Heras transforms from fencing manufacturer to tech-driven security innovator.
Around the world digital technology is transforming the perimeter security industry. Netherlands-based Heras, known across Europe for its physical perimeter protection, has capitalized on this shift and has seen a 500% increase in sales of its technology-driven solutions.
Digitalizing perimeter security
Perimeter security typically conjures up images of tall, rugged steel fencing with access controlled through heavily guarded gates. That’s still often the case, but only part of the picture. Just ask Heras. This 70-year-old perimeter security company, long recognized across Europe for its steel fencing and gates, has seen the industry move to more digital solutions. And Heras quickly transformed its business to capitalize on this trend. In fact, in 2020 the company installed far more digital solutions for perimeter security than it did fencing, boosting technology-driven solutions by more than 500%.
Martijn Leertouwer, product manager for Heras, explains, “Everything is going digital. In the past, a security guard watched closed-circuit TV monitors and pushed a button to issue an alarm. Now our fence detection systems have location awareness, like a smart phone that can detect within a meter where a break-in is being attempted. Perimeter solutions are also integrated into a central security management system. Now guards sit behind computer screens instead of CCTV monitors and alarms are issued automatically. It’s a huge change from old-fashioned switchboards and buttons.”
Intelligent, automated fence detection is just one of many digital advancements in the perimeter security business. Today, Heras provides a wide range of next-generation digital security solutions, including biometric access control, automated license plate recognition (ALPR), digital cameras, and perimeter laser scanners. Imagine a smart laser continuously scanning all sides of a building and instantly identifying a human trying to gain entry while ignoring non-threats such as animals.
“We have customers like hospitals and office buildings where we don’t install a single meter of fencing,” Leertouwer notes. “We secure the site entirely with digital technologies.”
Robust technology foundation
For each customer, Heras builds its own private network and data infrastructure—there is no connection to the internet or any external network to avoid the risk of cyberattacks. Some installations are highly complex involving multiple systems, such as digital cameras, access control, and perimeter detection, all networked together and sometimes integrated with other business systems. For example, access control may be integrated with an organization’s HR system to streamline onboarding of employees and ensure access privileges are promptly revoked when a person leaves the organization.
The underlying infrastructure for these critical digital security systems must be stable, with a service life that extends many more years than typical IT infrastructures. Leertouwer says, “Our customers don’t want to hear about replacing their servers every three years. They want five, maybe ten years of life. And server stability is key. A high-security environment needs to be online every hour of every day, year after year, without fail.”
In a security world now dominated by technology, such demands require strong partnership with trusted technology providers. That’s why Heras participates in the HPE OEM program and works with its trusted local partner, ACES Direct, for product acquisition and solution integration.
Seeing is buying
To highlight its advanced technology-driven perimeter security solutions, Heras built a state-of-the-art customer experience center— powered by Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Aruba
technologies. In this interactive space, customers get direct, hands-on experience with nearly all the solutions Heras offers. They can attempt to scale a fence and see first-hand the instant detection and automated alerting system in action. A miniature car demonstrates the company’s ALPR capabilities. Customers can experience the latest access control systems and even the game-changing laser scanning technology. Leertouwer says, “We have a Dutch saying, ‘Seeing is buying.’ Our experience center is a big sales enabler for Heras. In one place, customers
can see how we’re transforming perimeter security.”
Streamlining time to market
Becoming an OEM partner with HPE was a crucial step for Heras, not just for gaining highly stable technology products, but also better global price stability. That’s important because most projects involve a public tender and decision cycles can sometimes be many months long. Heras can’t afford to have pricing changes between the time it submits a proposal and when the customer decides. Moreover, now that Heras is expanding to markets outside its home base in the Netherlands—to date including Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and the UK—global warranty service is essential to ensure continued customer satisfaction.
Leertouwer remarks, “Being an HPE OEM partner helps ensure that the price we quote is the price we can deliver. Because we are now doing business in multiple countries, we can also assure all our customers of getting consistent, high-quality technical support from HPE.”
Time to market is another critical factor for Heras, especially since every customer installation is unique.
To streamline solution delivery, the company has standardized six pre-established server configurations based on the most common customer workloads. Each server configuration is built on either HPE ProLiant DL360 or DL380 servers and delivered in a closed, secure network using Aruba technology.
Leertouwer points out, “Having standard server profiles makes it easy for us to order and shortens the overall time to deliver our end solution to customers by 75%. We also reduce inventory costs because we have one base platform to stock for servicing customers.”
Partnership enables innovation, competitive strength
As digital transformation continues to dominate the perimeter security industry, Heras is on the leading edge, driving innovation whether in laser technology, or advanced analytics on digital video images to detect anomalies the human eye might miss. For example, the company is currently developing a technology solution to detect breaches to digital cameras located in public places like parking lots.
While these digital cameras—like all Heras perimeter security solutions—are on a closed network, clever perpetrators could attempt a network break-in through the cameras. However, they would not get far. Heras will not only detect the breach instantly, but it will occupy the perpetrator with decoy video footage until the guards arrive. The true integrity of the network and its data is fully preserved.
For solutions such as these, and others yet to be imagined, Heras requires the latest computer technologies. That’s where ACES Direct and the company’s OEM partnership with HPE play a key role. Leertouwer notes, ACES keeps us up on the very latest technologies in the pipeline from HPE. If we need systems for a new solution we’re developing, “we can count on ACES and HPE to respond with the right technology to meet our needs. This partnership helps strengthen our position in the market and ultimately enables us to give our customers better service.”