The QSS service, logistic and training centre at Laverton North in Melbourne is something to behold. It’s the only service centre of this size I’ve seen anywhere in the Australian electronic security industry.

MOST manufacturers and distributors have a ‘service centre’ – a crowded bench in a dusty warehouse covered with the bodies of dead cameras and DVR chassis that looks like a Star Wars’ droid workshop. But the QSS service centre at Laverton in Melbourne really is different. 

The facility handles commissioning of systems for integration customers as well as servicing of cameras, NVRS, DVRs, servers and computers. As I walk through the QSS service centre with QSS’ national service manager, Manny Kalaw, I see hundreds of cameras in various states of repair. When you think of modern electronics as being disposable, there’s something wonderful about a facility that repairs our electronic security technology. 

PTZ component replacement

It’s impressive space – big, clean and well organised. The QSS service centre has real wow factor. The work benches are commodious, there are stores of parts it seems to me go right down to the board component level. There’s also serious network support for the local LAN, with a packed server rack giving the 5 QSS service centre technicians plenty of horsepower for working up systems.  

I did not know you did this at QSS, I tell Kalaw – I’m not sure anyone outside the QSS orbit knows you do this.  

“All QSS branches have a local service capability – 95 per cent of service work happens there – it’s only the more complex tasks that come to Laverton North where we service everything,” Kalaw explains. “We repair NVRS, DVRs, servers, cameras, we do all maintenance and repair for all the brands we carry. And if we can’t repair something, we organise it to be returned to the manufacturer wherever they may be – Taiwan, China, Hong Kong – it all goes through us. 

“We are the service centre for all Samsung CCTV cameras in Australia,” Kalaw says. “We repair Pelco, NUUO, Verint, American Dynamics, QVS, Fuijinon and AD. We repair full body cameras, PTZs, dome cameras. We do PTZ drives, lenses – anything and everything. We repair cameras from top to bottom – right down to board work. Obviously to do this properly we carry a lot of spare parts and components.” 

PTZ speed dome repair

Interesting, too, the service techs say that compared to sales volumes there’s a tiny percentage of devices that need servicing. Cameras generally last a long time if properly protected from the elements and when it comes to DVRs, the techs say the big failure is hard drives. 

“We repair full body cameras, PTZs, dome cameras. We do PTZ drives, lenses, anything – we repair cameras from top to bottom – right down to board work”

As we walk, Kalaw tells me there are a number of commissioning jobs currently in the process of completion. The commissioning technicians have their noses to screens setting up solutions as we walk by and we take a peek at one – a NUUO system with a flock of Samsung iPolis dome cameras arrayed around it. 

“Systems of 50 cameras or more will usually be configured here,” Kalaw tells me. “Commissioning is a process that starts with administration and supply of the necessary hardware and then moves to the service centre. Here, we build the system, install boards, load IP addresses, configure required specifications, configure switches, including wireless switches. All the integrator has to do is install the system we supply and if they have a problem, we will guide them through it.” 

Configuring NUUO

According to Kalaw, the service centre’s workload is likely to increase now QSS is carrying Tyco Security Products’ range of cameras and DVRs. 

“Tyco is a huge company with a massive product range and we will commission systems using these products as well as handling all Tyco servicing in this region – including Fiji and NZ.” 

It’s a lot of responsibility – you must have challenging moments when there’s a lot of commissioning going on and a large number of repairs come in? I ask.

“Yes, there’s pressure on all of us when it gets busy but the whole team is highly trained in all the product ranges we support and we work together to achieve our goals,” Kalaw says.

QSS service manager, Manny Kalaw

Listening in, the techs tell me they have had every workstation filled with commissioning jobs at various times. As they chat, I get a sense that those indelible challenges have created a real esprit de corps in the young service team. It’s a reflection of the changing nature of electronic security distribution that QSS has the capability to supply complex networked surveillance systems as plug and play solutions.

“I think there’s a real service culture in this company,” Kalaw says. “This service centre is one of the reasons clients love QSS – because we offer a very high level of technical support locally. All repairs, all warranty support, replacement of parts – it’s all done right here in Australia.”  

“We build the system, install boards, load IP addresses, configure required specifications, configure switches, including wireless switches. All the integrator has to do then is install the system we supply”

According to QSS, COO, Rob Rosa, having an in-house logistic, training and service centre allows QSS to deliver total solutions for clients quickly and efficiently. 

“It means we don’t need to depend on 3rd party sources to provide us repairs, warranty or pre-sales configuration as our in-house techs do all this and all our clients are a priority,” Rosa says. “When we sell an IP system it is all pre-configured with IP addresses and the set up with the specifications that customers provide to us. Installers can then literally plug-and-play the system on a site. 

“The QSS Professional Service model is based around this facility with all our other sales offices in Aust having mini service centre that can accommodate the local market without it having to be returned to Laverton North. We also use Laverton North as an overflow repair centre if required, however, most simple repairs are done locally and all the other complex requirements are carried out at the Laverton North facility.

Precommissioning setup

“For QSS it has been important to try and differentiate ourselves from the other distributors. As you can appreciate many of these others tend to outsource some of these services and then promote that they offer repairs, warranty, training and the like.” 
Rosa says outsourcing service doesn’t work well as there is no real level of control from within.

“My belief is that to offer a one-stop solution covering things like servicing and commissioning, all these processes must be under the control of the company offering them,” he explains. “QSS manages each individual process of these value-add services and all comply with our quality control and procedural standards.”

Rosa says QSS can also negotiate (dependent on project value and longevity) advance replacement with an integrator that may have contractual obligations, as opposed to sending repair items abroad as he says the company’s competitors often do. Service offshore can mean waiting up to 8 weeks for a repaired item which is unacceptable for many electronic security applications when parts, including cameras, need to be cut-over to maintain 24-hour coverage. 

Busy workbench

“All in all, I believe we have a unique business model that while many others try and emulate facilities like the QSS service centre, they can’t duplicate them,” says Rosa. “That’s why QSS is growing in a very competitive market place.”

By John Adams

“There’s a real service culture in this company. This service centre is one of the reasons clients love QSS – because we offer a very high level of technical support locally”

The QSS Laverton service team