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Pu-TAY-toh? Pu-TAH-toh?
At Idahoan Foods, There’s No Question about How to Say 
Enterprise Access Control


PDK Case Study Idahoan Foods

Idahoan Foods manufactures the iconic brand of dehydrated potato products displayed prominently in grocery stores everywhere. Just add water, and Idahoan potato flakes transform into delicious dishes that taste like they’re made from scratch. Idahoan potatoes’ impressive flavor is the result of equally impressive industrial operations. The company’s manufacturing plants, R&D facilities, warehousing, and corporate offices are spread across the state of Idaho.


Idahoan Foods logo

Scott Rashcke, Environmental Safety Manager at Idahoan, is responsible for keeping all of the company’s facilities secure and safe places to work. “My job is to make sure that everyone who comes to our properties goes home in the same condition in which they arrived,” he says. “Between employees and contractors, we’re talking about approximately 1500 people. We operate 24/7, with three shifts, and we’ve got to know who is coming and going. Also, because we manufacture food products, we must maintain compliance with many different regulatory agencies’ standards. There are sensitive areas throughout our buildings where most people aren’t allowed – places like chemical cages, our maintenance shop, and the MCC rooms that house the equipment vital to our plants’ operations.”


Maintaining such a high level of security is no easy task. Chet Taylor, President and CEO of EVO Smart Security, recalls winning the bid to update the company’s security systems. “When we started working with Idahoan several years ago, there was no standardization, no centralized management, and keeping doors operating correctly and user permissions current was labor-intensive,” he says.

“They needed an enterprise system consistent across the board, one that would be simple to manage and provide the company with a blueprint for implementing security technology moving forward,”

EVO recommended ProdataKey’s mobile-first access control solution, leveraging PDK.io software and PDK RED high-security hardware.

EVO Smart Security

Jim Bramlette, Idahoan’s Senior Network Engineer, says, “The PDK system promised to give our team a better perspective of what was going on. We decided to test it in a few locations, and if it delivered as promised, we’d make it our standard access control solution.” Today, the company uses PDK across all its facilities.


WIMAC wireless connectivity

The Installation

One of the key reasons EVO recommended PDK’s solution for the Idahoan project was its wireless application. “These buildings are humongous,” Taylor explains. “If we had to home-run everything back to the IT rooms, this project would have been incredibly labor intensive, probably tripling the cost.” PDK controllers offer wired, wireless, and PoE+ connectivity and can be mixed and matched within the same network. “The vast majority of the system is wireless, but in a few areas with new construction, we pulled wire,” he says.


Rugged Readers keypad

The system also utilizes a lot of ruggedized readers. “We did this for many reasons,” Taylor elaborates. “Esthetically, they look better. They give users the ability to use a PIN or swipe. Most importantly, the conditions inside the plants would damage a traditional reader. The devices take abuse from steam and particulates in the air. The ruggedized readers can take a beating.”


Each building features its own cloud node that connects the property’s hardware with PDK’s cloud platform. The system’s controller continuity feature, built into each device’s hardware, ensures the system continues to allow and deny access in case of communication failures. Through the PDK software, Bramlette and Taylor can see the last time each controller synchronized with its cloud node. When communication issues occur, the master database automatically updates once the problem is resolved.


Idahoan Foods wide iso

System Management

“The other main reason we knew PDK was right for Jim’s team was the platform’s flexibility,” says Taylor. “The plant managers wanted a system they could interact with in exactly the same way whether they were using it on a desktop, laptop, or phone. They loved the reports the software could generate. They liked the ability to create groups and rules. Going with PDK was a no-brainer.”

issue credentials

Bramlette says that plant managers at each facility can add and remove card users and control door settings. He can also handle those responsibilities when they're out sick or on vacation or work with EVO to investigate any site-specific problems.

"If there are network issues, we can get the system up and running 100%."

One of the unique personnel challenges facing Idahoan is the large number of contractors it works with. “Our employees have different access times than contractors,” explains Bramlette. “For contractors, we set their permissions up with specific activation dates and times, and we can quickly turn them on or shut them off as needed. I’ll get a phone call saying that a particular contractor will be on site for this many days, and we’ll go into the system and turn that person on with temporary access. As soon as they’re done, their credentials stop working. Similarly, Bramlette can provide employees temporary access to locations different from where they usually work.


Create Schedule

“Having accountability of what is happening in the facilities, using a global cloud-like configuration, is great,” says Bramlette. “I might get a notification on my phone that ‘Gary’ accessed a door at 9 AM, and – okay – that’s an allowed thing. But ‘Marie’ tried to get in and was denied. Then, I can investigate what happened. If she legitimately needs to get in, I can open the door remotely for her. Periodically, we'll pull reports that show us if we need to adjust timeframes or if there are other issues we need to address, like someone consistently attempting something that isn't permitted.


Control from Anywhere, Any Time

Bramlette uses the computer and mobile interface interchangeably, each about 50% of the time. “I get a lot of little requests at all hours of the day and night, and it’s often easier to use my phone to respond to those,” he explains. However, if I’m setting up something big, like changing timeframes and use of doors, I’ll do that on the computer.

PDK.io Platform

“A really nice thing about the PDK system is that I don’t have to go to each individual door to make changes. I don’t even have to be at the facility! With our older systems, I had to punch in a code right outside whatever door I wanted to adjust. Now, I can change any door's settings, regardless of where it's located, right from my phone or computer.


remote unlock with technician going through a door

“It’s also handy to be able to unlock doors remotely, either locking or unlocking them. For example, our receptionist is usually at the office from 8 to 5. However, sometimes she wants to go home early. On those days, we can change the front door status from “auto open” to “closed” at 4:00, and she can leave.


“Recently, we needed some work done in one of our server rooms. We tightly control access to those rooms. I was able to remotely unlock the door so that a worker could install fire protection, just giving them access for the hour that they needed to be there. The system is very efficient to manage and easy to use while improving our overall level of security.”


Multi-site

A True Enterprise Solution

With the introduction of PDK.io 2.0, the latest software release, all Idahoan employees and contractors can exist in a single database, regardless of where they work, and Bramlette’s administrative team can control all doors at all locations as a single system.

“Having all the users under one database will make managing access across our five facilities even easier,”

says Bramlette. “Although employees already use the same card for all our buildings, people like myself, who need access to all five facilities, will now be entered into the system just once. And, of course, doing the cleanup when somebody leaves the company will be greatly simplified. When we deactivate their credentials, we know we’re covering all the bases – there aren’t any locations where we might forget they had access.”


“The scalability of PDK’s technology, combined with its flexibility, intuitive interface, and the reporting it provides, make it an ideal system for installations of any size,”

Taylor says. “When EVO started this project with Idahoan seven years ago, we had never done a project on this scale. At the time, we only had two guys installing for us. The fact that the company wanted to start small and scale up was perfect. As we’ve seen the system evolve into a true enterprise solution, the features we use to support, configure, and help Jim manage the system have only improved. And today, with close to 500 technicians nationwide, and seven here in Idaho, we look forward to helping many other companies, including those with multiple locations, eliminate the type of headaches that Jim, Scott, and the others on his team were dealing with.”


PDK.io showing Multi-site on a map

“I’m working with a customer right now that has 48 locations. They’re asking why they should use PDK instead of other brands. I have a long list of reasons. It’s great to install. It’s simple for the end user. And a new hire can get trained very quickly on how to use it – which is incredibly important with so much employee turnover these days. When you hire someone, you just assign them to a group, and the rules and settings are already in place. In my opinion, PDK is head and shoulders above anything else out there.”


The folks at Idahoan concur. Bramlette gives PDK, as well as the team at EVO, an enthusiastic thumbs up. “It’s been a very positive experience for us. EVO keeps us informed of new features and capabilities, and we’re constantly changing things up to improve or expand the PDK system. We have an excellent partnership.”


 



Idahoan Foods Case Study


 

Idahoan Foods Video Case Study


PDK + Idahoan Foods






BAP episode 66


EVO Smart Security joins the Big Access Podcast to talk about installing an enterprise access control system at Idahoan Foods.




 


ProdataKey is a team of security integrators with decades of hands-on, in-the-field experience.

PDK believes that the best technology is created by professionals who know what it takes

to secure a facility properly and provide the end user with a solution that instills confidence

and safety.


PDK is passionate about creating technology to enhance the security, safety, and overall

experience of both the professionals installing electronic access control and those that live

with and use the system. PDK continues to create technology every day to enhance its

products and the products of its technology partners.

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