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What sets Hikvision apart from the competition?

Established in 2001 with staff of 30 people, Hikvision started out in the industry as a video compression card developer. Today, the company boasts one of the most complete video surveillance product portfolios on the planet and has over 14,500 employees around the globe. According to market research firm IHS, the company ranks as the top provider globally in every individual hardware-based equipment category for video surveillance and owns a 16.3 percent total market share in terms of revenue. When it comes to network cameras, Hikvision holds a nearly 19 percent global market share.    

What enabled a small, compression card maker to become the world’s leading supplier of video surveillance equipment in the span of a decade? The answer can be found in Hikvision’s intense focus around product development and being able to turn those ideas into a reality in short order. Members of the media were recently invited to tour the Hikvision product showroom and testing labs at their new headquarters building located in Hangzhou, China, as well as their manufacturing plant which is also in Hangzhou, to get a firsthand look at the company’s operations.

Visiting the showroom on the first floor of the company’s headquarters really gives you a sense of the breadth of products the company offers, which runs the gamut of not just video surveillance, but physical security as a whole, including intrusion detection, access control and even smart home solutions. Only a portion of the entire Hikvision product catalogue has been made available to the North American market thus far. In addition to the sheer number of products, Hikvision also has developed solutions specifically tailored to meet the needs of individual vertical markets, such as smart cities, transportation, healthcare, law enforcement, energy, intelligent building systems, and banking.

While the showroom is impressive in and of itself, walking through the company’s test labs gives you a glimpse into how the company has been able to catapult itself to the top of the global video market. Granted, most successful manufacturers in the video surveillance space - or any other product segment for that matter - have robust research and development programs in place, but it is the scale of Hikvision’s R&D efforts that truly set it apart. The company, which has over 5,400 engineers (2,000 of which are software engineers) within its’ employee rolls, holds 400 copyrights and 600 patents.

During the tour, media members were allowed to look in on engineers as they went about their daily tasks in both the safety and system testing labs. The system testing lab, which gauges the reliability of Hikvision products and their ability to hold up under different environmental stresses, encompasses more than 29,000-square-feet in the company’s headquarters and can simultaneously test up to 10,000 products at a given time.

Although Hikvision’s new headquarters opened just last year, the company is already looking to the future as it is in the process of building a new R&D facility adjacent to their headquarters. The new facility, which is slated to be finished in 2018, will be three-times the size of the current headquarters building, encompassing nearly 2.7 million-square feet and housing 11,000 employees. 

Hikvision also boasts an expansive manufacturing facility in Hangzhou that covers an area greater than 1 million-square feet in size. Members of the media were allowed to tour several areas within the facility, including the PC board lab and IP camera factory where the company’s focus on having a “quality culture” was on full display. Within one of the areas where network cameras were being built, a paper banner containing the signatures of workers hung above one of the windows that provided a view into the manufacturing floor. The signatures were, in essence, a pledge by those workers to adhere to the company’s high-quality production standards.

A commitment to rigorous quality control standards is absolutely essential considering the volume of products the factory produces. The IP camera factory we visited, for example, is capable of churning out 23,500 network cameras a day, but that is only a fraction of what the company can produce on a daily basis. At maximum output, Hikvision can manufacture 90,000 network cameras, 65,000 analog cameras, 5,000 PTZ dome cameras, and 28,000 back-end products (DVRs, NVRs, etc.) daily.

If that kind of output wasn’t robust enough, Hikvision is also putting the finishing touches on a new manufacturing facility in Tonglu, which will feature more than 3.4 million-square-feet of space. That facility is expected to complete by the end of this year.      

Hikvision has already made significant inroads in the North American market and this increased capacity for product development and manufacturing will only serve to keep the company among the top providers of surveillance equipment. The company has also ramped up its efforts in recent years to drive increased brand awareness among dealers, integrators and even end-users in the U.S. 

“We are constantly adding resources and touch points in the field to drive awareness of who Hikvision is, the solutions we bring to the market, and enhanced pre/post sale support.  Each customer has different needs and the breadth of our solution set meets nearly every customer’s requirements from small to mid-size dealers, large enterprise level systems integrators, and national account footprint integrators,” said Vince Lupe, director of business development for Hikvision USA. “We are driving awareness at the end-user level by focusing on specific verticals, gathering the valuable voice of the customer, and partnering with cooperative manufacturers in an effort to create and deliver holistic solutions that solve various problems for end-users.”

Given the consolidation the industry has seen in recent years, it’s clear that just having a nice portfolio of cameras will not be enough to for companies to become or remain successful over the long haul. Having a combination of innovative hardware and software products along with robust service offerings will be a necessity and Hikvision appears to be on track to remain a dominant player in the market for years to come.