Dedicated Micros (DM) is an international market leader in the field of specialist CCTV control equipment and is credited with the invention of the world’s first video multiplexer. The company is renowned for the design and manufacture of robust, dedicated, multiplex hardware designed to meet the demands of continuous 24-hour security surveillance.
As an FDI company, Dedicated Micros has been operating in Malta for some 25 years. Can you give us an overview of the company and your history on the island?
Our CEO and company owner, Mike Newton, was familiar with Malta because his parents used to come for vacation to the island, and in 1990, Dedicated Micros (Malta) Ltd. was established. At the beginning, DM Malta only produced keyboards. But over the years, more production capability was added so that it became the main manufacturing plant of the group in 1996. In 2001 DM became an integral part of the AD (Anglo Design) Group, and in 2007 we moved to our current 8,000 square metre premises. Today, all AD products sold worldwide originate from Malta.
Looking at the global surveillance industry, what sectors do you cater for?
We provide high end-security solutions and have a strong presence in the UK, US, Europe and Middle Eastern markets. We were one of the first companies to embrace the concept of video over IP. AD's interests now include CCTV systems for aircraft, transport, smoke detection, together with camera technology and digital video recorders and multiplexers. The Group is firmly committed to the implementation of effective CCTV standards, and its senior personnel play an active role in key industry bodies, helping to drive best practice in critical areas from detector activated CCTV to digital video evidence.
Dedicated Micros has been active in this industry for over three decades which gives you a unique insight into how the sector has changed in that period. What have been the major market developments that have occurred in the last 10 years?
Technological developments pioneered by DM have formed the building blocks for the success of today's CCTV industry, earning the company a reputation as one of the industry's foremost innovative forces and the name behind some of the most advanced surveillance equipment on the market. DM's success is rooted in the invention of the world's first video multiplexer way back in 1982 – a monitoring product which records continuous images from a number of cameras onto a single video cassette tape – the basis for today's sophisticated CCTV security surveillance equipment.
With the advent of Digital Technology in early 2000, the digital video multiplexer was launched. It was able to deliver live and recorded video from any camera or hard disk any desktop PC, providing an extremely cost-effective method of increasing the number of control stations in a system. Lately we are amalgamating CCTV security with fire in a product called FireVu. AD’s Video Smoke Detection technology detects, identifies and analyses smoke at the start of a fire. This enables users, located on site or remotely, to raise the alert and take appropriate action early.
All AD Group company offerings – FireVu, RemGuard, Dedicated Micros, AD Aerospace, TransVu, and TSS – make up a suite of solutions. All solutions and products share AD Group’s common core video server technology NetVu Connected, which ensures AD Group solutions are differentiated, scalable and operate together seamlessly. This means different products from different eras can operate seamlessly together, maximising the rate of return of investment.
What opportunities have you identified for Dedicated Micros Malta future growth?
The DM Malta plant can produce electronics for virtually every customer, not only our own. We are now entering the subcontracting market offering to build high-end electronics for other companies. We have some leads at the moment and are actually preparing our operation for this type of production.
How do you see the global manufacturing landscape developing, and what countries are Malta’s main competitors when it comes to attracting companies?
Initially, a number of European and American companies shifted their production to China to gain from cheaper labour rates. Lately, the reverse trend is happening, and a number of firms are reshoring or bringing manufacturing and services back from overseas. Companies look at a wide variety of factors, not only at labour costs but also at the availability of quality workers. This year’s best decision may not be the best in years to come as foreign markets continue to grow; foreign labour becomes more skilled and also more expensive. Nowadays access to the foreign market is a very large influencing factor. Hence, I believe that those companies that have a strong European presence will seek to manufacture their products in Europe. In my opinion, Eastern European countries that are in the EU are Malta’s main competitors since they offer lower wages but still have a high degree of skilled workforce.
Have there ever been thoughts of moving the factory out of Malta?
Our product is a high-end technological product that requires a certain level of experience/knowledge to produce which is not easily transferable. Over 75% of our workforce has been with the firm for more than 10 years. Our very first employee is still with us. While one can never exclude the possibility of relocation, the knowledge and experience gained over these years, coupled with a very flexible workforce willing to adapt to change, are key reasons for the factory to remain in Malta.
With costs being lower elsewhere, Malta might not be the most obvious location for a manufacturing plant. What in your opinion are the compelling reasons for corporations to consider Malta in their global strategy?
Companies thinking of setting up in Malta today will find it difficult to initially justify coming to Malta purely from a cost perspective. The fact that Malta is an island and not connected to mainland Europe is often seen as another disadvantage. However many companies that set up here were positively surprised with local people’s attitude towards work, their willingness to learn and their loyalty. These intangibles are difficult to quantify but essential for any successful company. The amount of Foreign Direct Investment companies that have remained on the island is a testament to this. EU membership, an English-speaking workforce and a stable economy are other benefits.
Ing. Noel Micallef comes with 23 years experience within the electronics industry. He is a warranted Electrical Engineer by profession and has recently completed an MSc in Sustainable Energy. Since 2009 he has occupied the role of Managing Director within Dedicated Micros (Malta) Ltd. Noel is a member of the National Accreditation Board, General Secretary of the Bulebel Tenants Association and was a board member of the Manufacturing Group of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry.