The Chinese speed dome industry is rapidly upgrading, as manufacturers expand production and R&D capabilities. As part of this effort, more and more Chinese companies are attending big international exhibitions as they eye overseas markets.
The early Chinese speed dome industry was not as developed as it is now, due to high costs, high technology requirements and small markets. But with technology becoming more mature and costs falling, the industry is expanding quickly in China. Moreover, the nationwide Safe City projects give more opportunities for the Chinese speed dome industry, encouraging traditional camera manufacturers to get into the game. There is also heightened demand from banks, government institutions and large commercial enterprises. Recently, Safe City projects are being expanded to cover even more areas such as city centers and highways. Some 10 percent to 20 percent of Safe City funds go to speed domes. As manufacturers earn more, they benefit from added funds for investment as well as improved economies of scale.
The domestic market poses an additional challenge. As orders shoot up, production and quality control processes are having trouble keeping up.
Those players which have managed to take advantage of the new conditions to find increasing success include Yaan, World Digital and JEC in Tianjin; Dahua and Minking in Jiangsu; and Sunell, SAE, HTS and Actiontop in Shenzhen.
Preparation for Global Markets
According to A&S research conducted at the May IFSEC exhibition, Chinese speed dome manufacturers accounted for 26 percent of all Chinese security companies in attendance. As domestic competition heats up, Chinese manufacturers are looking to international markets. They, however, have to overcome negative impressions among foreign buyers, namely communication difficulties and poor quality.
Another issue is certification. Complying with various national requirements is a big investment. Then, there are global standards, such like RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) and CE. ¨Even though the RoHS standard is a European one,〃 said Annie King, Marketing Director at Minking, ¨it has become a common requirement overseas, even if the markets are not in the E.U. We have renewed and adjusted our full-range supply chain to prepare.〃
OEM and ODM is still the main force behind Chinese exports. Many multinationals are showing interest in Chinese speed domes, sending review teams. Such cooperation, however, takes years to negotiate. Jianliang Huang, General Manager of the Overseas Department at HTS, explained that as a professional CCTV supplier, ¨We are expanding our production capacity to take advantage of such opportunities.〃
Better Service and Marketing Understanding
As OEM and ODM work still constitutes the vast bulk of Chinese exports, providing comprehensive services is often not necessary. Given the interest in branding, however, many manufacturers are now starting to realize that they need to improve across the board.
While Chinese products benefit from cheap prices, high-end manufacturers are winning orders with improved service standards. Technical support is becoming more and more important. Services might also include consulting, training, and repair and maintenance. Manufacturers have risen to the challenge. They are setting up branch offices and service centers in target markets like Russia, the Middle East and Africa. As a result, Chinese brands are often the first choice for foreign customers.
¨We are selling our own brand in Poland and Iran,〃 King said. ¨Our customers are seeing a gradual improvement in the services provided by Chinese manufacturers.〃 HTS has been developing mini speed domes, which now account for more than 50 percent of exports. ¨Our mini speed domes meet basic surveillance needs,〃 said Huang, ¨and we still have a strong price advantage.〃
The first speed dome was released in Chinese security market during the mid-1990s. Chinese manufacturers studied and researched international speed domes, producing their own speed domes five years later. Over the past few years, Chinese players have moved to add new features. Currently, auto-tracking is very hot. ¨I think that the future belongs to manufacturers that possess their own R&D capabilities,〃 said Alec Weingart, President at Actiontop. ¨Intelligent functions are really coming into their own.〃 Actiontop is looking to release a mini speed dome with auto-tracking and intelligent analytics.
IR technology is used mainly for day-night speed domes. While the technology is fairly mature, there are still bottlenecks. First, viewing distance is not enough; the second is limited resolution of image. ¨We are trying to come out with a day-night speed dome with laser technology,〃 said King.
¨Client feedback,〃 said Xiangyang Liu, President of Sunell, ¨is a powerful force in technical improvements. Some users have had difficulty with the control software; they find it confusing. Their R&D teams developed new software, which is more user-friendly with a better OSD menu with different languages.〃 This enabled Sunell to improve the design of its 687 series speed domes. The old 687 speed dome had only one plank to hold the camera. After extended use, the center started to shift. Our new SN-687 speed dome, however, has two mental planks on both sides, brand new operating software and a more stable layout. Another issue is mosaics. ¨Our video-freezing technology,〃 said Shaohua Xia, Sales Manager at Minrray, ¨relies mainly on DSP chips to revert images when cameras move at really high speeds from one preset position to another. Users see only clear images, thus effectively solving the mosaic issue.〃
For special needs, speed domes must have much stronger protection, such as against water, bullets, explosions and vandalism. The military, government and anti-terrorism agencies are major customers. ¨Our new products have IP 68 certification to meet these requirements,〃 said Eric Lee, General Manger of LeadEx. ¨Our target markets are special, high-end users.〃
The Tide of Tomorrow
The consensus of Chinese speed dome manufacturers is that the digital, IP and intelligent age is coming. Even though the requirements are not as considerable as discussed right now, but this new tideway will takes the dominant market position in next two to three years. The Chinese speed dome industry will put its R&D efforts into these technologies.