Are You Kitting?
Some manufacturers provide such products under the names of observation systems or kits, which security dealers and systems integrators can then resell to their customers. Other manufacturers prefer to specify each individual job as a system.
Among the advantages of kits are that the components of the entire system arrive at the same time, says Gareth McClean, director of research and development for American Dynamics, San Diego, part of Tyco Fire & Securityâ€™s Access Control and Video Systems business unit. Pricing of systems also is simplified, he points out.
â€œThe kits are for somebody who has really simple requirements for dome cameras, not for cameras in explosion-proof housings or a large number of monitors,â€ McClean asserts. â€œThey, maybe, have a front entrance, a rear entrance, a safe they want to look at.
â€œIn some cases [the end-user] will [install] it themselves, and in some cases they will pay somebody to come in and install,â€ he declares. â€œThat depends on the personal capabilities of the person installing the equipment, the size of the facility and how much theyâ€™re prepared to spend. Complex systems are obviously going to installers and integrators.â€ McClean thinks people have a tendency to hire installers for jobs with more than four cameras.
American Dynamics sells two types of kits through a major security dealer. The first is actually in a box that can be carried by an installer and includes up to four cameras, a quad monitor, power supplies, lenses, and mounting brackets. It does not usually include housings or a DVR due to size limitations and because these kits are designed mostly for interior use, such as small retail stores. â€œIt really boils down to what physically people can carry with them,â€ McClean explains.
The more complex kits that security dealers and systems integrators would use cannot necessarily be carried by one person, but all of the components are grouped under a single part number and are delivered at the same time on a pallet or in a box.
Although the kits currently are produced for one installing company, McClean forecasts that they should be available through the companyâ€™s regular dealer sales channels by year-end.
Kits Can Minimize Assembly TimePelco, Clovis, Calif., offers ImagePaks and DomePaks that are combinations of different components organized for professional security dealers and systems integrators into selection guides. Several different combinations of cameras and lenses can be prepackaged inside bell enclosures and domes, and such kits are assembled for dealers all day by employees, notes Joe Olmstead Jr., Pelcoâ€™s director of marketing communications.
â€œThe advantages are that the dealer will be able to save time by having this assembled by us and making sure the camera is back-focused and operating as a kit,â€ Olmstead says.
Dealers confer with the manufacturerâ€™s customer service representatives, tell them what they need for a job, and the company assembles the equipment from the factory for the dealersâ€™ jobs.
â€œAll they have to do is install it,â€ Olmstead says. â€œIt saves inventory costs to take this box out to a site and not have to assemble all this equipment.â€
Security dealers and systems integrators still would have to understand CCTV installation to align the lenses, and would need to obtain mounting brackets, cabling and other accessories.
â€œThis would not be a complete observation or observer kit â€“ we donâ€™t do that,â€ Olmstead emphasizes. â€œSome people do. We do not sell to the end user â€“ it may be our customers [do].â€ Distributors also may order kits for their dealer customers, he adds.
Panasonic Security Systemsâ€™, Secaucus, N.J., Ready-to-Go Camera Kits â€œcome pre-assembled with lens, housing, bracket and camera already installed in one unit and tested, so it is very easy for the installer to just take it out of the box and install,â€ declares Keith Kanestrin, Panasonic marketing manager.
The kits are given one price, and savings are not so much over the same components priced separately, but in installation time. The company offers 32 different variations of kits, including color/black-and-white, day/night, different types of lenses and housings, indoor/outdoor and fixed or dome cameras.
â€œWe see kits across all types of dealers and distributors, because itâ€™s easier,â€ Kanestrin emphasizes. â€œIt comes pre-assembled and pretested, and itâ€™s easier to order just one model. We do sell a lot of them.â€
He concedes camera kits are not suited for every type of installation. The company estimates approximately 15 to 20 percent of its camera sales are in kits.
â€œIt definitely depends on the applications,â€ Kanestrin admits. â€œThere are standard applications that camera packages are perfect for, but depending on the installation, it could vary tremendously.â€
Bundling â€“ An Option to KittingSome manufacturers that do not sell equipment in kits often will â€œbundleâ€ equipment to ensure that the proper accessories are used.
â€œWe bundle the power supply so the installer will use the proper components,â€ reveals Ramon Duran, vice president of product development for GVI Samsung, Dallas. â€œWe do that with 12-volt systems. With the polarity wrong, you may destroy or damage the product.â€
Although he thinks kits are too limiting, Gary Perlin, vice president of video products at Speco Technologies, Amityville, N.Y., concedes that his company still supplies high-quality kits for some customers.
â€œWe put together DVR kits of higher quality equipment, not the low-end type,â€ Perlin emphasizes. These include good DVRs, high-resolution color monitors, four good cameras, lenses, mounts and other accessories.
â€œWe donâ€™t put cable in the kits â€“ cable is too limiting,â€ he insists. â€œWe leave the cabling up to them, since weâ€™re working with professional equipment. It is a kit, but it is not a kit in the typical sense of being a kit.
â€œWe do put together kits for distributors, and they know their customers,â€ Perlin notes. Each distributorsâ€™ kits are assembled to different specifications that are used â€œto get people in the door â€“ people very seldom buy the kit,â€ he maintains.
â€œWe sold eight different kits one year ago, and that is now down to two because theyâ€™re in the catalog,â€ Perlin stresses. â€œWe do sell a decent quantity of entry-level [kits]. As long as distributors keep asking, we will do it.
Transmission equipment manufacturer NVT, Menlo Park, Calif., is familiar with the concept of video surveillance kits, although the company does not currently sell any kits. â€œKitting is a way to one-stop shop and sometimes is about convenience more than price,â€ asserts Guy Apple, NVTâ€™s vice president marketing.
Simplifying specification and delivery of video surveillance systems by using kits, bundling or group pricing can help facilitate efficient installations for security dealers and systems integrators, especially those developing their video expertise.
Sidebar: How Your Distributors Can HelpDistributors sometimes have kits assembled for them from the products of participating manufacturers. Other times, the distributor may assemble its own kit based on a dealerâ€™s specifications.
Tri-Ed Distribution, Woodbury, N.Y., has systems specialists that help security dealers and systems integrators put together kits for specific jobs.
â€œTypically the dealer will come in with a specification from his client, and heâ€™ll rely on us to put together the appropriate camera, power supply, lens, DVR and camera configuration that they will need to complete the job,â€ reports Pat Comunale, Tri-Edâ€™s COO.
â€œThe advantage is when he gets out to the job site, he knows everything will work, and heâ€™s not going to have to go back for a part that wasnâ€™t configured in the system,â€ Comunale explains.
He thinks kits are being used by dealers and integrators with long experience and those adding video surveillance to their service offerings. â€œI think weâ€™re getting calls from both kinds of dealers â€” guys who donâ€™t have the expertise in the field and those who do have expertise but are looking for different solutions,â€ Comunale asserts.
ADI, Melville, N.Y., has all sizes of customers for its â€œconsists-ofâ€ kits. These are not usually physically packaged in one box but are listed and priced together as a kit in the distributorâ€™s computer system and can be shipped at the same time.
â€œTypically, itâ€™s a guy whoâ€™s doing some sort of mass marketing trying to sell these systems across the country and have contractors all over the country,â€ explains Nick LaBella, ADIâ€™s director of product management.
The equipment is shipped to a local contractor, who does the installing. â€œItâ€™s someone whoâ€™s looking to do volume using some type of mass marketing â€“ door-knocking, cold-calling, trying to keep it cookie-cutter so the systems are similar and they can train the contractors all on one type of product.â€
Larger installing companies may lease kits to customers for a number of years. Other customers for kits are small security dealers, perhaps those with experience in alarm and fire protection systems who are just getting into video surveillance and havenâ€™t yet developed the in-house expertise to specify systems, LaBella says.
ADIâ€™s â€œconsists-ofâ€ kits frequently feature discounts over the same products sold separately. Kits often include four of any of four types of cameras, an LCD flat-screen monitor and a DVR so dealers can mix and match types of cameras for different lighting conditions. Wire, connectors and power supplies may not be included.
â€œWhat we try to do is bullet or dome cameras â€“ a self-unitized device so everything is built into it â€“ the camera, lens, bracket and housing,â€ LaBella notes. â€œThis is not a standard item for us â€“ itâ€™s just through the course of the year, we entertain offers from vendors to do kits.â€
He estimates ADI offers only about a dozen kits annually. â€œThey are instigated by one vendor, unless I see something that is good, I may have to go to two suppliers, but typically I like to keep it with one supplier,â€ he emphasizes.
That one company should supply a full line of security products. â€œOnce you start mixing in different manufacturers, it gets messy,â€ LaBella maintains.
Most security dealers and systems integrators do not buy kits frequently because the kits do not offer the flexibility in selection of cameras and other types of equipment that they need. ADI is staying away from observation kits that have everything in one box. LaBella thinks they are aimed more at the do-it-yourself market.
â€œOur customers would end up with egg on their faces when the same type of product was available at Loweâ€™s or Home Depot for less money,â€ he points out. â€œADIâ€™s kits are used only by installers or systems integrators.â€
â€˜Baby Stepsâ€™ â€“ Why Some Wonâ€™t KitSome manufacturers prefer more customized methods of meeting usersâ€™ needs than kitting surveillance products.
â€œHistorically, we havenâ€™t done kits because our channel partners are very important to us, and we find that their end customers often need different types of things,â€ explains Robert Siegel, general manager of video solutions for GE Security, Industrial. â€œWe try to work more directly with our dealers, distributors and integrators to see how best to put something together for their customer base.
â€œTo date, we havenâ€™t found high demand for kits,â€ he stresses. â€œWe try to work closely with our partners to find a solution that is right for the end user.â€
However, Siegel did not rule out the concept of kitting in the future. â€œWe would only do it if we were asked to,â€ he emphasizes. â€œWhen our customers call us, itâ€™s not important what the question is â€“ the answer is, `How high?â€™ If thatâ€™s what the customer asks for, weâ€™ll do it.â€
GVI Samsung, Dallas, has kits for consumers but not for professionals.
â€œWe have tried kits [for professionals] before, but the applications are so different that itâ€™s been a marginal success,â€ concedes Ramon Duran, GVI Samsungâ€™s vice president of product development. â€œWe donâ€™t have a professional kit that is going to be successful. The combinations are just too many.â€
Although his company still supplies high-quality kits for some customers, Gary Perlin, vice president of video products at Speco Technologies, Amityville, N.Y., maintains his company is getting out of the most basic kits.
â€œItâ€™s what I call babyâ€™s first CCTV system,â€ Perlin jokes. â€œAs CCTV systems are getting more sophisticated, the kit concept is becoming less important. People want to exercise their options.
â€œIf youâ€™re using industry-standard equipment, not an observation or mini-system, generally everything fits together,â€ he observes. â€œThereâ€™s so many options out there â€“ whoâ€™s to say whether to use an LCD video monitor, or black-and-white or color, indoor or outdoor, zoom or ultrawide lenses?
â€œKits are a good introduction and have a place in the industry, but for professional companies, more and more of us are getting out of it â€“ itâ€™s not where weâ€™re going,â€ Perlin declares. â€œThey used to be a jumping-off point to go to larger systems. My feeling is when you get into higher quality, you donâ€™t want to be locked into that.â€
Sidebar: Unique System SolutionsOne manufacturer has taken a kitting approach to its digital camera system. Each camera is sold with its own DVR.
CoVi Technologies, Austin, Texas, offers the Crystal HD nine-piece system designed to run on a network that includes lens, camera, DVR with 150GB of storage and networking software. Cat 5 cable and a personal computer to run the system are not included, but can be if the customer desires.
â€œThe intent of this is to ease the installation of a fine security system, all as one turnkey package,â€ points out Stuart English, CoViâ€™s vice president of marketing. He maintains that such a plug-and-play approach is superior to having six vendors shipping individual components to the site. The system carries a single price for each camera-DVR combination.
The system appeals to two categories of people, English explains, â€œthose who have high-value assets that they need to get a better handle on protecting,â€ and where the high-definition video quality â€œmeans you can actually recognize people, gaming chips, money, assets, read a serial number or license plate.
â€œThe other category is people with a highly distributed environment, such as a franchised retail operation where you need to monitor multiple sites across the country so you need a network to allow that to happen,â€ he notes. Each camera being directly connected to its DVR keeps bandwidth on a companyâ€™s network from being consumed, he points out.
Another such product is from CCTV Wholesalers, New Orleans, and is called the PC Witness. Various models can be used by dealers to connect four to 16 surveillance cameras directly to a personal computerâ€™s USB port. The PC Witness Pro is a custom-built personal computer with pre-installed hardware and software.
Such systems benefit from professional installation, maintains Bridget Ehrhardt of CCTV Wholesalers.
The PC Witness Pro from CCTV Wholesalers is a custom-built personal computer with the hardware and software pre-installed to connect four to 16 surveillance cameras directly to the computerâ€™s USB port.