Developed and built in Birmingham, the unique, award-winning ‘orange box’ monitoring tool, Sentry Systems is making the workplace more efficient – and safer
Any competitive and forward-thinking business is constantly looking for ways to improve its work patterns, becoming more productive and efficient while enhancing the safety and well-being of the people ‘on the job’. A young Birmingham company has developed a unique, intelligent work study tool that helps achieve all this, and more!
Sentry is a partnership between Brummie, Ewen Rankin, a photographer and videographer of 35 years and Andy Vaughan, a developer and friend from Bristol. Together with support from the Government’s R&D development funding scheme they developed and built a camera-based product that can truly be described as an ‘orange magic box’.
In less than two years Sentry has gone from a simple test at a London Underground site to covering three major sites over last Christmas for Colas Rail and Network Rail with 12 Sentry units on site. All the cameras were designed and built in Birmingham and so impressive has Sentry proved that the company won a top award for innovation at the 2018 National Rail Awards.
Sentry has three main functions – process efficiency, environment monitoring and as a safety camera. It helps businesses in manufacturing, construction and the office environments to improve their processes, accurately measure performance and make the workplace and personnel safer. And all this is achieved in a unit that is the size of the average lunchbox.
SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL
Ewen explained how Sentry came about. “As a photographer, I was thinking around ways of how I could make a time lapse camera last longer. Andy and I got to working on it and we went through a process to develop the idea with our own software and building our own box. There’s always been CCTV or time lapse cameras around commercially but they are big and cumbersome, often the size of a dining room table. Ours is small and more advanced and accurate.”
The Sentry unit takes the metrics from a site with the camera capturing an image every minute. It then takes the metrics and puts them onto the images. Sentry accurately measures noise, temperature, pressure, humidity and dust levels. It can provide a safety cam mode to provide greater quality, all with a verifiable chain of custody.
And Sentry can track vehicles within a mile radius and monitor work personnel, counting them in an out of an active site, providing a project with a versatile and creative safety tool. It can also overlay all its highly accurate measurements of a site onto the footage.
“This is why we call it the most sophisticated work study tool in the world,” said Ewen. “It is unique, there is nothing else like it on the market. When we demonstrate the system to people their jaws drop and the reaction is ‘wow’.” The system’s versatility and flexibility can be seen through its adoption by the rail industry where it is vital to maximise the time on a project due to lines or stations having to close for work. In the past monitoring systems would have been unwieldy and time consuming to set up, but Sentry can have four cameras ready to go in less than 30 minutes.
Sentry saved four hours on a 52-hour programme for London Underground at Paddington and produced a cost saving of a fifth, or £40,000, on HS2 enabling works at Euston station.
Away from the rail industry Sentry has led to a reduction in production time at three major manufacturing lines.
Ewen added: “Sentry is not about time lapse – it is about efficiency and monitoring processes that deliver real benefits to business.” Moving forward, Sentry is looking to be employed by a growing number of businesses while the development process looks at complementary devices for work studies and remote monitoring.