Innovative Integrates Gallagher & Dahua For Cymra Life Sciences

♦ Innovative Integrates Gallagher & Dahua For Cymra – Working to a design by Steve Charles of TrendSec Security Consulting, Innovative Controls has integrated Gallagher and Dahua electronic security solutions for medical cannabis supplier, Cymra Life Sciences.

Melbourne-based security integrator Innovative Controls has installed a security solution for Cymra that incorporates access-controlled doors and gates, multiple perimeter layers, including a chain link fence, and a security vault.

These layers include a Gallagher pulsed fence, as well as internal and external volumetric detection, with access and alarm points supported by Gallagher Command Centre management software managed onsite and professionally monitored. The Gallagher solution includes 14 Gallagher multi-format readers and supports GM730 seismic sensors, as well as sensors from Bosch.

The CCTV component incorporates 41 Dahua 8MP external bullet cameras and 10 6MP internal bullet cameras supported by Dahua NVRs, with the cameras providing an additional layer of perimeter protection using Dahua IVA. Gates and man-trap entry points are supported by Dahua video intercoms.

Located in the Northern Rivers of NSW, Cymra produces and sells high quality cannabis products through the Australia Special Access Scheme, with a focus on genetic development and supply. Given the sensitivity of this product and the strictness of its regulation, security is central to every aspect of Cymra’s operation.

SEN has viewed agricultural security solutions before – they’ve tended to focus on access control of key entry points, protection of secure buildings using mechanical locks, and alarm systems, as well as video surveillance coverage that provides a deterrent and facilitates investigations after the event.

But according to Steve Charles of TrendSec, the Cymra system, protecting a compact 4-hectare site, is very different. Here, perimeter security is paramount, with the goal being to ensure that no one can gain access to the site, except through access-controlled entries. Physical barriers deter and deny intrusion attempts, while electronic security systems provide layers of protection, detection, monitoring and response.

The protection starts at the outer perimeter, and continues through to the inner perimeter, which is a tall chain link fence, on the inside of which a Gallagher pulsed fence acts as a proactive deterrent, as well as monitoring intrusion attempts through zoning. This internal perimeter is also protected by IVA line crossing handled in real time by the Dahua surveillance solution, which provides a way for management to check out perimeter alarm events in real time. Meanwhile, alarm sensors protect internal spaces inside buildings, as well as keeping watch over the greenhouses.

The key here is that every aspect of the Cymra Life Sciences site and business procedures must meet the requirements of Australia’s Office of Drug Control, which outlines the physical security requirements of THC production in fine detail. These requirements must be met as part of the licensing process for cannabis production.

As Charles points out, the stringent ODC guidelines aren’t Class 5, but are at a seriously elevated level, covering perimeter protection, alarms, access control, CCTV, storage, monitoring, response, security procedures and plenty more. Taken as a whole, the guidelines are designed to conform to the 5 Ds – deter, delay, deny, detect and defend.

Importantly, this level of security doesn’t only apply to the site and its assets, but also to the security of cannabis plants and product on site, or in transit. The regulations state that cannabis must be secure, that loss or theft is immediately reported, and that access to the premises and its facilities must be carefully managed.

As part of the licensing process, producers are required to report the security solutions they have installed to secure a facility, as well as detailing procedures and strategies they are enlisting to “prevent, monitor, detect and record unauthorised access to the location, premises or facilities; and the cannabis plants or resin at the location, premises or facilities”.

The requirements insist the site must be designed and maintained to deter intruders, to reduce access to cannabis, to be well lit, to have an intruder resistant physical barrier with 2 layers of climb-proof fencing, and to ensure cannabis be contained in a separate secure room that is securely locked.

The Cymra Application

When Cymra bought the property in 2019, it had a house and some small sheds and a 6000 square metre greenhouse that had formerly been a Cycad farm. In the earliest stages of development, Cymra built the 200sqm pilot building, which now houses research facilities, secure areas and office space.

“The civil engineering work began in the middle of 2021 and involved site works, as well as the construction and fit out of an additional greenhouse,” Cymra Life Sciences project manager, Scott Ramsay says. “Part of the process of developing the site before cannabis production was installing the security solution.”

According to Ramsay, securing the site was a process, in part because the Office of Drug Control regulations and recommendations are complex and were not familiar to initial consultants.

“Our first consulting firm created a highly secure (Class 5) solution for us that was simply not applicable to the scale of our operation,” Ramsay explains. “This came to light when we took that designed solution to market and found security integrators were unwilling to even take the time to quote. At this point it was recommended we find a consultant who understood the regulations and have them look at our site, then map out what was required.

“We needed a consultant who could interpret the ODC recommendations and regulations, would come to our site, look at our situation and operation and then tailor a system that fully met ODC requirements and our operational needs – that consultant was Steve Charles of TrendSec,” he explains.

According to Ramsay, the importance of security to the Cymra operation is not only about protecting site infrastructure – medical cannabis is a high value product and there is significant research being undertaken to enhance production using the most vigorous strains – all this needs to be protected.

“And on top this there’s the reputation of the business to protect – if someone broke in and damaged equipment or pulled up plants it might mean we could not fulfill contracts,” he explains.

System & Operation

Something the Office of Drug Control makes clear in its recommendations is that the design of any cannabis site should consider security as an end-to-end process. And the team at Cymra, including its contractors, TrendSec and Innovative Controls, have done just that.

According to Charles, when you’re producing medicinal marijuana, there are standards that you need to meet in terms of security procedures, as well as licenses, that come into play.

“The ODC requirements are stringent and required a careful system design that took all the ODC’s overlapping demands into consideration,” Charles explains. “The site was initially being operated under a research license, but as it evolved and Cymra applied for a licence to produce THC crops, that’s when the full security system came in.

“This included electric fences, an access control and alarm system, video surveillance with line crossing analytics and more. A Gallagher 6000 controller with Security Command Centre management software is the overarching access control and alarm system – it handles management and reporting of alarm inputs, door and gates controls, takes care of events and manages events from the pulsed perimeter fence.”

“Meanwhile, a Dahua surveillance solution, comprising more than 50 cameras, is built around NVRs with analytics at the edge, local monitoring of video streams and remote access via the Dahua iDMSS app.”

In terms of the daily operation of the site there are 12-18 staff on site during a 24-hour period, with some working in administration, some in research, and others involved in looking after the crop. According to Ramsay, each staff member has an authorisation level, with management having access to every area and other staff authorised to access their own work areas – for instance, research, or the growing area.

From an operational perspective, Ramsay says security is applied in layers – there’s a primary access gate in the outer perimeter fence. Access past this point is access controlled, requiring an authorised credential in the case of a staff member or contractor, or being buzzed in by management or administration staff as a visitor.

Once you’re past this layer, you reach the car park and visit reception, but the second and more robust perimeter layer – a chain link fence with a multi-strand Gallagher pulsed fence whose posts are designed to collapse around vehicles is mounted inside it – is still to be negotiated via an access-controlled and video monitored man trap.

Access from the sterile zone inside this second perimeter layer to the secure pilot building is also access-controlled and under constant surveillance. And access through the pilot building is also subject to further access control, adding additional layers of protection at each entry point. As we negotiate our way through all these layers, I’m strongly reminded of a Grade A1 security monitoring centre.

The overall security system is managed via a workstation in a secure location. This dual-screen workstation gives management fingertip situational awareness across the site. A Gallagher Command Centre graphical site plan offers an intuitive and holistic view of the site and its security state at a glance.

You can drill down through icons or skip over into the alarm or cardholder viewer quick as a wink – reporting and admin functions are also ready to hand. And according to Ramsay, if there’s an event when management is on site, they can react immediately to events that come up in the alarm viewer.

“After hours alarm events are reported to an external monitoring station – we’ll get a call from the monitoring station if there’s an alarm from a sensor of from a zone of the fence,” Ramsay explains.

“For instance, in a recent storm the security monitoring team called to advise we’d had an alarm activation on zone 4 of the fence. I was able to call up the Dahua cameras on my iDMSS phone app and view that section of fence and see the cause of the alarm – a tent being used by our staff as part of research had been blown against the fence by strong winds.”

According to Charles, alarm events at the perimeter are also picked up by edge IVA in the Dahua cameras and events can then be viewed by management.

“The CCTV system is set up with line-crossing analytics, as well as scheduled motion sensing on all the cameras,” Charles explains. “This gives layers of reporting at and inside the perimeter. For instance, if someone tries to scale a fence as well as an alarm being received from the Gallagher system, the cameras will report line-crossing – the security system reports alarm events locally and to the control room simultaneously, while CCTV events are reported as notifications to management.”

It’s also possible to open doors using the Gallagher app from authorised devices and Ramsay points out that this is particularly useful when it comes to opening internal gates to facilitate deliveries. Another useful feature is that should the intercom at the front gate ring out at the office it will be transferred to an authorised mobile phone and the front entry can be controlled from the same app.

Walking the Cymra Site

At this point in our visit, we’ve negotiated the front gate with its Gallagher multi-format reader, and been registered at the reception desk, and we’re viewing the second line of defence – a compact internal perimeter.

“You can see that behind that high chain mesh fence is the Gallagher pulsed fence, which is higher at the top than the mesh,” explains Charles. “Having the pulsed fence behind and above the chain mesh makes this internal perimeter extremely difficult to get over.

“At the same time, any attempt to approach and breach this fence line will already have generated line crossing alerts from the IVA in the CCTV system and that’s before intruders reach any of the buildings or other structures on the site.

“It would be extremely difficult to get access to the sterile zone of the site without a response long before secure areas were reached. Further, the secure building has layered walls with antitamper fittings, monitored entry points, volumetric and seismic detection, 6 secure rooms, a vault and a safe.”

We head through the man trap and troop through the multiple entries of the pilot building. The workstation in its secure room is adjacent to the network rack, which includes switch, NVR, UPS and comms devices, with the Gallagher F32 dual circuit fence controller located underneath it.

As well as the security workstation, there’s a lab, a drying room, a vault, an alarm-protected safe, and a range of other facilities in here that need additional layers of security. Hardware protecting these secure spaces includes Vanderbilt GM 730 seismic sensors, Sentrol 1078 steel door contacts, Padde ES2000 door strikes and FSH mag locks on adjacent gates.

As Charles points out, the Innovative Controls integration team has done a great job of the install – the physical components are very tidy and the way the Command Centre interface is set up makes operation of the system very easy. Only a handful of clicks are required to manage and monitor core functions, and there’s easy access to the site map and the alarm viewer. From this location situational awareness across the site is excellent.

We head down to the greenhouses – one of these is original and bays have been added to either side, with an additional greenhouse more recently added. Another 1000sqm greenhouse is in the works. These facilities are substantial, with multiple spaces, each with a particular role to play in research, or in the life cycle of current crops, which I fail to avoid being overly interested in. Ramsay points out that the THC sections require more complex security coverage and have sensors and cameras watching over them.

What’s unusual about the alarm system at Cymra is that detection zones are pushed outside the 4 walls of protected spaces and into rugged agricultural areas – these are covered, but they are still subject to heat, drafts, dust, moisture and insects. The first thing I notice in the greenhouses is that there’s plenty of strong filtered sunlight, which is going to challenge sensors and cameras.

It’s also a warm environment, which demanded a sensor choice combining PIR and microwave support. Charles specified Bosch Blueline Tritechs and the big Bosch BOS-DS720I Long Range Tritech – the latter being a monster with detection options of either 27 metres x 21 metres or 4 metres x 91 metres, depending on which mirror optics you install during commissioning.

These greenhouses are large, and the built space is complex, with extensive metal structural components, cable conduit and risers, layers of shade cloth, flapping polyethylene, pendant lights, large fans – there are even smaller greenhouses inside larger greenhouses.

While the application is tough, in some ways the agricultural nature of this part of the site simplified device install – you’re not fishing cable behind walls in an application of this type – heavy or vulnerable cables get conduit, 4-pair gets cable-tied. Troubleshooting zone loops with a Hall Effect meter would be a snap.

As we move through the facility watching Cymra’s horticultural team going about its work, it’s easy to see this a highly productive use of land. The process is intensively managed as befits the high value of the crop. Ramsay points out that in the growing area there are 156 plants in each bed per cycle, with 4 cycles, per bed, per year.

These numbers make it easy to see how productive a relatively small growing space can be when it comes to medical cannabis supply – the site, although compact, retains considerable scope for further development, and this will impact on key parts of the security system, with additional cameras and sensors likely to be required to meet ODC regulations.

Conclusion

Cymra Life Sciences has a highly capable electronic security solution cleverly designed to meet the complex requirements of the Office of Drug Control, as well as to adequately support the operations of the Cymra team.

This system delivers the highest security levels we’ve seen outside of corrections and defence, and making the installation more complex, it was undertaken on a live site that continues to evolve – as Ramsay says, the Cymra facility has been a construction site for 18 months and it seems likely to continue this evolution for the next 12-18 months at least.

Something that’s noteworthy about this system is the level of security it manages to deliver without impinging on operations around the site – in part that reflects the nature of operations at Cymra, but another factor is the very strong perimeter protection and the layered protection. Anyone who gets through those multiple defensive layers without setting off an alarm is meant to be there.

Something else to note is that the ODC recommendations aren’t restricted to electronics – they underscore integration between systems and procedures. This is a key element of any site, but that this juxtaposition of high security, situational awareness and operational simplicity emerges so clearly from the Cymra application is a credit to its design, as well as to the vision of Cymra management and the work of the integration team.

Fact file:

Products deployed at Cymra include:

* 41 Dahua 8MP external bullet cameras
* 10 Dahua 6MP internal cameras
* Gallagher Series 6000 controller
* Gallagher Command Centre software
* 14 Gallagher multi-format readers
* Gallagher pulsed fence solution
* Vanderbilt GM730 Seismic sensors
* Risco Outdoor Sensors
* Bosch Blueline Tri-Tech sensors.

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