Working closely with Ensto, Sweden’s Axis Communications has created a line of shotgun-proofed, virtually indestructible cameras.
It’s not easy being a security camera. You’re rained on and snowed on. Vandals cut wires connected to you. They spray you with paint. And in some parts of the world you’re blasted with rifles or shotguns.
Sweden’s Axis Communications knows security cameras: Axis invented the world’s first network camera in 1996 and pioneered the move from analog to digital surveillance. With annual sales approaching 600 million euros and a presence in 179 countries, Axis products protect retail chains, airports, trains, motorways, universities, prisons, casinos, and banks.
Rain and vandals
A surveillance camera is more than just the camera itself — a lot of accessories are required for it to function. The power supply, media converter, and cables are often housed separately from the camera. Axis found that multiple boxes both complicated installation and attracted the attention of vandals. Also, customers often supplied their own cabinets that were not IP rated, meaning rainwater and dust penetrated the cabinets.
Since even the finest camera system is as vulnerable as its weakest point, Axis approached Ensto to see what it could do.
“Out of this problem Ensto’s sales and project team created a single box which contains the camera, media converter, and power supply,” says Peter Miltén, Ensto's Sales and Marketing Director for electrification solutions in Scandinavia. “Cables go in a separate space in the bottom where they are secured. The same cabinet works with eight to twelve camera models, and six different lid variations enable the mounting of a variety of camera models.”
And Ensto offered another innovation, as well: a plastic cabinet.
Traditionally, cabinets for security cameras are made of metal. Metal is perceived to be strong. But that isn’t necessarily the case.
To convince Axis that plastic could do the job, Ensto invited their engineers to visit the Tallinn factory and then spend a couple of hours beating the cabinet with a baseball bat.
Axis flew home with some cabinets and put them to additional tests. “I put it on my concrete office floor and hit it as hard as I could with a 70-centimeter pipe wrench. Nothing happened,” says Kettil Sjöholm, Axis Product Specialist. “I had my colleague try it. I think we hit it 20 or 30 times and there were just small marks on the cabinet.”
Sjöholm was personally convinced, but he quickly tired of salespeople telling him plastic wasn’t hard enough. “So I called up a hunter friend, and we shot the cabinet eight or nine times with magnum shotgun loads from twelve meters away and at an angle to simulate how it would be shot from the street. Even a shotgun blast couldn’t break it. There were only some scars.”
Never need three hands
The plastic cabinets were not only strong, but they had other advantages, as well.
The cabinet could be installed by one individual. The lightweight plastic was easily handled on a skylift, and a mounting plate meant components could be placed in the cabinet before wall mounting. “An installer should never need three hands,” says Sjöholm. “One person should be able to do it, and even have a cup of coffee.”
Sjöholm says most competitors’ products still require more than one installer. And since February 2015, Axis T98 units leave the Tallinn factory with electronic components, making the installer’s job even easier.
Yet another benefit of plastic was its customization for the Axis brand. “Wings are attached to the lid, and those are Axis wings,” says Sjöholm. “There’s a design line on the front of the cabinet’s lid. Look at the M10, for example, and you’ll see that the cabinet looks like a larger version of the camera itself.”
The Ensto cabinets allow maximum flexibility for Axis to make product offerings. “When we change the form factor of the camera then we just create a new lid,” says Sjöholm. “The five versions of the lids can handle approximately 50 different cameras.”
This market innovation could only have happened by each partner bringing their particular expertise to problem solving. Axis knows surveillance. Ensto knows enclosures. Together the product was created and tested in Ensto factories.
“The cooperation was quite smooth,” says Sjöholm. “Ensto had the experience and knowledge of the cabinets – real knowledge of materials, too. They took the time and really understood what we were looking for.”
More information about Ensto enclosing solutions: