JULY 2, 2009--ULIS (Veurey-Voroize, France; www.ulis-ir.com), a high-volume manufacturer of infrared detectors for IR cameras, has expanded the production capacity of its microbolometers from 50,000 to 200,000 units per year.
The company is augmenting its production capacity to meet growing trends for lower-cost IR detectors used by trade professionals for application in thermometry.
ULIS sees three market drivers that supports its ramp-up: the emerging trend to add infrared capability to visible surveillance cameras (about 25 million are currently installed worldwide); government mandates for improved safety; and new regulations in energy conservation and building compliance.
"This upgrade is a first step in a capacity extension plan that will address the market for large-scale orders, 100K-plus," says Jean-François Delepau, managing director of ULIS. "Customers can be assured of a ready and available supply that hits mass-market target price points, enabling them to be aggressively more competitive in the market."
According to ULIS, trade professionals are increasingly using thermal imagers to inspect building equipment. For example, with the help of an IR camera, plumbers can check the water temperature of pipes embedded in underfloor heating and allow them to adjust the distribution of the heat. There are roughly 240,000 plumbing enterprises in Europe. "With a camera price below EUR2000, these enterprises could benefit from the advantages IR detectors can bring," adds Delepau.
The ramp-up is also an outcome of the double-digit compound growth ULIS has been experiencing every year since its founding in 2002, when it was spun off from CEA-Leti, a European micro- and nanotechnologies R&D center, and Sofradir (Paris, France; www.sofradir.com, a provider of cooled IR detectors. GE Equity replaced CEA-Leti as minority shareholder in 2008.
Included in the extension plan are new buildings to accommodate staff growth (+25% in 2008), a new training center for customers to test-run microbolometer products, and a production ramp-up of its new high-definition, 17-µm IR detector, which it introduced to the market earlier in 2009. The new buildings will enable a future production capacity of up to 500,000 units per year.
ULIS is ranked number 3 in the world for uncooled IR detectors, after DRS Technologies and FLIR (source: "The World Market for Commercial and Dual-Use Infrared Imaging and Infrared Thermometry Equipment Report," Maxtech International Inc., 2008). The company says it was among the first to deploy its IR detectors in cameras used to conduct health checks at airports and other public places, initially for SARS and more recently to detect swine flu.
-- Posted by Vision Systems Design, www.vision-systems.com