ECM Technologies sheds light on the night vision gear trend in the private security sector


As criminals take advantage of the cover of darkness, especially during load shedding, more South African security guards want to “see before being seen.”

Eric Milburn of ECM Technologies said the top tier of the security industry is becoming more professional and well-trained therefore they are also equipping themselves with new technologies to differentiate themselves from the other players.

Night vision gear is one such technology.

“Whilst there is still a role for the traditional security guard walking around with a flashlight, the modern security officer is often faced with sophisticated criminals who are armed and dangerous. In those circumstances switching on a flashlight only serves as a target for the criminal.”

“The security officer needs to be able to conduct surveillance without giving away his own position or presenting as a target. In such cases, night vision becomes a necessity. The night vision can be a simple handheld device or can also be weapon mounted. Some of the larger security companies have their own helicopters and most of their pilots make use of night-vision aviator goggles,” he explained.

ECM Technologies stocks a full range of night vision products in different modes and using different technologies, which have become popular in the private security industry.

“Our night vision devices are small, lightweight and easy to use,” Milburn said.

The Image Intensified Night Vision is what most people think of when they hear the term night vision.

It is the “traditional” green image that is often shown in movies, and whilst this “green phosphor” image intensified (I²) night vision is still sold in large quantities, the preference for most users has shifted to “white phosphor” I² products which is more like a black & white image. I² products are available in many configurations.

“For example, we offer a multi-use monocular (MUM) which can be used as a hand-held device but can also be head or helmet-mounted or even weapon-mounted. The MUM is sold as a kit and comes complete with a head mount and a weapon mount in the box. Helmet mounting required the purchase of a separate helmet mount,” Milburn said.

The Low Light C-MOS Night Vision is a low-cost solution that can be used in urban environments where there is usually a fair amount of ambient light. These are available as handheld devices.

Then there is Thermal Imaging.

“Most of our thermal imaging products are only available to military or government clients but we do have a range of non-mil-spec thermal devices which can be sold into the commercial security industry,” said Milburn.

Different companies have different considerations, added Milburn.

“These could be price, performance, availability, after-sales service, knowledgeable sales staff, etc. Because of our wide range of product offering, we can usually tick the boxes on any of these considerations.”

The products are “very user friendly and usually only a few minutes of training is required”.

“Some of the thermal products require a bit more training to guide the customer through the various built-in menus and features. We offer on-site training when required as well as telephone support,” said Miburn.

ECM Technologies customers have had many successes with the products however, due to the nature of the industry, prefer to keep it private.

“We can in general terms share the success of one particular company that was using night vision aviator goggles in a helicopter as well as our MUM devices for the personnel on the ground who had significant successes in apprehending several gangs of cable thieves. We have another customer active in anti-poaching who has many success stories of how their night vision equipment played a critical role in capturing poachers,” said Milburn.

“The private security industry is being called on to support the SAPS, as evidenced during the recent election and is still currently in KZN. This will require the security industry to be well-equipped if they are to step up to the task.”
Eric Milburn

Milburn is an industry leader with decades of experience.

ECM Technologies started in 1985 as a one-man business specialising in optical products. The company has grown over the last 39 years to become a leading supplier in the defence and law-enforcement markets.

The company is now South Africa’s leading supplier of CBRN defence products and is also the No.1 supplier of EOD and C-IED products to the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the South African Police Service.

The original optical products business has grown into large portfolio of optics, electro-optics and sensors servicing the SANDF as well as a host of defence OEMs and contractors.

ECM Technologies also has a Mobility division that specialises in the supply of premium tyres (ECM is the exclusive military distributor of Pirelli Tyres) as well as run-flat systems to military and security clients.

The company also supplies many of its products to the private security industry, a fast-growing market, and has a wholesale division supplying commercial tactical products through a large network of retail stores countrywide.

“Our vast array of ‘latest-technology’ products, our reputation for customer service, including though-life support for many of the products that we sell sets us apart,” said Milburn.

“Our knowledgeable sales staff and product specialists and our in-house service centre. We assemble, purge and calibrate most of our night vision products locally and we are unique in our ability to service and repair night vision equipment in South Africa, This is especially important for the aviator products which need to be calibrated regularly in order to comply with Civil Aviation requirements,” said Milburn.