Anixter opens new security system test lab near Chicago
By Jennifer Brown
Anixter has unveiled it’s new Infrastructure Solutions Lab, designed to give customers the means to test-drive new security systems before rolling them out in their own enterprise environments.
By Jennifer Brown
Located at the company’s corporate headquarters in Glenview, Ill., just outside Chicago, the lab was created to make sure security systems meet customer requirements and will work with existing systems that currently run on their networks. Customers that might use the lab services include security system integrators/installers, end-users and manufacturers. Its mission is to educate, demonstrate and evaluate network and security systems and products for customers.
“It’s all about serving the customer and supplier in an innovative way,” says Andy Jimenez, vice-president of Technology, Enterprise Cabling Solutions at Anixter in Glenview. “The key advantage we have is we can be completely vendor-neutral and the customer will make more educated and informed decisions. We can test the integrity of a solution before providing it to the customer.”
Jimenez says the lab can test product from inventory, it can demonstrate the benefits of a structured cabling environment, and show the value of integrated IP-based systems. It can also put security product interoperability to the test for customers concerned about legacy systems working with new equipment.
Anixter says it remains vendor-neutral in the testing, but notes it will only tests equipment from its preferred partner manufacturers, however, most of those are the larger, well-known brands such as found in the security market are distributed by Anixter.
The lab is also the only distributor-operated lab in the world to be UL-certified.
“They come in and audit us once a year to make sure we are doing cable specification to the ISO specifications and quality standards,” says Jimenez.
Anixter’s senior vice-president of marketing, Steve Leatherwood says the lab is “an important part of our credibility. It means we can talk about technology whether it is the legacy environment on a coaxial system with three cables going to every camera or if it’s all about the new IP world and all of the aspects of integration required with the different product sets. If we can provide value there and demonstrate it to the customers that’s certainly an important part of our technical value.”
Anixter had previously operated separate security and networking labs. The new 4,000 square foot lab brings networking and security systems together in one facility and includes a boardroom for customers to view the systems being put to the test. The demonstration rooms showcase best practices for installation and maintenance and can simulate complex multi-vendor systems and how they will perform on an enterprise network — including how it will perform with enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.
“We try to set up an environment that puts the technology in the best light and we let the customer decide,” says Tim Holloway, vice-president of Technology. “One of the biggest questions we get from customers is ‘What is IP video streaming going to do to my network? We can set up a camera and show the through put and show frames per second and how it impacts bandwidth.”
Customers can also see the range a PTZ camera can provide and the benefits of an optical zoom camera, noting the different image benefits.
“We can show them that there are different reasons to have different cameras and that you may not need more than one in one location and we can show the customer how a mix of cameras can work,” says Holloway.
Ideally, Holloway says integrators will bring their end-user customers with them into the lab to see the system performance for themselves.