White Paper

How the Evolution of Video Surveillance Helps Manufacturers

Smarter use of video data can help factories to become safer, as well as more secure, efficient and productive.

Video surveillance technology has advanced in several powerful ways in recent years. This evolution offers the manufacturing industry a number of valuable opportunities that can deliver game-changing benefits. 

Manufacturers no longer need to depend on humans to provide real-time monitoring of cameras and have a tremendous set of analytic resources available to automate the processing of video images. The technology developed during the age of machine learning and artificial intelligence can be applied directly to video surveillance applications. Enhanced video surveillance systems can analyze and interpret video feeds in real time, providing operational awareness of the manufacturing floor and the state of physical facilities. 

Video surveillance hardware has also matured significantly. Firms no longer depend on closed-circuit cameras that provide analog video feeds to analog recorders for later playback. Modern video surveillance embraces digital technology. Cameras now connect to storage and analytic systems using a company’s existing IP network, over both wired and wireless connections. This greatly expands the range of video surveillance solutions in the organization and reduces the cost of new deployments by allowing cameras to be positioned at any location where network connectivity is available.

Video surveillance cameras and systems play an important role in the larger digital transformation efforts of manufacturing companies. Cameras are no longer simply devices that capture moving images for storage and later playback. While they certainly retain this ability, they are now real-time video sensors, creating data streams that may be fed directly into an organization’s digital workflows. In fact, many cameras now come equipped with audio, temperature, humidity and other sensors built in that provide additional data points for analysis. Ultimately, enhanced video surveillance can help manufacturers improve not only the security of their factories, but also safety, efficiency and productivity. 


Percentage of companies that use some form of digital surveillance

Source: businessresearcher.sagepub.com, “Workplace Surveillance,” Nov. 5, 2018 

Enhanced Video Surveillance Benefits

Enhanced video surveillance systems implement next-generation video content analysis technology, allowing organizations to become far more strategic about their uses of video than in the past. Through the use of video analytics, enhanced video surveillance systems detect and classify objects and events in real time, building a structured database of information from the raw video. This enables three key operational advantages: hindsight, insight and foresight.

Hindsight is the most common reason for deploying video surveillance systems. Organizations might need to know what happened at a physical location in the past, and video surveillance systems meet that demand. With legacy systems, users had to manually review recordings to look for events of interest, fast-forwarding through hours of video to find the targeted activity. Enhanced video surveillance systems allow analysts to write queries that define the activity of interest, such as a door opening, the presence of a person in a restricted area or other factors such as clothing color or gender. This shrinks forensics time by allowing the system to quickly identify potential items of interest. Surveillance tasks that would have required hours of manual review with a legacy system may now be accomplished in a matter of minutes using a simple keyword search.

Insight extends the use of video surveillance to real-time applications without necessarily requiring a human being to constantly watch a bank of video monitors. Enhanced video provides organizations with immediate automated analysis of what is actually happening on a manufacturing floor. This real-time insight can deliver important information to decision-makers when it’s needed most. For example, insight from enhanced video systems can alert plant managers to an incident or accident as it unfolds on the factory floor, facilitating rapid intervention.

Foresight is the most innovative emerging application of enhanced video. Organizations may leverage tools such as the Cisco Kinetic IoT platform to apply predictive analytics to data gathered from video feeds. These tools then deliver important forecasts to decision-makers. For example, enhanced video foresight can predict when critical equipment will require proactive maintenance based on analysis of thermal imaging data, allowing the company to handle it as scheduled downtime instead of incurring an unplanned outage, idling the production line or plant. This approach is much more efficient and far less costly than recovering from an unexpected shutdown.

Use Cases for Enhanced Video Surveillance

The use cases for enhanced video surveillance technology within a manufacturing environment are diverse, and are limited only by the deployment of sensors and the imagination of IT and operational leaders. Common use cases involve traditional physical security applications, worker safety and operational management. For example, manufacturing firms might deploy the automated analytical technology of enhanced video systems to:

  • Detect motion in a restricted area, such as entry to a server closet or movement near high-voltage equipment or hazardous materials
  • Monitor the movement of valuable assets, such as molds and dies
  • Identify line-crossing events, such as a worker reaching into an unsafe zone
  • Distinguish unknown faces on a factory floor from employees and partners identified through facial recognition technology
  • Read license plates to identify the vehicles entering and leaving a facility
  • Detect and count the number of people or vehicles in an area
  • Inspect raw materials and finished goods

The beauty of enhanced video surveillance systems is that they empower organizations to achieve two or more of these use cases with a single infrastructure investment. The same technology that provides traditional physical security can also monitor worker safety and measure operational efficiency. These multiple applications improve the cost-effectiveness of capital expenditures and increase the organization’s return on investment.

To learn more about the deployment of video surveillance solutions, read the CDW white paper “How Enhanced Video Surveillance Boosts Manufacturing.”