Panosonic Systems - Security systems for tomorrow.

October 99 News & Events

The formation of Panasonic Systems Company (PSC) through the restructuring and consolidation of Panasonic SA's Business Systems Group, has allowed it to increase its effectiveness and keep abreast of new technology. Panasonic Systems Company, headed by Martin Maddox, has been fully operational with its new structure and management in place since April 1998. PSC offers business and industrial brandname products through four market-focused autonomous divisions. These are: office automation and IT systems; broadcast and TV systems; telecommunication systems; and airconditioning systems.

CCTV products from Panasonic have been available in South Africa since the early 1970s, in those days through Telarama-Redifusion which was in the communal aerial TV and background music business for hotels and corporates long before closed circuit television (CCTV) became popular. As part of the Barlow Rand Group the installation part of the Telarama business was sold off in 1985 and the Panasonic TV products distribution business was incorporated into National Panasonic, also part of the Barlows stable. With the unbundling of the Barlows Group a few years ago the Panasonic Business Systems Group (as it was then known) became a member of the Reunert group, the current holding company of Panasonic SA. At present, Panasonic SA includes Panasonic Systems Company; Panasonic Consumer Company (hi-fi, radio, TV, and appliances); and Panasonic Manufacturing in the Cape.

Panasonic Systems Company's CCTV business, which focuses mainly on security, is incorporated into the broadcast and TV systems division under Director Mags Anthony. This structure is logical, as both activities have access to the sophisticated test and service facilities, as well as the skilled technical human resources needed to provide good customer support. Through the restructuring process, finance, warehousing and distribution have been made purely a corporate functions, removing the costly duplication of these activities, which was previously the case.

Closed circuit video equipment (CCVE): new technology, new goals

As far as Panasonic is concerned the use of the term CCTV is now passé, as it is not representative of the complex portfolio of both equipment and technology in use today. The preferred term is now closed circuit video equipment or CCVE. When it comes to CCVE systems, a major advantage enjoyed by Panasonic is its world-leadership in the demanding broadcast television market (e-tv recently invested in excess of R6 million in Panasonic DVCPRO digital tape format from PSC). Many of the innovative technologies developed here can be applied to the CCVE market. Panasonic is also by far the largest manufacturer of CCVE products, and is one of the few companies which is able to put together a fully-integrated system (including cameras, lenses, multiplexers, and recorders) by solely using its brandname products.

Panasonic has never attempted to adopt the strategy of merely being the cheapest (would you compare a Mini with a BMW?), but believes that the premium paid for its products is justified in terms of the technology, high product reliability and support services offered. The target market is, and will remain, the more demanding applications, where cheaper, less dependable equipment is not an option.

Keeping customers happy means investment in skilled technicians as well as state-of-the-art test and measurement equipment. Like many companies PSC has carefully evaluated outsourcing of noncore activities, and this is now the way deliveries are made. In the case of service and repair of the extensive range of Panasonic products, outsourcing was not an option. In fact, more than R3 million has been invested this year in test equipment and training for the staff of the broadcast and TV systems division.

Over the next few months, PSC intends to build up a stock of loan equipment which will be offered to customers of the service department on an availability basis. The goal for Mags Anthony is to reduce the turnaround time for repairs to less than 48 h. He believes that this turnaround time is achievable, and will complement the already renowned reliability of the Panasonic product range.

The PSC broadcast and TV systems product range

Covering all of the products offered by Panasonic would require a hefty tome, but the range offered includes colour and monochrome cameras, dome cameras, miniature cameras, housings, pan and tilt mechanisms, camera heaters and coolers. All types of lenses, multiplexers, monitors, video recorders (including digital video disk), and installation brackets are also included. The latest digital video disk (DVD) recorders can store more than 40 000 still images on a single RAM disk. The system is programmable to record single shot, time lapse and multi-shot imagery. Multi-shot imagery makes use of image buffering to provide pre-activation imagery.

Panasonic recently launched its Super Dynamic camera, which through incorporation of the latest in CCD technology and a third generation digital signal processing circuit, realises a dynamic gain some 40 times greater than conventional cameras. One of the main advantages of this 21st century camera is its ability to view into areas in the field of view where the image from a standard camera would either be 'bloomed' or too dark. The increase in the dynamic range simultaneously compensates for both degradations and provides a level of image clarity never before seen with CCTV cameras. The Super Dynamic digital camera was the automatic choice for the Tsogo Sun Dome Casino in Northgate, where some 500 cameras were installed and commissioned by Southwest Systems Corporation. According to Tsogo Sun's Alex Wilding 'casinos are not well-lit and finding the right camera for the job can be a gruelling task'. Wilding physically evaluated four brands of camera before choosing Panasonic's WV-CP450.

For those customers looking for a general purpose colour camera, usually available with a resolution of 320 lines, a new product now fitted with a special Panasonic CCD chip offers higher quality at a lower price. This offers full 480 line resolution (50% better than normal) with back-light compensation.

Panasonic also recently launched two full-colour covert cameras, one designed to look like a smoke detector, and the other like a passive infrared (PIR) sensor. The cameras are virtually indistinguishable to the real thing and particularly in lower lighting levels will remain unnoticed by the criminal element.

As an example of a total CCVE solution there is the state-of-the-art, Panasonic Matrix System 500 switching and control system. It integrates with any of the company's extensive range of CCD cameras, time lapse VTRs, monitors and other peripheral products to allow up to 128 cameras to be sequenced on up to 16 monitors. The Matrix System 500 can also be integrated to external devices, including computers and printers, as well as up to 128 alarm inputs. An on-monitor display provides information of the time and date as well as the exact location of the camera in both numerical (eg station number) and alphanumerical (eg hotel pool) format.

Finally, the video monitors offered by Panasonic incorporate all of the knowledge gained from design and manufacture of millions of CRT-based TV systems. They are available in both colour and monochrome (black and white cameras still provide better imagery under lower light levels where colour is irrelevant) with sizes ranging from 140 to 550 mm and horizontal resolutions of up to 1000 lines.

As an additional guarantee of quality all Panasonic products are designed and manufactured in facilities certified to ISO 9001 and those available in South Africa have been certified and approved by the SABS.

The Panasonic name

Panasonic, today a household name, is the brand name for products manufactured by Matsushita of Japan. Matsushita has more than 30 years of R&D behind its innovative TV products.

The future

With the new company now fully up and running, and the right people in the right jobs, the next strategic goal will be to determine what the customer really expects from Panasonic, and to ensure that these aspirations are met. PSC intends to be seen as truly adding value and will continue to ensure that its accredited installers maintain the highest levels of customer service and professionalism in their business practices.

"Panasonic is now better structured to offer companies integrated systems to enhance their businesses." - Martin Maddox, MD, Panasonic Systems Company

"Panasonic is playing an increasingly dominating role in the supply of CCVE to banks, petrol stations and casinos, as companies replace less sophisticated equipment with networked systems which deliver a sharp image that can be used to identify perpetrators." - Martin Maddox, MD

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