John Deere Plows Ahead with Security

By Robert Elliott

Following in the footsteps of other multinationals, such as Procter & Gamble, GE, and ADM, agriculture equipment giant John Deere is setting up an international security network to standardize the way it protects global operations as it continues an aggressive worldwide expansion plan. A Fortune 500 company, John Deere employs about 47,000 people in 160 countries, and roughly 40 percent of its work force is outside of the United States.

“We’re striving for a consistent security approach and standardization of processes and procedures, so we meet a certain threshold of security no matter where we are,” says Allen Steinbeck, head of security for the company, including oversight of its small fleet of aircraft that dispatches employees overseas.

The move, which began in 2006, was spurred by heightened security after the 9-11 attacks and a growing wave of security assistance calls from workers overseas that were handled with increasing difficulty out of headquarters in Moline, Illinois.

The security team decided to divide its worldwide operations into five regions; a regional security manager was hired to preside over each of the regions. They include: Latin America; Europe, including Russia, Africa, and the Middle East; China, covering all of Asia including India and Australia; the western United States, including Mexico and Canada; and the eastern United States including the Caribbean.

Adding the regional security directors, all of whom would be linked directly back to headquarters, represented a shift. “Because we are corporate-centric, and we were traveling out of corporate headquarters to various parts of the world, we felt we needed to move our resources and services closer to our clients,” says Steinbeck.

The countries where the regional managers have been placed are those locations where John Deere is expanding its presence in terms of employees, assets, and facilities.

The objective is to increase coordination. In the past, John Deere’s security systems were run on an ad-hoc basis, with each unit operating autonomously with uneven results. “What one unit was doing was not the same as another,” says Steinbeck. “Some did a good job with their security; others were less prepared.”

To further ensure consistency, the company is implementing a global access control and surveillance system (using Lenel’s OnGuard program). It has installed servers in Brazil, China, India, and Europe, governed by an enterprise server in Moline.

Any new facilities that come online, or any retrofits, are encouraged to switch over to the new system. The system will also be used for monitoring fire and intrusion.

Another of John Deere’s security goals is to connect all of its digital video feeds into this network so that any surveillance images can be viewed out of Moline. Currently video from agricultural powerhouses Argentina and Brazil can be seen at headquarters. Wesley Eller, manager of John Deere’s security systems, explains that John Deere is working with sundry companies to achieve this objective globally. Steinbeck estimated completion of the venture in September 2008.

The experience has taught John Deere that building a worldwide system is far more complicated than installing the same system within one country. Implementation has run into taxation complications, privacy issues, and language barriers, to name just a few of the issues that had to be addressed, Eller says. Regional managers are key to tackling these complications; they assist based on their intimate knowledge of and contacts within their areas.

Besides the five regional managers, two others have been hired to oversee the design, installation, and integration of the Lenel system. The company also has revamped its crisis management plan to ensure that it addresses needs across the global enterprise.

To aid the entire new global security team, Deere is looking to take on an emergency preparedness manager who will be in charge of making all procedures and plans consistent. He will work with the regional security managers to ensure that emergency preparedness is standard, complete, updated, and meets the company’s quality threshold. The ideal candidate will have experience in emergency preparedness planning, great communication skills, and leadership abilities. He or she will report to Steinbeck, who expects to have the newcomer on board by the first quarter of this year.



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