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Improving the wheel “W

e don’t need to reinvent the wheel – we just need to improve it,” says Richard

Middelmann, matter-of-factly. “But most importantly we are reducing the capital expenditure needed to enforce multiple types of safety-related road user behav- iour using discreet technologies.” Middelmann is managing director of

Vitronic’s Australian operation, based 25km north of Melbourne city centre in Mitcham, Victoria and maintains the German enforcement and tolling special- ists’ reputation by providing full-service capability to the Australian market in the traffic technology and logistics systems sectors. Among the Vitronic product range offered by their Antipodean coun- terparts are the POLISCAN SPEED mobile speed enforcement system and VICAM SNAP, the company’s camera identifica- tion system for the logistics market. “In terms of enforcement the Austral-

ian market is relatively mature,” says Mid- delmann, “but there’s not a lot of laser enforcement as yet. One of the advantages of a laser system is that they are able to give you much more detailed information about the type of traffic that’s moving past them and importantly what it’s doing and how fast it’s going as it moves past. This is what opens the door, as it were, to allow you to detect other types of incidents. Radar systems are subject to reflections from all manner of objects and you just don’t get the same level of detailed infor- mation from a radar-based system.” Any company that has attempted to

tackle a foreign market will tell you that having a local partner, an appreciation of cultural differences and an open mind are


but three crucial ingredients to ensuring your venture is more than just a toe in the water. It’s certainly the case in countries such as China or India, but for companies from the UK, US. Canada or South Africa Australia is not seen as wholly “foreign” as we speak the same language. But how does it work for a German company? How important is it to find a local partner who can show you the ropes and attempt to guide you through what can be cultural minefields if you aren’t careful. “It’s important to remember that Aus-

tralia is an entirely separate jurisdiction, so it’s the equivalent of dealing with eight European countries” Middelmann replies. Clearly that’s a legacy of the country’s colonial history but each state has its own type approval process, standards, specifications, requirements, transport authorities and police forces. It’s signifi- cantly different in Western Australia as it is


Australia may be a unique country in many respects, when it comes to enforcement it has just the same needs as the UK, Germany or the US. Kevin Borras talks to Vitronic Machine Vision Australia’s managing director Richard Middelmann about geographical differences, driver behaviour and the advantages of LIDAR

in Queensland, for example. To gain type approval for devices like ours we have to go through the process individually in each state. Also customers want to be able to speak to people locally, who are in the same time zone, who understand their language, understand their require- ments and can give them the support that is necessary for these programs to be effective,” and by that he means timely and sometimes immediate support. With the best will in the world a company based in Wiesbaden in Germany is going to struggle to react immediately to a cli- ent who has a pressing issue in Fremantle, two thirds of a business day ahead. “In our experience we can only do that if

we are in-country, close to our customers.” If Australia’s eight jurisdictions have

such differing needs and requirements in terms of specifications and standards, that must surely not only have an effect on how the technology is implemented but also on how it’s enforced by local police. However, Middelmann doesn’t believe that to be the case. “Not necessarily, as the technology ends

up being reasonably common, but you have to go through an approval process and then a review process in each state and often the configuration for enforce- ment devices differs from state to state.”

IMPLEMENTATIONAL GEOGRAPHY “Australia has three types of terrain, essentially,” explains Middelmann who has spent the majority of the last 20 years Australia interspersed with a five- year stint with Vitronic in Germany. “The majority of the population live in

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