Burnt Oak Builders Merchants

Security systems ensure outstanding customer service and health & safety

The client: Burnt Oak Builders’ Merchants.

How security system helps ensure outstanding customer service – and improves health & safety too

Builders’ merchants are very busy places, with lots of visitors, warehouse staff and many vehicles coming and going. Additionally, the goods being purchased, delivered or shipped are often large and unwieldly, requiring significant manpower, fork lifts, low-loaders and other vehicles. The whole process could be a minefield of problems for health and safety, management of stock and security. However, with careful, strategic use of the right security equipment, this can be turned from a business challenge, to a finely tuned customer-focused delivery process!

Burnt Oak Builders’ Merchants are an independent, family-owned, non-trade builders and plumbers merchants based in London. They supply a wide range of high-quality materials including timber, flooring, plumbing, electrical supplies, power tools, bricks and insulation. Their operations centre at their 4,000m2 depot and retail outlet in Harrow, with two further satellite distribution hubs in North London. Burnt Oak knows that unparalleled service, coupled with customer satisfaction, is the key to their continued success.

From Security Solution to Business Improvement Opportunity

Burnt Oak wanted to upgrade their existing security system. Initially, they wanted a new system that would provide evidential-quality images, ensure every area of their sites is in sight of one or more CCTV cameras, and allow active monitoring of the entrance to their depot and retail facility.

Amax recommended a phased solution, which allowed them to achieve all of their goals… and so much more. Amax’s specialist consultants designed a system which:

  • Provides high-quality CCTV images, good enough to identify individuals and actions
  • Reduces (if not eradicates) shoplifting and fraud in the retail unit
  • Identifies training needs for staff, by observing working practices
  • Provides evidential quality of images should an incident occur
  • Monitors activity in all areas of the warehouse
  • Helps identify improvements required to health & safety processes
  • Gives multi-site security, all controlled centrally
  • Provides an easy-to-use system that can be controlled from anywhere

Main requirements

Over the period of the project, the client wanted to monitor the:

  • Busy thoroughfare outside their main depot and entranceway
  • Interior of their warehouse, with its variable light levels
  • Retail unit, to reduce shoplifting and manage staff
  • Two smaller distribution depots

Monitoring the busy entrance

The principal entrance to the main depot and retail site is very busy with large numbers of people, goods and vehicles. Additionally, its service road is narrow and provides access for other businesses in the street as well.

Burnt Oak wanted to be sure that this area is continually monitored so that, should an incident occur, there would be a video recording available, which would include recognisable individuals and vehicle number plates. After careful consultation, Amax designed a solution so that cameras would continuously capture number plates of vehicles on entry and exit from the area.

Additionally, cameras would also monitor the loading of all vehicles. This allows the management team to ensure:

  • Health and safety procedures are followed
  • Packing of vehicles is accurate and safe
  • Forklift operators take due care and attention whilst loading/unloading
  • Safety of the public and all road users is maintained
  • The road remains free-flowing, with no major hold-ups during loading

Warehouse security & safety

The warehouse operates with optimum efficiency, so it has a very close racking system with low artificial lighting. Additional lighting is provided through skylights – giving very bright sunlit during the middle of the day to some areas of the depot. This makes coverage by CCTV camera challenging, as they need to see in gloom but adjust for bright light as well.

The narrow-corridors of racking mean that CCTV vision is often obscured or limited. Finally, to avoid breakages, the cameras must be placed to provide easy access for the forklifts to the goods.
Amax carefully selected sensitive CCTV cameras which could cope with the extremes of light and still give evidential-quality images. After a detailed site survey, Amax calculated the optimum number and placement of the cameras – giving 100% visibility of the facility.

Retail Outlet: reducing shoplifting, maximising service

Burnt Oak has a thriving retail unit, which is open to the public. Given its large floor area, Burnt Oak management doesn’t expect their retail staff to effectively operate the tills, offer customer support and be vigilant for shoplifters all at the same time without additional assistance – after all they can’t physically be in all places at the same time! Therefore, a technical solution was required to help them.

Amax carefully located high-definition CCTV cameras and situated the receiving monitors at the long point-of-purchase desk, so the staff can:

  • See every part of the retail site from one place
  • Identify when a customer needs assistance
  • Spot shoplifters for swift intervention
  • Spot shopping patterns and preference, for improved shop layout/design
  • Have easy access to evidential-quality images when needed

The customer service desk has 6 tills, and the monitors have been placed so that they are visible from all the till-points. This makes it very easy for all the staff to be aware of events in the store. This solution frees up staff from walking the store on ‘shop security duties’ and allows them to focus on providing outstanding customer service instead: which is a much more positive use of their time.

Making order fulfilment right first time!

The MD at Burnt Oak wanted to really improve their ‘pick and pack’ process so that errors were eliminated. It is much more profitable to deliver the right goods, in tip-top condition, first time round – this minimises costs and creates happy customers as well. Conversely, dealing with a delivery error is time consuming, reduces customer satisfaction and is expensive (especially if the goods are damaged in-transit). Therefore, making the delivery process slick and efficient is business critical.

Amax’s consultants like a business problem to solve! And this challenge looked like one they could fix. All order requests are logged and then a ‘chit’ is placed on the ‘order’ noticeboard. This board is used to manage the fulfilment process – from picking, then packing, loading onto the vehicle through to final delivery.

Amax placed a high-res CCTV camera in front of the order-process noticeboard, allowing the MD to monitor the progress of each order individually. When this information was coupled with the CCTV cameras monitoring the loading area and with the footage of the warehouse, the MD could check:

  • When an order is picked, and if this is done accurately
  • When it is packed, and if this is to their high standards
  • If it is palletised and whether this is done well
  • When it is loaded onto the delivery vehicle
  • Whether it is stowed safely and securely on the vehicle

This increased visibility has allowed the MD to:

  • Identify staff training needs, reducing errors and improving quality
  • Reduce fraud – both internally and externally
  • Have evidential-quality footage, if it is required
  • Ensure health and safety procedures are always followed
  • Have real-time order status for each dispatch
  • Access management information to ensure continuous improvements are made

The result – a huge improvement in the number of orders delivered ‘right first time’, increased customer satisfaction and a reduction in operating costs. Staff morale has been raised, as they take great pride in their work.

Monitoring from anywhere in the world

Footage from all of the cameras can be viewed using any Internet-connected device, allowing management to work from anywhere in the world. There is a main viewing platform in the heart of operations at the main site, for central management. However, when the MD is out of the country, he can still monitor his business using his smartphone, tablet or laptop computer.

In Summary

This CCTV solution has revolutionised the way Burnt Oak manage their operations. It has helped to:

  • Cut operating costs
  • Improve customer service
  • Increase efficiency and productivity
  • Reduce fraud
  • Improve business planning

Amax’s design consultancy and willingness to think about business solutions, rather than simple security systems, has helped bring about radical improvements – many of which weren’t expected at the outset of the project!

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