Ameren upgrade to AMAG Technology’s Symmetry Enterprise and Professional Security Management Systems

4 Jun 2014

All 14 power plants and the corporate headquarters are connected via Symmetry Global.

Ameren Corporation is among the United States’ largest investor-owned electric and gas utilities. Ameren companies provide energy services to 2.4 million electric and one million natural gas customers throughout its 64,000-square-mile territory. Created by the year-end 1997 merger of Union ElectricCompany and CIPSCO Incorporated, parent of Central Illinois Public Service Company, the company grew in 2003 with the acquisition of CILCORP, Inc., parent company of Central Illinois Light Company, and again in 2004 with the acquisition of Illinois Power Company. Ameren companies pride themselves on a long, successful tradition of financial strength, cost containment and quality customer service.

As Ameren grew over the past 10 years, maintaining a safe and secure environment across 14 base load power plants became increasingly difficult. To meet this challenge, Ameren upgraded to AMAG Technology’s Symmetry Enterprise and Professional Security Management Systems. Each power plant operates autonomously utilizing a different Symmetry SMS. The security staff at each plant manages a separate database, yet all 14 power plants, and the corporate headquarters, are connected via Symmetry Global. Employees travel to the different offices, and tying the databases together into one cohesive system provided flexibility. The databases communicate with one another and allow employees from one plant access to another.

Ameren operates in Illinois and Missouri, and must abide by each state’s laws. Illinois is not heavily regulated, where Missouri is. Alarm centers are located in both states to add redundancy to each of the statewide operations. Symmetry Global provides a robust solution accepted by both states.

Ameren has many requirements to follow which include federal and state government standards to track all people at each site whether they are an employee, visitor or contractor. Employee and visitor credentials are issued at each power plant via Symmetry Global. Employees enter via their own gate where they swipe in and out of the power plant. Visitors receive a temporary visitor badge to swipe in and out which is created by the use of the Visitor Management System.

Contractors use a separate turnstile entrance gate at each facility. Monitoring contractors saves Ameren a substantial amount of money by tracking their work schedules. Prior to installing Symmetry Global, Ameren could not verify when contractors were on site electronically, which resulted in manual controls and lost efficiencies. At the end of every week, Ameren now produces many reports that detail each contractor’s attendance record. These reports have helped to eliminate many billing discrepancies and saved the company significant savings as ell as reduced the number of staff to reconcile the statements.

Government regulations and standards require other areas of the company to have more stringent security. Ameren’s energy - trading business markets energy to customers. Mantraps ingress and egress, allowing one person at a time to enter the facility using a conditional mantrap capability where only one reader works while three others are disabled. The passageways are also monitored by CCTV, providing a visual reference. A swipe of a card opens the first door while two-factor authentication is required for the second door. The control of both the process and the individual provides a higher and more stable control of sensitive/critical areas.

For each of the 14 power plants, energy processes are controlled from one control room that is manned 24 hours a day seven days a week. The federal/state standards require Ameren to keep three years of data about who enters and exits the covered facilities.

Ameren also tracks time and attendance by designating certain readers to track time reporting. At some locations, a web application tracks time and attendance. Both systems are integrated into Symmetry Global and the same card is used for time and attendance and access control.

Ameren operates a number of Works Headquarters/ Operating Centers where linemen, trouble men and gas operations are housed. Work facilities are fenced-in using card-reader technology to access the areas by electric sliding gates or man-gates. With inventory/supplies, vehicles and personnel at these locations, it is important to maintain and control access to these facilities 24-hours a day.

As with most utilities the assets on-board are critical to their operating abilities. With the price of all precious metals skyrocketing protection of the assets is critical. With the capability to monitor many sites Ameren clearly improves its efficiencies and reduces costs by utilizing this enterprise-wide technology. When an alarm from the site is set-off, it is routed to a central alarm-center where police are contacted and dispatched. Using Symmetry Global while at the same time coordinating the police response, the alarm center can remotely open the gates assisting with a quicker and more informed law enforcement response. Symmetry Global provides the interface that allows the police to enter without a physical person present. The gates can be opened from alarm center hundreds of miles away if necessary.

Ameren’s Applications Development Supervisor, Karen Summers implemented AMAG Technology’s Symmetry Global access control system and found three key features beneficial to the security of Ameren.

Managing visitors by scanning a driver’s license provides an added layer of security. The driver’s license provides proof of identification, which is a policy in protected areas. If someone does not have a license, they must show two forms of ID, one with a photo. The photo automatically enters Symmetry Global for all security staff to view. A reusable visitor’s label is created that identifies them as visitors. When a visitor returns, they are already in the system and this helps enforce security practices.

Symmetry’s Threat Level Manager option was a capability Ameren could not go without. Although they’ve never had to use it, having the option to lock down an entire building at the touch of a button was a necessity. You never know when a serious security breach will occur.

Mustering was an important attribute to have in a security system as well. Immediately knowing where everyone is in the event of a crisis could save critical minutes and lives. The mustering capability in an evacuation emergency provides the knowledge of knowing who is still inside the building and most importantly, where they are.

“Symmetry Global is so much better than what we had,” said Summers. “From an IT perspective, we have implemented the system in 13 regions (including the headquarters) and each has a separate database. With the old system I had to shut down the entire system if one region went down. Now when I have a planned power outage, the one region can be down and when it comes back on, it communicates as it was intended to do.”

AMAG Technology
T: +44 (0)1684 850977

Challenge House
International Drive
GL20 8UQ
Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire
United Kingdom

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