A profile of Mike Lau, Technical Manager at IDL
Since 2012, Mike Lau has been responsible for managing Integrated Design Limited’s engineering, research and development team. Below, Mike shares his journey to Technical Manager, highlighting some of the projects he’s most proud of and providing insight into the trends driving the entrance control market today.
Developing an appetite for all things security
I started off my professional career in New Zealand where, upon finishing my Bachelor of Technology in Product Development, I started working for Fruehauf Pacific Ltd as a Production Engineer. After a couple of years there, I made the move to the UK, where I initially worked for Solarcentury as a Product Development Engineer and for The GEA Group as a Contract Mechanical Engineer, before moving into the security industry when I took a role with Frontier Pitts Ltd as their Engineering Manager.
At Frontier Pitts, we were primarily focused on perimeter security and many of the products I worked on aimed to defeat vehicle attacks and protect national infrastructure. This role certainly whet my appetite for all things security, so when the role came up with Integrated Design Limited (IDL), it seemed like the perfect opportunity to further my knowledge in this field.
Simplifying the custom design process through agile engineering
When I started working at IDL, 3D modelling was in its infancy and managing the data and the design process was still a bit cumbersome. So, one of my first priorities was to revamp the way the design process was managed by introducing agile engineering methods and processes as well as diversifying the use of our various 3D software to support our sales partners. This method changed how we approached a project and how we stored information and product designs, meaning that we could respond to custom design requirements a lot quicker.
Taking custom turnstile designs from concept to market
One of the best things about working with IDL is the closeness of the team here and the fact that we are all together on one site. The technical team is involved right from the briefing stage. Once we receive a request from the sales team, we immediately begin looking into it.
During this initial phase, we spend a lot of time working alongside the sales team to really understand the client’s requirements, to ensure we recommend the best solution to fulfil their brief. Sometimes, a request may come in which initially doesn’t seem feasible. Instead of just saying no, we will always look at creating a customised solution to match a client’s requirements as closely as possible, working together with them to find a happy median. In this type of work, you always have to stay on top of market demands and respond to them by using new and existing technology in innovative ways.
The fact that we are all based together on one site helps this process enormously and allows us to work quicker and be more responsive to our customers because we can collaborate easily with other departments to get the information needed. During the manufacturing process, we can also see our designs being brought to life and support the production team if there are any issues. It is much easier to resolve a potential issue if the technical team is sat next door to the production floor.
Custom design requests fuel research and development
I have seen a massive increase in the number of custom projects that we are asked to investigate. Having worked with many architects and integrators over the years creating designs to perfectly satisfy both their functional and aesthetic requirements and, having repeatedly demonstrated our capabilities in doing this, IDL has become known as an expert in this field.
I love that security isn’t just functional these days; it can be built into the environment which it is there to protect. If an architect has devoted a lot of time to designing a beautiful building and has paid attention to every tiny detail of the exterior and interior aesthetic, they do not want the entrance control system to detract from that. Our team has a natural curiousness and the drive to create innovative solutions to our clients’ often complex briefs, whether that’s working with unusual materials to complement a unique environment or integrating other third-party technologies with our turnstiles to deliver additional functionality. Through always challenging ourselves to best meet the custom design requests of our clients, we find new ways to develop our own standard products too, which means we are constantly improving our whole range.
Turnstile integration, interoperability and compatibility
Over the years, there has been an increasing demand for entrance control turnstiles to add additional value beyond just providing a physical security measure. There has also been a shift from only allowing access to people with the right credentials to wanting to know who is in your building, how many people are in your building, at what times and how they are using that facility. This has stemmed from the changing security climate facing the world today especially in light of the events in recent years.
Entrance control solutions are no longer separate from other security and non-security systems, and have the capability to integrate with video, time-and-attendance, identity management and other data sources. This interconnectivity provides building owners and managers with data which can be used to enhance security procedures, optimise energy efficiency of a building as well as support fire control.
Integrating third-party technology with turnstiles to deliver this added functionality is nothing new, but our approach here at IDL is to seamlessly integrate the added functionality without compromising on the aesthetics of our products. Our technical team’s ability to work closely with our partners and to adapt our turnstiles to accommodate third-party products, so that they look like an integral part of a complete system, is exceptional.
Designing turnstiles for iconic buildings
One of the projects I am most proud of to date is the work we did for 7 World Trade Center in New York. This was a unique project not only due the client’s required customisations but also because we originally didn’t win the contract, as it went to a cheaper turnstile supplier. After a few years, the client came back to us as they were not happy with their original choice. The turnstiles were not delivering the functionality required and it was taking too long for users to enter and leave the building, especially during peak times.
Working with Smarter Security, our exclusive Fastlane partner in North America, we designed and supplied bespoke Fastlane Glassgate products to secure the lobby and integrate with the existing lift destination control system. I had the opportunity to travel out to New York to carry out an in-depth site survey and then again in order to present the prototype to the stakeholders. It is a real privilege to produce something which is now a crucial part of such an iconic building.
I am passionate about what I do and about making a difference through the use of innovative technology and, for this reason, IDL is the perfect fit for me. Being part of a team that strives to be the best in our industry and keep ahead of the curve through innovation is incredibly satisfying.
Want to know more? Contact our team to arrange a visit to our showroom in West London for a live demonstration of our product range – call +44 (0)20 8890 5550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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