September 2010 Archives

"Consumerizing" military/defense security technologies focuses FLIR's vision

Defense optics specialist. "Green" company. Consumer electronics manufacturer. General business media have used all those terms describe FLIR Systems. In the commercial security industry, FLIR, which is forecasting FY2010 revenues of about $1.4 billion, is probably best known as a thermal camera manufacturer. As Bill Klink, vice president, security and surveillance for FLIR's commercial systems division told us, "That all speaks to the diversification FLIR has now. We touch all those markets."

We talked with Klink (pictured below) to understand why FLIR is in these different markets and what strategy ties all these disparate parts together. In particular, we were curious about the company's two acquisitions this year. First, in May, FLIR bought Raymarine, a major international supplier of maritime radar and display systems with a huge consumer business.  This month, FLIR is acquiring sensor specialist ICx Technologies, Inc.  Among ICx's offerings is a line of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) sensors.

Klink spoke with us about how FLIR expects to grow though its acquisitions, its long-term strategy of continually driving down the costs of thermal imaging and the technology it will be showcasing at ASIS 2010.

What follows is a transcript of our conversation, edited for clarity and length.


Sharon J. Watson: What's the best way to describe what FLIR is today and what the strategy is that links its parts into a coherent whole?

Bill Klink, vice president security and surveillance, FLIR:
  Our business model has always been to take defense technology and commercialize it. Our legacy has been as a defense optics specialist. The whole thermal line is an outgrowth of military needs for night vision...We now have thermal technology in passenger cars, security cameras, cameras measuring building heat loss, military helicopters, fishing boats. It's really diverse.

We have two divisions, the Government Systems Division and the Commercial Systems Division. Those divisions point to how FLIR intends to grow.  Our security business sits in the Commercial Systems Division.

: Let's look at security, then. On most security company websites, words like interoperability, openness, connectivity are pretty prominent. FLIR's website talks a little bit about connectivity and about your "Nexus connectivity technology" but doesn't seem to emphasize it. How open is FLIR and what's involved in integrating your devices into an existing IP security or surveillance network?

September 2010 Archives