- Security TWENTY
- Women in Security
Gratte Brothers Group, a building services company, provides electrical, mechanical, security and commercial catering facility services. Its CCTV, access control, intruder alarm and integrated projects range in value from £25,000 to £1m. The security division operates throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland. Having identified the potential benefits to both Gratte and its customers of switching to IP cameras in early 2013, the search started for a switch manufacture.
After researching the market and comparing PoE switches from various manufacturers, the firm’s test results pointed to TP-LINK. Tests involved the installation of the switches on sites, taking into account total time of installation and ease of use. As a result, Gratte Brothers took the decision to standardise on TP-LINK switches as the backbone to their IP projects.
Gratte Brothers Security Management mainly works with retail, commercial buildings, office blocks, residential areas and data centres, all of which contain high value equipment requiring monitoring. Although Gratte clients monitor the footage of their cameras themselves, the company can manage everything else relating to the systems, including maintenance and upgrades. Shane Garner, Design and Development Manager at Gratte Brothers Security Division, says: “An IP camera can be plugged in anywhere on the network with just one cable, while you need to modify the electrical circuit to install an analogue one. Basically, it is faster, quicker and cheaper to install IP based security systems, and the cameras are more feature rich.”
IP cameras generate savings that reduce the overall project cost, making Gratte Brothers services more competitive. Shane Garner adds: “Because most of our business comes in via tendering processes, being able to pass on the initial installation savings to customers puts us in a very strong position every time. We have found that swapping to PoE is a true win-win situation.”
Gratte Brothers started using TP-LINKs SG3424P (JetStream 24-Port Gigabit L2 managed PoE switch with four combo SFP slots) in February 2013. The team gave the switches an internal trial. For example, depending on the situation and the clients’ technical requirements, the switch could be used as a plug and play device, a web smart or be deployed in its full potential as a L2 PoE Switch.
Gratte Brothers also have the peace of mind that the full TP-LINK portfolio comes with a limited lifetime warranty. “TP-LINK switches offer great value. They are incredibly flexible and use industry switching protocols so they work seamlessly on any network. This means we can replace an entire network or simply a seamless spot solution, plus we don’t have to invest in additional training for our engineers,” says Shane Garner.
The TL-SG3424P provides 24 ports that support 802.3at/af-compliant PoE, with a total PoE power budget up to 320W, suitable the makers say for deploying wireless access points or IP-based network cameras. As for industry security protocols, TL-SG3424P switches offer robust security and management features, the makers say. For example, their IP-MAC-Port-VID Binding and Access Control List (ACL) functions protect against broadcast storm and Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks. Their Quality of Service (QoS, L2 to L4) provides enhanced traffic management capabilities to move data more effectively.
Other benefits offered by the switches include a faster installation process, as they are plug and play meaning they do not need to undergo a complex configuration processes. Gratte Brothers estimates that TP-LINK switches require 10 to 15 per cent less time to set up, it is claimed, meaning that overall installation time is significantly less, reducing labour and time costs, saving money all round.
Also, the switches allow for voice, data and video service integration on one network by applying QoS policies, meaning that the administrator can designate the priority of the traffic based on a variety of means including IP or MAC address, TCP or UDP port number, so that voice and video are always clearly transmitted. For a CCTV system, Gratte Brothers say they seek fast switching, besides PoE and the flexibility to install at least two fibre optic ports – all features included in the latest TP-LINK switches.
Shane Garner adds: “We estimate that we have reduced costs for our customers by 30 per cent, due to reduced overall costs and savings in electricity.” The company also sees PoE results in more cost savings on cabling and labour. With PoE and IP cameras, only a single cable is required, eliminating the extra costs when installing a power supply and the running costs for the user.
To date, Gratte Brothers has installed 500 cameras across multiple locations and vertical markets, all connected to more than 50 TP-LINK PoE switches. These switches are also now part of the company’s portfolio and are bought on a weekly basis. Shane Garner adds: “Gratte Brothers’ brand reputation is based on high standards of quality and service. And that is why we selected TP-LINK’s products for our IP security systems – we need reliable switches that offer the latest technology to support our solutions.”
About the firm
Originally registered in 1946, Gratte Brothers Group the Group employs more than 650 personnel and has a turnover in excess of £100m per year.