How to make the most of an industrial facility video monitoring system

In industrial facilities, the right video monitoring system can improve operations, increase profit and enhance worker safety

By Heidi Schmidt December 19, 2023
Courtesy: Opticom


Learning Objectives

  • Think beyond security: video monitoring in industrial facilities can go well beyond that./li>
  • Learn how to use video monitoring to enhance safety, increase profit and streamline operations.
  • Understand how to choose the right video monitoring system for an industrial facility.


Video monitoring insights

  • By selecting the correct video monitoring system for the application, a manufacturing facility can manage its assets more efficiently.
  • Video monitoring systems can help with remote and onsite monitoring, maintenance and workforce development.

By now, most industrial facilities have some form of video monitoring in place — a watchful eye to help them spot problems and security breaches. Monitoring can happen via a live feed that is permanently monitored by a remote operator or through recorded footage that’s watched at a later time, or a combination of these two.

Both of these options work and the choice depends on the specifics of the activity. The real keys to making the most out of a video monitoring system lie elsewhere. Use industrial facility video to enhance safety, streamline operations and increase profit

Industrial environments come with specific challenges that differ a lot from those of retailers and commercial facilities, for instance. This is why a video monitoring system can have different applications too.

Video monitoring applications for safety enhancement

Figure 1: An operator running equipment from the safety of an operator booth with the help of Opticom cameras. Courtesy: Opticom

Figure 1: An operator running equipment from the safety of an operator booth with the help of Opticom cameras. Courtesy: Opticom

Each day, 6,000 people die because of work-related accidents and diseases. Each year, 340 million work accidents happen.

Industrial facilities are harsh environments and workers are surrounded by heavy machinery and complex equipment every minute. A single wrong move or a faulty piece of equipment can cause a terrible accident.

Thus, it’s no surprise that worker safety is a plant manager’s main concern. A video monitoring system can help spot improper processes and faulty machines before they turn into disasters.

Here are just a few examples:

  • A remote video operator watching the live feed spots a conveyor belt that’s about to snap. He calls the supervisor and they stop the belt before it bursts.

  • Another remote video operator sees that the workers aren’t adhering to the plant’s safety protocols. The supervisor intervenes immediately and fixes the issue.

  • An item in production gets stuck in a piece of equipment. The backup is stopped before it becomes dangerous to workers and the equipment.

Moreover, if safety protocols aren’t correctly implemented in a plant or that they can be improved, use the recorded footage during employee training.

Video monitoring streamlines the operations of an industrial facility

Figure 2: An Opticom camera mounted outside a sawmill to watch outdoor operations and perimeter security. Courtesy: Opticom

Figure 2: An Opticom camera mounted outside a sawmill to watch outdoor operations and perimeter security. Courtesy: Opticom

Industrial facilities typically operate in highly competitive environments. The plant must stay competitive on price while maintaining quality.

Companies can save a lot of money by improving operations. Video monitoring can help with that. Here’s how:

  • Spot processes that can be improved. Perhaps workers spend too much time moving materials from storage to the conveyor belt. Could the storage unit be moved closer to the production area?

  • Catch potential equipment failures before they result in line downtime. In manufacturing, downtime costs $260,000 per hour. In the automotive industry, downtime costs a whopping $3 million per hour.

  • Spot a potential contaminant about to ruin an entire batch of food —  a vigilant video operator will catch this.

A study released in 2013 shows that 93% of companies that use video monitoring report an improvement in their operations, and this is no accident. A supervisor on the floor doesn’t have the bird’s-eye view needed to notice certain potential threats and inefficiencies. A remote video operator does.

Use video monitoring to increase profit

Better safety and streamlined operations contribute significantly to increasing profit  —  just think about the benefits of avoiding a single hour of downtime per month.

However, proper video monitoring can take a manufacturing plant even further. Consider how plants and manufacturing facilities get to keep more money in their pockets by including video monitoring:

  • Predictive maintenance: If mission critical equipment is due for maintenance work every six months, but an operator notices a slight decrease in production speed after five months. Managers can schedule the maintenance work sooner and improve productivity.

  • Training: Review workers’ performance to improve training. Use the recorded feeds to figure out which areas can be improved upon.

  • Fewer people on-site: In some instances, video monitoring can reduce the number of supervisors or inspectors needed on-site. They can simply review the footage from anywhere and draw their conclusions and suggestions for improvement.

  • Avoid hefty fines: Industrial facilities operate under strict regulations. Even a semblance of nonadherence can land a fine and/or shut down a plant until things are fixed. Use recorded video feed to prove adherence to regulations and, again, avoid costly downtime.

Not all video monitoring systems are created equal

The knee-jerk reflex of most plant managers is to buy off-the-shelf video monitoring systems. They are cheap and very easy to find.

While that’s true, they also come with a very high total cost of ownership. Industrial environments can wreak havoc on the sensitive lenses and circuits in a camera, so systems will be replaced frequently.

Consider the cost of new cameras and their installation, and the indirect cost of lost footage.

Industrial cameras, on the other hand, are specifically created to withstand humidity, high vibration levels, debris, high-temperature variations and more. Consequently, they can be used for years, with zero interruptions and minimal maintenance. Thus, total cost of ownership is lower.

Even among industrial cameras, not everything is identical. The safest bet is to work with a dedicated consultant who can advise a client about which features are needed and what type of ruggedized camera works best for a facility.

Otherwise, plant managers may end up buying cameras that don’t have the necessary features or paying extra for unneeded features. The best way to increase the return on investment of a video monitoring system is to make sure it’s tailored to a facility’s specific needs.

Author Bio: Heidi Schmidt is Global Sales Manager at Opticom Tech.