Running any successful business is a complex challenge, and retail grocery and convenience stores are no exception. Every day, owners and managers in these stores must think about a wide range of items and make hundreds of decisions. These decisions range from product issues (what products to stock, in what quantities, at what prices), to operational issues (staffing, processing transactions, customer service, etc.), to business issues (insurance, finance, licenses, etc.), and much more. This range of topics puts real strains on general managers to constantly juggle all the items competing for their attention.

Surge Protection for Grocery and Convenience Stores

At the same time, these managers also have to deal with concerns about security, theft, and fraudulent injury claims. While none of these are a part of an ideal business operation, they are regrettably part of the real world, and can strike any business location at any time.

To manage these security and business risks, almost all grocery and convenience stores install video surveillance systems. On their own, these systems may not stop events from happening, but they do deter some wrongdoers solely by virtue of their presence, and they can capture a record of what happened that can help answer important questions later.

Video systems are often used to cover not only the retail space itself, where customers and employees can be observed for appropriate behaviors, but also the loading/receiving area, break rooms, entrances and emergency exits, and outdoor resources ranging from fuel stations to the dumpsters. Video systems covering grocery and convenience store operations have been vital to capturing criminal activity to support identification and prosecution. They help address and mitigate unwanted employee behavior, and unwanted customer behavior including frivolous and fraudulent injury claims. In this environment, many managers of these businesses might think it is too risky to operate at all if the video surveillance system is offline!

Today’s video surveillance cameras, along with their associated network equipment and recorders, are sensitive electronic devices. They are usually connected with category-type network cables (or coaxial cables, in some cases) and can be located in uncontrolled outdoor locations in addition to interior areas. This sensitivity and interconnectivity makes them particularly vulnerable to the effects of power surges, which can quietly and invisibly cause damage until the entire system fails, requiring urgent action to bring it back into operation.

Example: In one recent incident, a customer filed a false insurance claim against the owner of a local grocery store. According to the claim, the customer had tripped over a rug at the front door and become injured. He then called out for help and staff found him on the floor at the front entrance with the disarranged rug nearby. No staff had witnessed the incident, so they provided prompt aid under the assumption that it was needed.

Later review of the video recording captured by the store’s front door surveillance camera proved that the event did not happen as claimed – instead, the customer was clearly visible as he carefully arranged the rug to make it appear that he tripped, and sat down on the floor, setting himself in an “injured” position before calling for assistance. Upon being informed of the video recording, the customer immediately withdrew the false claim, but was arrested anyway and charged with attempted petty larceny.

Surge Protection Solutions

If the video surveillance system in the example above had not been working correctly at the time of the incident, the ending of the story would have been significantly different.

For an unprotected video system, the chances are good that it will incur some damage during its lifetime from electrical power surges and spikes. Not every system will be damaged to the point of failure during its service life, but every unprotected system has an increased chance of failure versus fully protected systems. For an essential business system such as video surveillance, which has the potential to mitigate serious liability claims or provide vital criminal evidence, the small additional price for protection should be no barrier. The cost of providing surge protection is typically less than the sales tax on the system.

According to best practices, every sensitive electronic system should have surge protection at its supplied power connection, in addition to the surge protection that is installed at the building power entry point. This is important because damaging power surges can be created inside the building perimeter from inductive load switching, (by HVAC systems, for example) in addition to coming in through the building power connections.

Best practices for protecting sensitive electronic systems also include surge protection at both ends of all connected network equipment, as the network cabling provides a conductive path for electrical power surges. This is vital for cabling paths that run to exterior areas for video surveillance cameras, lighting controls, or any other networked electronics or sensors.

Even in areas with little or no lightning activity, exterior electronic equipment is vulnerable to the effects of wind and rain. Any device that is powered has the potential to create an electrical fault or short circuit that can transmit damaging power surges to the network cabling.

Applicable products for these uses include rackmount surge protectors for interior network rooms, as well as single channel protectors for use at the remote networked equipment. There are even special models that are built for connections exposed to extreme weather conditions. Surge protectors for networked cabling are designed to minimize signal losses while passing high-speed digital network traffic.

The Bottom Line

Grocery and convenience stores depend on their video surveillance systems to help protect their staff, their customers, and their business operations. Surge protection solutions can protect every entry point from the electrical surges that can damage these systems and decrease their reliability and useful lives. With a simple installation process, and very modest cost, including surge protection with new systems and adding them to existing unprotected systems should be an easy decision for every owner.

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