Harry Bartelink was born in Zambia and spent 11 years there before moving on to what was then called Rhodesia where he on completing his senior schooling in Gwelo moved on to work for Phillips in Harare. He qualified with a diploma in light electrical current. Bartelink came to South Africa in October 1982 where he worked for companies such as Coliseum Acoustics, Ohio Business Systems and finally STC. Hi-Tech Security Systems reports on the evolution of the company Bartronics Security Systems.
Bartronics Security Systems, better known as BSS, was started by Bartelink in May 1988 on a part-time basis. In September 1989, after a disagreement with STC, the company went full-time on a shoe string budget from an enclosed veranda of a flat in Orange Grove. From there the company moved to the Small Business Development Corporation building in Johannesburg, with a security guard working in his off duty time as an assembler. Since then the company has grown and moved to larger offices in the SBDC building, and finally, after occupying several offices at the SBDC, Bartronics moved in 1996 to where it is now based in Bertrams, boasting a staff complement of 21.
The original direction of the company was in the automotive security market but this broadened to embrace a wider range of specialist security electronics when the after market automotive market started to shrink.
Says Bartelink, "Our vision of being a security company manufacturing products with a focus on quality and technical superiority instead of price, was the first aspect we looked at. In the years prior to the company starting, I noticed that a large number of products were available on the market which upon closer inspection were poorly designed and had weak points in their circuit configuration.
"I have always believed that when a person presses a panic button for example, that person wants help and no amount of excuses will change the outcome when it does not arrive. Quality and reliability should not be at the expense of price. I have often wondered how many people regularly test their security systems, since their very lives may depend on it one day."
Adds Bartelink, "The second principle of BSS has been to put back something into the society that supports it." Of his staff Bartelink says, "Its great to see the growth of my staff members, from knowing little about security and electronics when they arrive to what they become years later, fully fledged members of the Bartronics staff.
"The staff at Bartronics has always been the reason for the consistent quality of the products produced by Bartronics. The in-house training that is given whenever a new product is developed and put on the production line has resulted in a staff complement which is well versed in technical ability and product knowledge. The aim has always been that happy staff produce a good environment to work in, which produces good quality products," he says.
One of the first products to be developed and produced in 1989 was the company's passive anti-hijack product, a small device which was carried on the driver. As soon as the unit was more than 20 metres from the vehicle, the car would have 1 minute before the engine would cut out. Says Bartelink, "It proved to be very successful as thousands were made."
The next product was the well known miniature pulse counting sonic alarm to go with the anti hi-jack system so as to become a complete alarm/immobiliser/anti hi-jack solution. A basic remote immobiliser was soon produced, a range of which was used in gate and garage door applications because of the product's long range. This resulted in the general direction of the company changing to focus more on the access control market.
Early in 1990 a custom mould was designed and the popular Guardian transmitter was born and has proven to be an important product in Bartronics ongoing business viability. Along with its very good range it was designed with a high degree of versatility in mind. Says Bartelink, "The format used in the Guardian is so versatile, it has resulted in many competitors producing a compatible remote to their own product range. This format has allowed us to cost-effectively produce other products, such as the 81 channel townhouse receiver and the Neighbourhood Watch system, along with the one channel receivers that were made at the time."
Several products were produced during the early 1990s in association with other security companies. One of the most notable of these was the remote operated Smoke Cloak used by Coin Security in its cash-in-transit vehicles. Many armed attacks where foiled with this system. Bartronics still develops custom products in association with other security companies as this has proved to be a valuable method of bringing new products to the market.
Adds Bartelink, "Another milestone for BSS was the development of the legendary Dyno remote control. The format was the same as the Guardian but was SAW resonator controlled. This remote control was at the time the only keyring remote to be able to reach the magical 1 km range. Since it was based on the same format as the Guardian all the products that were used with the Guardian could be used with the Dyno but over a far greater distance. The Dyno has now become the mainstay of BSS as it is the only 6 button, long range remote on the market. Although it is five years old it is still the standard to beat."
With distributors country wide BSS has a stable base from which to grow, whilst the company also exports to many of the surrounding African countries and a few European countries. New products are being developed for the European markets to help the export drive into Europe. Bartelink's view of the European market is that, "South African companies appear to be able to produce superior security products to anything made there. This I feel may be due to the high crime rate here which has forced us to take security seriously."
Some of the more notable new products developed recently include:
p Print Receiver, used for logging and time stamping access to or from premises on a printer when using a remote control.
p Repeater, a fully RF based repeater with genuine receive-analyses-and transmit function to increase ranges beyond 1 km.
p Town house receiver, with individual insert and remove functions.
p Secure-it, a product to protect assets from being removed from the premises for the loss control industry.
p Response Access Monitor, a system to monitor and control access to premises by armed security officers from base stations.
p Alarm Transmitter, a simple transmitter with N/O and N/C contacts and a built in transmit timer for use up to 2 km.
p Battery Charger, a simple charger which just clips on to a 6,5 amp hour battery and has a 16 VAC input and 13 VDC output.
p ProGuard 1, a fully wireless guard monitoring system, the first of many exciting new products for the guarding industry.
p 242 Channel Digital Receiver, a 242 channel receiver with a large display used for panic systems in townhouses or shopping complexes.
Concludes Bartelink, "Bartronics has many more innovative products that are not on this list which will be highlighted in Hi-Tech Security Systems magazine over the coming months."
Says Bartelink, "As BSS has always tried to listen to our customers, we are in the final stages of finishing several promising new products. The most notable of these is the Code Hopping Dyno. The range and quality will still be as always, but with the added security of knowing that the signal sent cannot be captured by code grabbers, used by criminals, and scanning is also not possible. Along with the Code Hopping Dyno there will be several add-on products. Among these is a new townhouse receiver, a new repeater, a new print receiver and new 1 channel, 2 channel and 3 channel receivers.
"All of the products presently manufactured are made to be added on to each other so as to produce any configuration needed, like toy building blocks and this trend will continue in the future with connectivity to competitors equipment also in mind," he says.
Adds Bartelink, "Bartronics will likely enter other fields in the security market soon such as CCTV and loss control. Vehicle tracking, communicator markets? Who knows only time and customer demands will tell."
BSS is also gearing up for the new ISO 9002 rating which it hopes to achieve within the next few months. With Bartronics aiming at the European export market the new products will also be designed with CE approval .
Concludes Bartelink, "Bartronics with its innovative approach to finding solutions to challenges has become a force to deal with in the security industry. Setting new standards will only benefit the industry. This is one company to keep your eye on. Now 10 years on, Bartronics Security Systems seems to have a bright future.
For details contact Harry Bartelink on tele-phone (011) 624 2637, fax (011) 624 2630, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.bartronics.co.za.
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