti-passback, a feature that was originally designed to prevent people from passing their card back to the person behind them, for example at a turnstyle. Essentially, it works by requiring each sign-in to correspond to a sign-out before the card can be used to sign in again.
As it turned out, using anti-passback as it was originally intended was not an option in Wunderlich-Malec's case. "A few people at Wunderlich-Malec were leary on the anti-passback feature in its original shape, in particular the lockout portion," Aron Caryl explains. "After finding out what the problem was, Savance created a pretty neat solution midway through the roll-out."
"Implementing the anti-passback relief feature for Wunderlich-Malec was the icing on the cake for an all-around well-architected system."
What Savance did was customize Wunderlich-Malec's software by relieving the access control system's anti-passback lockout if staff checked out of EIOBoard. "This encouraged employees to use the system properly, and provided extra motivation to remember to sign out," explains Steve Bardocz, President/CEO of Savance. "If they didn't, the punishment was the inability to get in when they got back to the office the next morning."
The importance of signing out, and the primary reason why Wunderlich-Malec wanted to use anti-passback in the first place, is accountability for emergency purposes. In an emergency, Wunderlich-Malec can now get a quick count of how many people are inside the building, rather than be hunting for people who just forgot to sign out. When it comes to an accurate digital muster list, this feature was therefore more important than anything. “Implementing the anti-passback relief feature for Wunderlich-Malec was the icing on the cake for an all-around well-architected system," says Savance's Steve Bardocz. "Too many people expect accuracy without adding measures that reinforce good behavior. I was glad to see Wunderlich-Malec’s commitment towards 100% accuracy to ensure everyone’s safety.”
Savance's tablet-based Emergency Mustering app allows for easy musterpoint check-in using a badge or touch screen.
As far as emergency preparedness goes, Wunderlich-Malec's original plan was not utilizing the Savance system to the fullest. "The original idea was to print out people who were on-premise, and if there was an emergency, they would have to be evacuated," says IT Manager Antony Jones. "The problem with this idea was that the receptionist obviously couldn't stay to print while the building was on fire, but had to get out of there as quickly as everyone else in the event of an evacuation." In other words, printing was simply too slow and unreliable in the case of an actual emergency. Instead, Wunderlich-Malec implemented a more complete Emergency Mustering solution, using Savance's Mustering application. "The mustering app makes it much easier, and that's what we rely on for emergency evacuation," says Jones. "It's as accurate as it can be since we integrate with our access control system and use anti-passback."
"The mustering app makes it much easier, and that's what we rely on for emergency evacuation. It's as accurate as it can be since we integrate with our access control system and use anti-passback."
Finally, in order to keep an emergency roster list accurate, visitors and contractors also need to be accounted for "In addition to tracking staff in and out statuses, the receptionist also uses EIOBoard for Visitor Management," explains Ger Thao, Systems Administrator at Wunderlich-Malec. "She signs visitors and contractors in and out, and prints a name tag for each person." The company is currently considering the option of going from a receptionist-managed Visitor Management solution to using custom-branded self-service kiosks where visitors and contractors can sign themselves in, but so far, a managed solution has been sufficient for their needs.
Results & Benefits
After implementing its Savance solution, Wunderlich-Malec can report improvements in areas like accountability and productivity. By integrating the Savance system with the company's 3xLOGIC infinias access control system, along with using anti-passback, Wunderlich-Malec has an up-to-the minute list of people on the premises, staff as well as visitors, something that is imperative for emergency preparedness.
An added benefit is that the receptionist can immediately tell who is in and who is out, and can quickly provide information to anyone who wants to know. "The receptionist has EIOBoard on her screen and uses it every day to give her visibility to who is in and who is out," says Antony Jones. "The result of this is a great time savings. There is no longer a need to hunt people down, which increases productivity for everyone involved."
"When we can recommend a product, and install a product, and then not service that product for months on end, that makes me as an integrator, a service provider, very happy. We know the customer is in good hands."
Westco Systems is also happy. In the 3+ years that have passed since the solution was first implemented at the Wunderlich-Malec headquarters, no service or support visits have been required. "It works great, and that to me speaks volumes," says Aron Caryl. "When we can recommend a product, and install a product, and then not service that product for months on end, that makes me as an integrator, a service provider, very happy. We know the customer is in good hands."
Westco has already sent other customers Savance's way and will continue to do so. "We have recommended Savance, and I talk highly about it because I think it’s a good platform, it’s fairly priced, and it works well," says Caryl. "If there is a need for visitor management or emergency mustering, I wouldn’t look anywhere else."