Interview • 03.09.2012
Safety depends on the right project planning and installation
Interview with Ralf Becker, Managing Director Draht+Schutz
Ralf Becker took over the present-day Draht+Schutz company group in Celle, Germany. Today he sees the company as one of the leading suppliers of safety systems. Draht+Schutz has 17 branches and approximately 120 employees nationwide. Electrical engineer Ralf Becker answers our questions about fire, burglary and robbery prevention.
When will you have to rename the company to Funk und Schutz (radio communication and protection)?
Our company name goes back to one of its original business areas of building fences. Although we are no longer active in this area, we will continue to keep our well-established company name on the market – even if today the term “radio communication” from a technical viewpoint is a fitting addition.
Who are your retail customers?
Our main group of customers includes nationwide retail chains. We cover the entire spectrum of stores – ranging from drug stores, food retailing and home improvement stores all the way to fashion retailers. Another business segment of Draht+Schutz is gas station safety; so far, we have outfitted around 4,000 objects in this area. In addition, our third customer group is franchising restaurants.
Does the retail market do enough to prevent robberies and break-ins? What do crime statistics and the data by your store controller reveal?
The number of crimes in retail has largely remained the same for years. Retail primarily deals with thefts in addition to burglaries. Robberies are rarer for larger stores. Smaller chain stores with one or two employees however, face a large risk of being robbed.
Overall, retail’s interest in professional protection is very high; almost 90 percent of retailers particularly focus on video surveillance systems. In our safety concepts, we offer a combination of video surveillance, locking systems as well as burglar and fire alarm systems. Retail is well secured against break-ins. We also see an increasing trend with our customers to use burglary detectors that are connected to our emergency hotline. We generally recommend robbery protection to our customers, since the impact of a robbery on employees is serious.
What are the largest risks for gas station operators?
The largest risks are still the classic fuel theft, employee fraud and armed robberies. Thefts in the store only account for a small percentage.
Security requires more than a just few cameras and smoke detectors. What is especially important in application support?
The main focus is always the individual customer’s requirements and the necessary degree of protection. Retailers should look for an installation company that really follows a holistic approach and does not just want to sell equipment. That is to say, complete solutions including a connection of the safety system to the emergency hotline of the security company is a good idea. Aside from professional concepts, more and more customers especially emphasize one-stop full-service support and rightly so – ranging from project planning to installation all the way to maintenance and service. These days, nobody has enough time to work with different providers on the individual areas of security.
VdS certifies suppliers of burglar alarm systems and emergency control centers. What is important in this case?
The requirements of VdS approved companies are high. Among other things, as a certified company we have to appoint employees who are specially trained in the applied safety features and equipment and also have to regularly provide evidence of this. We have to observe VdS regulations for the installation of burglar alarm systems during project planning and installation. They vary depending on the business. The guidelines for example state how the installation of burglar alarm systems technology needs to take place to guard against manipulation.
Our VdS approved emergency and service control center is also subject to such guidelines, which we have to adhere to. This also includes the protection of the emergency control center against robberies or the protection against technical failure. A VdS approval is an excellent orientation guide for customers in their search for a qualified partner to install their security system.
The technology is getting better and better. Are false alarms therefore decreasing?
Not necessarily. Proper project planning and installation of the safety systems is primarily the deciding factor. The latest technology is always only as good as the specialist that installs it.
Your company started with window grills and steel security doors. Nowadays, security should not come across like a fortress. What does modern building security look like today?
Modern building security today has to provide effective security as well as visually fit with the architecture. Modern safety features and equipment offers many possibilities – for the outdoor area as well as the interior space. Besides optimal security technology, during project planning one should also ensure that upgrading later on is possible. This is especially important if buildings and stores are meant to be remodeled later on. Today we pay special attention when it comes to securing buildings for the installed safety features and equipment to meet the strict data protection requirements. This does not just pertain to video surveillance, but also access control.
Finally, let’s talk about fire protection: what has happened in terms of prevention in the past few years?
The most important development for us is multi-criteria fire detection. This kind of equipment does not just detect smoke, but also heat. On the one hand, this results in avoiding false alarms and on the other hand, this equipment provides high security.
From your point of view, do shopfitters pay adequate attention to fire resistant materials?
Even if we are not able to explicitly check this in the scope of our work and the fact that it is not part of our line of duties, we assume that this is the case.
Interview by René Schellbach, iXtenso.com