WHEN you’re the manufacturer of one of the most success electronic security products the Australian market has ever seen it can’t be easy to work out ways to leverage vertical markets. Inner Range seems to have found a way, simplifying its benchmark access control and alarm management solution to challenge and out-compete entry level competitors who have been working to expand big alarm panels into the access control market. According to Inner Range’s Vin Lopes, the new Concept LX was specifically conceived to deliver installers and end users a replacement product for the Concept 2000, a now retired solution that could handle access control and alarm duties in small and medium commercial and domestic applications. It’s smart work from Inner Range. Essentially this new Concept LX is a simpler and cheaper Concept 4000 controller that’s perfect for use where an installer might have previously used a high end domestic product to save money but which might not have been able to achieve all of the desired functionality nor be able to grow with the site if it became necessary down the track. “We knew that the quickest way to fill the gap would be to leverage the existing technology in the Concept 4000, and therefore planned to offer a product with reduced but sensibly common functionality, that would fit the bill for most low end installations,” explains Lopes. “We also realised that some added benefits with this strategy would be that we could offer an upgrade path into the mainstream Concept 4000 product range when sites get bigger over time, and that it might serve as a motivation to encourage previously unwilling installers to be introduced, in a simple way, to the bigger technology available in the Concept 4000 products. “Once we started on the project it just made so much sense that we quite honestly began to wonder why we had not done it sooner,” Lopes says. “Given that the Concept 4000 controller code base is the brain child of our director, Doug Frazer, it was necessary that he was involved in the architecture of the product but most of the development was undertaken by our line engineers and support people.”For security managers and other end users, Concept 4000 LX is a product they’d be looking at if they did not need a product with the potential for exponential growth, yet required what Lopes aptly describes as “a level granularity and features that smaller controllers usually don’t provide”.

Features and functions

Just what are the key functions of the stripped down Concept 4000 LX from the point of view of end user and installer? A quick look at the specification sheets suggests there’s plenty. “Firstly the LX will be compatible with the new Prisma key pad which is in production as we speak,” Lopes explains. “The LX will also enable you to use the cheaper high level serial interface to a Multipath IP communicator. “With LX you inherently get all of the IP connectivity as available with Concept 4000 products and that is both on the LAN and between the controller and the software. Future proofing is another benefit, in the event of site growth or complexity being required later for say energy management or reporting functions.”For installers the LX Control Module offers a quick set up time thanks to a fixed configuration and support for a wide range of module types including LCD Terminals, Reader Modules, Universal Expanders, a Touchscreen and an RF Expander.  While this isn’t a full blown Concept 4000, the LX is no slouch. Expandable to 96 physical zones, 32 wireless zones and 8doors, it will also support 16 areas and 100 users. Other appealing numbers include support for 16 RF key fobs, a 300-event review log and the ability to be upgraded to a standard Concept 4000 panel in the future if required. That’s nice. Out of the box the LX control module offers 16 zone inputs, two relay outputs, switch mode power supply, LAN port, modem, serial port, siren and relay outputs on-board. Easy expansion options include an 8-relay expander board, an 8-auxiliary output expander board and a choice of 1-4 port RS232 or Ethernet UART communications modules to handle comms. Very importantly, Concept 4000 LX is supported by the Inner Range’s Insight Professional and Insight Express management solutions. “The Concept LX can be used with the complete Insight software suite so you have all of the IP functionality and connectivity that comes with that,” explains Lopes. “You could use this product on a grand scale if you wanted to connect hundreds of controllers with Insight software to manage remote sites with only a small number of inputs per site.”

Installation and upgrade

When it comes to brownfield sites – replacing an existing older Concept solution such as Concept 2000 with the new Concept 4000 LX is very easy if the brownfield solution is relatively recent. To help installers out, Inner Range has prepared a compatibility guide which is available with release documentation on the Inner Range website.“If the Concept 2000 expanders and terminals on the site are less than six years old then the process of upgrade to the LX would be relatively simple,” Lopes says. “If installations are older upgrade may still be possible but you should check with Inner Range citing the actual version numbers of the PCB’S before you get to work.” Lopes says that from an installer’s point of view the upgrade process might mean completely new hardware, old power supplies and housings, or it might not. “The answer to this is yes and no,” he explains. “The Concept 2000 has been in production for twenty years and the electronics and metalware has undergone several iterations during that time but if the system is not too old the answer is yes – elements of an existing system can be recycled. However, if really early metalware or a PCB revision is deployed you will probably need to update the whole unit.”Something that’s important with Concept LX is that Concept-trained installers can handle Concept 4000 LX installation and upgrades without additional instruction or training. “The programming options are the same as other Concept programming but are simpler and there are less of them in the LX,” Lopes says. “It’s our hope that an untrained installer will find it a little simpler also. The big unknown for us is how difficult a die-hard Concept 2000 installer, who has never made the jump to Concept 4000, will find the transition. Only time will answer that question.A big question is obviously cost – just how competitive will the Concept LX in terms of cost?“Discount structures vary for all customers depending on their relationship with their wholesaler but as a rule of thumb the LX should cost exactly the same price as an installer has been paying for a Concept 2000 which should be considerably less than a Concept 4000,” says Lopes. The new Concept 4000 LX is available now through Inner Range’s exclusive distributor, Central Security Distribution and Lopes says there’s plenty of interest in the company’s new baby. “Concept 4000 LX hasn’t been released as we speak in Mid-March but the interest has been much greater that we would have expected,” he explains. “It would appear that this product will chew into some of our existing Concept 4000 business but we believe that it will bring enough new enquiry overall to justify our decision to release it.”

“Discount structures vary for all customers depending on their relationship with their wholesaler but as a rule of thumb the LX should cost exactly the same price as an installer has been paying for a Concept 2000 which should be considerably less than a Concept 4000”