The future of security

In 1995 Vector Developments Ltd (VDL) began manufacturing camera and radar stabilisation systems for military, private and commercial use. Brian Chivers, founder, was an engineer whose previous experience in providing sensor and imaging solutions for navies around the world led him to establish VDL technology. It offered clients stabilisation hardware that was fully self-contained and highly accurate for a relatively low cost, initially gaining onshore clients such as Sellafield but soon expanding offshore where most of its clients are today.

Over the years, its product range has also grown into full imaging and sensor equipment. Rather than manufacturing its own cameras, VDL looks at the market and selects the most ideal components for a required system. Brian explains how Vector Developments has used this to build on its roots: “With the success of our initial products, we were encouraged into producing thermal imaging and night vision equipment where through the years we have gained an unrivalled expertise.”

VDL’s primary brand is Seenite, a range of stabilised night vision systems specifically for marine environments. The components are manufactured from 316 stainless steel, carbon fibre or titanium for maximum durability. Systems are protected from condensation with airtight seals, use gas-filled tubes and high quality connectors for optimum performance, and of course use the top of the range thermal imagers and night vision systems. Widely recognised as providing the best cameras within the marine market, Seenite comes in a wide range of sizes that are then further customised to the customer specification. Alongside Seenite are the SeaMoon and Watchman fixed camera products. Any of these cameras can further benefit from straight forward and simple to use custom-built CCTV systems.

Taking these security systems one step further, VDL has spent the last three years developing its Protector system. “We have looked at the ergonomics and effects of strobing lights, longrange acoustic devices (LRADs), lasers, thermal imagers and night vision cameras to see how they could all be combined as a useful technology for protecting vessels from piracy attacks,” Brian explains. “We’ve taken the opinions of organisations involved with piracy prevention, looked at available technology, sorted hype from fact and put together the best system we can. It has sound devices that rattle the brain, flashing lights that nauseate, laser beams that will temporarily blind you, a night vision system capable of targeting you at extremely low light, and a targeting system able to track multiple persons as they approach. The Protector combines all our previous capabilities with products to create a tightly integrated, built-forpurpose defence mechanism.”

As is clear, technology and engineering expertise is a major part of VDL’s fabric. Brian describes the company as a group of engineers rather than entrepreneurs and the lengths to which it goes for it’s products bears this claim out. “To take an extreme for instance, we’re not satisfied with just buying a grease that can work at different temperature ranges,” illustrates Brian. “We want to look at the actual formulation and understand how its viscosity changes with temperature.” This careful approach occurs at every stage of design and creation of a VDL product, reaching even beyond sales with the company providing lifetime warranty and maintenance services for its cameras and arrays. The quality of initial build, however, often means maintenance is rarely needed. Though a VDL product might at first seem expensive, because 70 to 80 per cent of that price is represented by the components and build, its products present excellent value for money.

Unsurprisingly, this type of artisan commitment means VDL is not a mass producer. It builds to order and often in small batches, affording it the opportunity to ensure that every single unit is perfect. It has in the past produced larger volumes – some orders from repeat customers requested hundreds of cameras for a luxury yachts – but by and large VDL is a specialist in its field. Its roster of clients is testament to its passion and quality: the Turkish coastguard, Indonesian Navy, Chinese border guards, and commercial clients including the largest super- and megayachts in the world.

Though impacted by the financial crisis, business in recent times has remained steady for VDL. It has a healthy order book that will support its ongoing research and development (R&D) into new technology and systems Brian concludes with a strong plan for the future: “We’re really looking to push technology and design, using the majority of our profits to achieve even stronger base over the next ten years.”

Experts in technology and engineering
Small but specialist team
Incredible product quality