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More Than One

by msecadm4921

There’s nothing new about CCTV systems based around one manufacturer’s products, but distributors have never pushed them and installers have been reluctant. Julian Sharples says why this might be changing.

CCTV systems comprising products from only one manufacturer ‘ single-brand systems ‘ have been around for quite some time. Remember Philips Projects’ They were designing systems for end users based entirely around Philips products when CCDs were just a twinkle in the CCTV industry’s eye.
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Since then Pelco has developed from dome manufacturer to complete system provider, Bosch Security Systems have taken over where Philips Projects left off and Vicon, after years in the UK wilderness, are re-emerging. The most exciting development in this area, however, is the entry of Panasonic into the systems business. The difference with Panasonic System Solutions (as it is now known) is that they see distribution as a key to unlocking the success of the single-brand system solution.
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Distributors have traditionally shied away from the single-brand approach to systems, because it removes the possibility of them selling to installers what they want to sell i.e. their high-margin, own-brand products. They also fear that, by being locked into one manufacturer, their power and control will be eroded. Installers have also tended to steer clear of single-brand solutions because many have felt that their existence relies, to some extent, on the mystique surrounding ‘the black art of CCTV’ to which only they are privy. If it actually transpires that designing and commissioning a complex CCTV system is easy will this render them surplus to requirements, they ask.
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But why a single-brand solution I the first place’ Single-brand benefits are the same in any system. Take the purchase of a new hi-fi system. Route one is that you look through ‘What Hi Fi” magazine and select all the top performing units from a host of different manufacturers and design what you believe is ‘the perfect system’. Problem is, do the individual units work well together’ Do they stack neatly’ What about the cabling’ Performance-wise were they designed to complement each other’ It reminds me of the ‘Super Group’ concept – the idea of putting all the best musicians from the most popular bands together to make an album. The end result is frequently appalling, because although the performances of the individuals are fantastic, they just don’t work as a unit.
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Route two is to select your favourite premium brand manufacturer and buy one of their complete systems. The individual units are guaranteed to perform well together, they stack well and look good, the wiring is made easy and you can buy them all from one shop. No need to leaf through hundreds of magazine bench tests and visit a dozen shops. Purchased, set up and functioning quickly. Job done.
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But wouldn’t it be cheaper to get a direct account with the manufacturer’ In the past it could have been. But with Pelco now opting to sell through Norbain and Panasonic choosing to sell through dedicated systems distributor Systems Center even the manufacturers are starting to realise the benefits of distribution and are unlikely to offer you an account.
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My dream for end users and installers alike is a distributor who only sells systems from one, premium brand manufacturer. A distributor who has been designing systems for years, who probably knows the manufacturers products, and how they fit into a system, better then the manufacturer themselves and who also knows about third party equipment so that when the single-brand system needs to work with other kit – it does.
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Anyway ‘ the dream is becoming a reality, because this month sees the launch of Systems Center a new CCTV distributor dedicated to the supply of complete CCTV system solutions from market leader Panasonic. Or should I say ‘Panasonic System Solutions’, to give it its full – new – name.

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