Intrusion alarm technology isn't slowing down yet

Bosch's Tom Mechler discusses top tech factors changing the intrusion business

Alarm systems have been around for decades, so is this side of our industry still actually progressing? Is the technology getting better? Are installation times getting faster? Is the intrusion business staying current with home and business trends today? To answer some of these questions, called Bosch Security Systems Product Marketing Manager Tom Mechler.

Bosch, is of course, one of the top companies manufacturing and selling intrusion detection systems in the U.S., and IMS Research recently noted that the company has been growing its Americas market share in the intrusion business (in fact, IMS Research found only one other company was actually growing its Americas' intrusion business faster than Bosch). Mechler's job at Bosch encompasses some of the company's newest intrusion technology products, like the company's Professional Series detectors and the Conettix line that allows IP communications for alarm panels. Also under his purvey are products like the just-announced wireless platform for the company's G series alarm panels (which are used for commercial security applications). We talked with Mechler about the technologies changing his offerings and the industry as a whole. His interview appears below:

SIW: Tom, what is changing right now in the intrusion detection business?

Mechler: The technology really is getting better. Ten years ago we were in the false alarm race, trying to reduce false alarms. Now we’re past that and able to improve efficiency from an installation standpoint. Our new detectors can save installers up to 25 percent of their install time. That adds up. We want to reduce service time and installation time. These detectors “catch” better and have better false alarm immunity. Because of the design of our [Bosch Professional Series] detectors, we can save 5-10 minutes per detector (in installation time).

Where are you finding those time savings?

Some of it is the mechanics, things like the way the detector goes together. It can be things like putting the terminal strips in the mounting plate, and then designing it so everything snaps together. We eliminated annoying things like the tiny screws that often hold on the detectors’ mounting cover that you are always dropping. Installation time has also been improved for system set-up. The detectors don’t require a pulse count adjustment anymore; they automatically adjust for sensitivity based on the environment. We put a bubble level in our Professional Series detectors to make sure it is level. That may sound like a simple gimmick, but it can help ensure you are level, because even being off 1 or 2 degrees at 60 feet could put the sensor’s beam on the floor or over someone’s head where it won’t detect an intruder.

What about wireless?

We are seeing a greater shift toward wireless systems in the commercial business. We’re seeing more and more commercial jobs going to wireless. Wireless had typically been primarily in the residential market. Just recently we partnered with Inovonics to develop a commercial wireless product line.

The reason wireless is catching on is that the end user is trying to reduce installation costs and have consistent costs. If you're a national chain with stores around the U.S., going wireless could mean being able to consistently budget for installation costs [versus pulling cable, which could vary store by store depending on construction methods and materials].

From a technology standpoint, the technology really works very well. With a wireless system, there will be future service, because batteries will not last forever. You have to understand there will be service of that system. With wired systems, if the wire doesn’t get accidentally cut, you might never have to service the system other than standard walk-through checks to make sure it is still working. So the biggest con for a wireless system really is only that you will have future service to check and replace batteries.

This content continues onto the next page...