Interview: Ovidiu Hriscu, Sales Manager, AZiTrend Distribution
Take, for example, a large warehouse with tens of thousands of SKUs in stock, and hundreds of thousands of scannings each day. If you need to document one type of event or an entire delivery with video proof, it might take you anywhere from a few hours to a few days. With the integration of the Warehouse Management System and AZiGuard Video Management, this task can take no more than a few minutes to a few seconds.
By: Damir Muharemović; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
a&s Adria: Mr. Ovidiu Hriscu, can you present yourself to our readers, with a focus on your educational background and professional experience, as well as your position at AZiTrend Distribution?
Hriscu: Hello and thank you for the opportunity of transmitting through you our way of looking at the usage of video solutions both as security or operational solution and the way we help our partners, the system integrators and manned guarding companies, to propose them to their clients. I represent AZiTrend as the Sales Manager. I am an economist by education, with high experience in the security area since 2006. Throughout my career, I have passed from operational roles, both from the end-user perspective or from the services provider, to management of a regional guarding company and sales of security services. All of this time, besides gathering experience, I have always tried to find the best solution in providing the services to the clients and winning the contracts with proper pricing and smart solutions. By mixing the technology available at the time and manned guarding, I made my first steps in that direction. After I saw the technology and the way AZiTrend is designing their new proposals for the market I understood that, the concept represents exactly what I was looking for in the market, and provides answers to all my previous questions, so I joined the team five years ago.
a&s Adria: In numbers, how long is AZiTrend Distribution in business, how high is your yearly revenue, and how many employees do you have? To achieve this, you went through some important milestones, what were they?
Hriscu: AZiTrend has been active in the security market for more than six years. Since then, the development of Security as a Service started to grow, together with the vision of using the video surveillance system for the optimization of operational or business processes. Driven by these goals, with a highly optimized team of 11 employees and other outsourcing software development companies, we have managed to reach 3 mil euros yearly revenue in the Romanian market.
Of course, some milestones have been recorded over the years. We had our first participation in an exhibition in 2016 at the Romanian Security Fair. In 2017, we completed our first project of AZiGuard perimeter guarding for a network of 32 bricolage hypermarkets. The project included: ensuring the perimetral protection of the location; integration with the manned guarding company dispatch; automatized vehicle transport access in the parking places during the night; automatization of the access at the main gate between the time the first employee came to work and the time the store was opened for the public; budget optimization, where we managed to provide a 25% reduction of the expenses for the security from the following month. The project stands for more than 5 years, during which the manned guarding service prices went up by at least 20-30%, so the benefit for the client got higher during that time, with better margins for our partner, the guarding company. These are the types of projects that define our way of work and add value to our activity, whether we refer to logistics, retail, production facilities, manned guarding companies, or systems integrators.
In 2022, we exhibited at our first international exhibition, the Adria Security Summit 2022, which we consider as the open road to the international market. The experience confirmed our trust and understanding of the market, so we plan 2023 to be the year when we consolidate this position.
a&s Adria: You are the exclusive distributor of several companies that deal in different fields of security. Do you distribute them solely in Romania or in other countries as well?
Hriscu: The way we approach the Romanian market differs from our approach to the international markets. The main goal of the company is to provide the core of the solution, as the software and the hardware part which helps the software to run as a software/hardware composition. We believe, for the international market, that we should provide the things we are good at, and these are software solutions for optimization in different industries via video surveillance systems, VMS applications, video analytics, and artificial intelligence.
a&s Adria: AZiTrend is primarily a distributor of integrated security systems. But, as you stated on your website, your professionals also “design the most innovative and efficient surveillance systems, which include both state-of-the-art equipment and integrated software platforms”. Having that said, what services do you actually offer to the market?
Hriscu: Our way of seeing things is: “Tell us what you do, and we tell you where we can optimize”. The pricing of a solution is not about what it costs, but what its value to the client is. In other words, if the solution has pricing, and the client optimizes much more, then the selling process is much easier, but, of course, with much preparation work. This time, for the international market, our goal is to provide our partners, such as distributors, system integrators, or manned guarding companies, with the core solution in terms of VMS platform and video analytics, so they can provide their clients the added value and optimizations they need.
Take, for example, a large warehouse with tens of thousands SKUs in stock, and hundreds of thousands of scannings each day, which represents the reception of goods, delivery, moving, and package assembling. If you need to document one type of event or an entire delivery with video proof, it might take you anywhere from a few hours to a few days. With the integration of the Warehouse Management System and AZiGuard Video Management, this task can take no more than a few minutes to a few seconds. Thus, a warehouse can offer a more confident service to its clients and achieves an increase in sales. For a system integrator, this is a new way of securing projects. Expand the example with cross-selling alternatives, such as supplementary cameras or other types of solutions dedicated to the logistics industries such as perimeter protection by AZiGuard video analytics, and transport management system integration for access control of the transporter vehicles in the time frame they are allowed by the costumers. We want our clients to use our solution in their operational processes, and in their security activities, so they can make their services better, faster, and more profitable.
a&s Adria: The center of AZiTrend’s integrated security system is your own software platform for video management and analysis – AZiGuard. You market it in a way that it is “characterized by high flexibility and infinite automation possibilities, which transforms the information of the existing or new video system into an interactive and easy-to-use system”. Can you elaborate on this? What do you mean by high flexibility and interactiveness?
Hriscu: The user experience is very important and it is transferred into speed, control, a significantly larger number of events to be processed, efficiency, and profitability. Let’s take an example of a dispatcher in the central dispatch of a security company. His main responsibility is to check the alerts that come from the system as object recognition (man, vehicle, bicycle/motorcycle), confirm the event, send the intervention team, discourage the burglar from causing damage, inform the intervention teams where to first check and also, just as important, to protect them from being surprised by the burglar. We see that the centralized dispatcher gains more importance in the process as the operational activities are more related to centralized activities and artificial intelligence, rather than the local activities. That also translates into speed, efficiency, and financial optimization. Everyone will benefit from the technology adoption. The employees will do more specialized work, which will be paid better, the security company can protect a larger number of places, with fewer employees and higher profitability, and the clients will pay less for the security service of a higher quality.
In terms of proactivity, this can be an example of the high accuracy and proactiveness of the AZiGuard system and the way it alerts its users or beneficiaries about important events in their activities. This is how they can concentrate on their work and only check the events. This is how they can manage a large number of information, cameras, and locations. In terms of flexibility, maybe one client needs to alert the store managers by audio headphones to open new selling points, while the others may want to generate an audio alarm in that case. Maybe a client wants to be alerted after seeing a queue of five people, while others react to a queue of three people. Maybe some clients want to receive the events in their own BI platform to integrate with other information from the business they manage. A guarding company might want to manage their alerts from their existing event management platform, or they want to manage only the video events with a dedicated dispatcher. We provide this level of flexibility in terms of programming how the events are sent or processed, and that makes AZiGuard a very flexible solution.
a&s Adria: AziGuard’s modules Active Search, Multi Search, and Event Search definitely ease the work of security staff and investigators. In what way is that?
Hriscu: From the beginning, the AZiGuard Video Management platform was designed to be a fast way of using the video feed from the cameras and finding important events very fast. These functionalities are available in the base licensing even in the VMS platform, without the need to access complicated events by video analytics. Imagine that you are a local dispatcher and you have to check in the parking space of a car that was scratched. Of course, you don’t know when to look because it wasn’t moved for 1-2 weeks. Sometimes, this can be a massive task for the dispatcher. But, what if you could select the interest area and search exclusively for movements in that specific area from the last hour, day, week, or whenever you want? Yes, this feature is available. The dispatcher takes a few seconds to find this type of event and just by watching short movies with movements in the area, he will detect the event very quickly. All this is available in the AZiGuard VMS platform with the basic license, and functions even on AZiGuard NVRs. It’s the simplest and cheapest way of buying AZiGuard VMS.
a&s Adria: Depending on the events available, different work scenarios can be created, for creating notifications or searching for them in the video archive. What events based on automation can be done?
Hriscu: As long as we have the information in the VMS platform as an event, we can program different kinds of scenarios in the dedicated module of automatization, where Python language can be written. The types of events may be VMS-related or hardware-related (from the camera) – advanced motion detection, sabotage, camera loss, fire and smoke detection, sound detector, in/out signals; video analytics related – object recognition of humans, vehicles (five types), bicycles, protective helmets, protective vests, body position, LPR, Aruko code, color detector, people counting, products on the shelf; 3rd party software – the database from the Warehouse Management System, the database of POS system, the database from a Transport management system; 3rd party equipment – alarm system, fire detection system, the arm/disarm or alert event.
Now let’s look at some examples. A queue management system in a pharmacy, a network from a few locations, up to several hundreds of them. They wanted to be alerted when the number of clients in the queue exceeds the maximum number, so they will know when to open a new selling point. The specificity of pharmacies is that the queue is not as in the hypermarkets, in one line, but rather spread out in one area. So a scripting scenario was created to solve this client’s need: the system detects the number of clients in the queue and the number of pharmacists present. If the average number of clients per pharmacist is more than three, the third pharmacist is called at the POS. If the maximum number of pharmacists has been reached, the procedure stops. The client also has a schedule of the working hours, in the way that one part of the program can have only two employees, and the other three or four. So the script should adapt to the client’s working schedule, three times per day. Also, the information on the number of clients in a queue is provided in the client’s BI, and he receives the information as graphical analytics, so he can predict the number of employees in every location. We can help our partners to put into action special dedicated requests, so they can win the projects with our solution.
a&s Adria: With the help of VMS software and AZiGuard Video Analysis, AZiTrend welcomes security companies through the concept of an electronic guard, based on the recognition of objects in video images. These events, managed by a powerful video management system, constitute an entirely innovative security concept. What are the four steps that constitute this concept?
Hriscu: In the development of AZiGuard, electronic guarding, we identified four major steps. The first one is to recognize the event, through the AZiGuard video analytics. The recognition of the object is server-based, so the more powerful resources and the stronger the software, the higher the accuracy. The second step is notification. With the VMS platform, the dispatchers have a powerful tool to receive and work through the events. The confirmation of the event is the third segment. The dispatcher will confirm all the events through video verification. This way he can send the intervention teams only in real alarm situations with minimum cost to the manned guarding company. At last, we have the intervention. Once the event is confirmed, the intervention team is sent to the location. Other tools are in the hands of the dispatcher for easy following of the intruder, with a speaker system through which he can communicate with a person that is seen and advise him to leave the location.
a&s Adria: What are the advantages of using the electronic guard concept for security companies?
Hriscu: Real advantages can be extracted by using technology or by mixing technology and manned guarding, depending on the location profile. From the client’s perspective, it’s about a lower budget. From our experience, the clients can receive a minimum of 25% reduction of the budget spend for perimeter security, together with a higher security level ensured. From the guarding company’s perspective, we present an instrument that can help them to ensure a higher and safer level of security for their clients. Also, they have a higher margin on the service. The cost of the intervention is highly reduced because the intervention teams are only sent to the real events by video confirmation. Overall, the dispatching costs are very efficient. One dispatcher can easily monitor the events from 1,000 cameras. The system can also be integrated with the CMS platform so that the dispatchers can work in a single platform, both for alarm monitoring and video monitoring.
a&s Adria: AZiGuard can be expanded and adapted to any type of specific location and requirements. In what verticals have you used your VMS so far and for what important clients? It was interesting to find out that some large high-scale installations are connected to your software platform. Can you tell us about those installations and how many devices are connected to AZiGuard?
Hriscu: We direct our products by verticals, mostly applied for retail, logistics, industrial (production units), banking, and HoReCa. The retail industry, as they are a large network of locations, has the most suggestive scale. For example, the largest retailer in Romania, with more than 1,000 stores, is using the VSM platform to manage the cameras from four central management points in the country. This is an example of rather small types of locations, around 16-32 cameras by location. Other examples are networks of 23 locations with 250 plus cameras or 32 locations with more than 150 cameras.
In the logistics industry, the scale and feature of the most important projects were to integrate the Warehouse Management System with the images from 370 cameras, so that the dispatchers can find transactions very easily. Other features were introduced to complete the logistics vertical, such as perimeter protection, transport management integration, and video management at the base. In industrial fields, besides large perimeter protection, we can specify the health and safety features, with a helmet or protective vest recognition, man down system, and identification of proper health and safety training for each person present in different sections of the factory.
a&s Adria: At the end, you have exhibited at the latest Adria Security Summit in Zagreb, with a focus on presenting AZiGuard to customers from the Adriatic region. Did you manage to raise interest in your integrated electronic security system? Do you already have partners in the region or are you looking for new ones?
Hriscu: Our participation in the Adria Security Summit was our first exhibition outside the country and the result was very promising. We’ve gathered a lot of interest and started some new discussions in terms of partnerships, so we plan for 2023 to confirm our first partnerships in the area. We put all our efforts into helping our partners with interesting ideas to help them win their clients. And we can only do that by building a trusted and reliable relationship with them, so our presence will be increased in the market.