We are a world leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of thermal imaging systems. Our products are used in a wide variety of applications in commercial, industrial and government markets worldwide. We offer a variety of system configurations to suit specific customer requirements. In 2009, our business was organized into three divisions: Thermography, Commercial Vision Systems and Government Systems.
Thermography products are generally sold for commercial and industrial applications, typically where imaging and temperature measurement together are required. Products range from highly sensitive cameras with extensive analytic capabilities and sophisticated image processing to less expensive cameras offering excellent performance and value for less demanding applications. Our Thermography products range in price from $2,000 for an inexpensive hand-held camera to over $150,000 for our most sophisticated science cameras. Our strategies in this business are to continue to develop products for high-end applications while introducing new products at lower price points, and to capitalize on highly price-elastic demand in numerous emerging markets. Revenue from Thermography has grown at a compound annual rate of 15 percent since 2001 and was $285.5 million or 25 percent of consolidated revenue in 2009.
Commercial Vision Systems (“CVS”) is focused on emerging commercial markets for infrared imaging technology where the primary need is to see at night or in adverse conditions, such as through smoke or light fog. As the cost of infrared technology has declined, demand in large untapped markets such as commercial security, automotive, marine, airborne and first responder markets has grown rapidly. CVS has focused its efforts on expanding distribution, accelerating design cycles, reducing manufacturing costs and providing excellent customer service in these markets. Our infrared sensor business, which sells focal plane arrays and camera cores internally as well as to third parties on an original equipment manufacturer (“OEM”) basis, is also a part of CVS. CVS products range in price from under $1,000 for an OEM imaging core to more than $300,000 for a high definition airborne system. Since 2005, CVS revenue has grown at a compound annual rate of 25 percent. CVS revenue was $206.3 million or 18 percent of our consolidated revenue in 2009. Government Systems (“GS”) is focused on government customers and markets where very high performance is required. Typical applications include surveillance, force protection, drug interdiction, search and rescue, special operations and target designation. We address these markets through either a commercial, off-the-shelf (“COTS”) model or a commercially developed, military qualified (“CDMQ”™) model. Products developed under the COTS model are applicable to a range of government customers and markets, including military applications. CDMQ products are specifically designed to meet military specifications. In both the COTS and CDMQ product development models, we use internally generated funds for research and development, and generally own all rights to the products and their design. We have continued to increase our emphasis on CDMQ as a development strategy, and it is a growing part of our GS business. We also periodically accept government funded design and development contracts. GS products are often customized for specific applications and frequently incorporate additional sensors, including visible light cameras, low light cameras, laser rangefinders, laser illuminators and laser designators. GS products range in price from under $10,000 for certain hand-held and weapon-mounted systems to over $1 million for our most advanced stabilized laser designation systems. Since 2005, GS revenue has grown at a compound annual rate of 28 percent. GS is our largest division with 2009 revenue of $655.3 million, or 57 percent of consolidated revenue in 2009.
On December 10, 2009, we announced that the Company would consolidate its Commercial Vision Systems and Thermography divisions into one unit, the Commercial Systems division, effective January 1, 2010. The new division will continue to focus on the large potential for growth in commercial and industrial markets, and will create value from commonality in distribution, customers and strategic product development focused on uncooled infrared technology. For 2010, however, we will continue to report the financial results of the former Commercial Vision Systems division and Thermography division as we undergo the transition of consolidating these two segments. As we expect Thermography and Commercial Vision Systems to be substantially consolidated by the end of 2010, we expect to report the financial results for Commercial Systems as a single segment in 2011.
For additional information concerning the Company’s three divisions, including revenues from external customers, earnings from operations and total assets by segment, see Note 17 to the Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 8.
FLIR Systems, Inc. is an Oregon corporation and was incorporated in 1978. The Company’s headquarters are located at 27700 SW Parkway Avenue, Wilsonville, Oregon 97070-8238, and the telephone number at this location is (503) 498-3547. Information about the Company is available on our website at www.flir.com.
Products and Markets
Thermography. The Thermography market has traditionally addressed thermal imaging applications where both imaging and temperature measurement are required. This market has grown in size and breadth as prices have declined, volumes have increased and new applications have emerged. Over the past several years, markets have grown rapidly and expanded beyond the traditional industrial predictive and preventive maintenance segments. We expect new markets to continue to develop in the future.
Thermal imaging systems are used for monitoring the condition of mechanical and electrical equipment. Such monitoring assists our customers in identifying equipment faults (manifested as hot spots) so they can be repaired before they fail. This increases equipment productivity and avoids catastrophic failures or major damage, which reduces operating expenses by lowering repair costs and reducing downtime. Improved functionality of image analysis software, smaller size and weight, and simplicity of system operation are critical factors for this well established market segment.
Research & Development
Infrared’s unique ability to detect very small differences in temperature while detailing complex thermal dynamics and patterns makes Thermography systems a useful tool in a wide variety of research and development applications. Our systems provide the ability to view thermal distribution in real time for products ranging in size from small hybrid integrated circuits to jet engines. Common applications include product development of microelectronics, cell phones, laptop computers, telecommunications equipment, consumer appliances, automotive components and aircraft engines. Systems used in research and development applications typically require very high imaging performance and measurement precision, coupled with extensive analysis and reporting software. We have a complete line of both cooled and uncooled infrared imagers specifically designed for high-end research and development applications.
Manufacturing Process Control
Thermal imaging applications for manufacturing process control include applications where temperature consistency is critical, including monitoring the quality of metal, plastic and glass cast parts, which are highly dependent upon the temperature distribution in the mold; monitoring the quality of paper, which is dependent upon proper and even moisture distribution during the drying process; and monitoring the quality of products such as rubber gloves, which can be thermally examined to locate abnormally warm or cool spots, indicating non-uniform thickness that may result in a quality defect.
Infrared imagers can detect missing insulation, electrical faults, water intrusion, pest infiltration, gauge energy efficiency, and help detect the presence of moisture. Market segments include building diagnostics, energy auditing and home inspection, property and facility management, HVAC and plumbing, and moisture and restoration. This market has grown rapidly as costs have declined and new uses for thermal imaging systems have emerged. Building inspection represents the largest single Thermography market for us in 2009.
Specially designed infrared systems can detect and image hydrocarbon gas emissions or leaks. Using this technology, we have established a market focused on leak detection at gas production, transmission and storage locations, as well as compliance monitoring by environmental and other regulatory agencies. New applications are emerging for this technology. For example, we now have a system that detects sulfur hexafluoride, a dangerous pollutant and potential fire hazard used as an insulator in electrical transformers. During 2008, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) modified its rules to allow optical gas imaging systems such as ours to be used in place of toxic vapor analyzers for the detection of gas leaks under leak detection programs required by the EPA.
Over the past seven years, we have successfully introduced progressively lower priced thermal imaging systems that have enabled us to expand traditional Thermography markets and open new markets for our products. These products, the latest of which is the i-family, have met with strong market acceptance in the lower-end building and electrical inspection markets, and we expect additional market segments for thermal imaging to develop as prices continue to decline. These market segments may include healthcare and screening, food service and distribution, veterinary science, automotive care, aircraft inspection, and maritime vessel inspections.
We offer fee-based training on the principles of thermography and the use of our products through ITC®, our Infrared Training Center, which provides comprehensive instruction, training, certification and applications engineering from several FLIR locations or at the customer’s site. We also license Infrared Training Centers to qualified third parties in certain countries. In 2009, nearly 11,000 people received training at our Infrared Training Centers worldwide.
Commercial Vision Systems. Commercial Vision Systems is focused on commercial markets where the primary need is to see at night and in adverse conditions. While these markets are broad and growing rapidly, they exhibit low penetration of infrared technology and require distinct distribution channels. As in Thermography, price elasticity of demand is high, and as prices fall further, we expect sales volumes to continue to increase. CVS is focused on expanding its product line and building distribution channels. Significant markets for CVS products today include:
Security and Surveillance
Thermal imaging systems have been used for surveillance and perimeter security of government, military and industrial facilities for many years. Over the past few years, we have introduced a series of lower priced, purpose built systems targeted at the commercial security market and are actively expanding distribution in this market.
Our security products are now being used to protect critical infrastructure, ports, borders, commercial sites, and residential homes. Demand for security systems utilizing thermal imaging technology is growing rapidly across all segments.
Automotive Night Vision
Since 2001, we have worked with Autoliv Electronics, a major supplier of safety equipment to the automotive industry, to offer a night vision system for passenger automobiles. Since late 2005, BMW has offered a night vision system utilizing our camera as an option in their 5-, 6-, and 7-Series automobiles. The system provides drivers with the ability to see at night and through obscurants, such as fog, at distances much further than can be seen with traditional headlights. In late 2008, the second generation of the BMW night vision system, which incorporates significant improvements, including a pedestrian warning system, was introduced on the 7-Series automobiles. In late 2009, both Audi and Rolls Royce introduced night vision systems utilizing this technology. Together with Autoliv, we expect to continue to expand the technology into new makes and models over the next several years.
Other Transportation Night Vision
We are actively promoting our products in other transportation markets, such as trucks, trains, recreational vehicles and first responder vehicles, as well as aftermarket sales in the automotive market. These markets are in the early stages of adoption of infrared technology but we believe they offer significant future growth opportunities.
In 2006, we introduced the first cost-effective infrared device specifically designed for recreational boating, cruise lines, commercial fishing and merchant marine vessels, ferries, and other maritime markets. Since then we have aggressively expanded distribution through a combination of direct sales and a network of dealers. In 2009, we launched a new line of maritime products that enhances the breadth of our product line.
We are a leader in the supply of stabilized airborne thermal imaging systems for federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Agencies with this type of equipment have the ability to track suspects, locate lost persons and provide situational awareness to officers on the ground. We also offer low cost, hand-held systems to the law enforcement market. These cameras provide a light weight, cost-effective, high performance tool for police officers and other law enforcement professionals to conduct search and rescue, surveillance, or pursuit missions.
We supply cooled and uncooled camera cores, sensors and readout integrated circuits on an OEM basis for a broad range of applications where customers require a product at a lower level of integration than a fully developed thermal imaging system. Examples of major customers in this segment are Mine Safety Appliances, Inc. (firefighting); Bullard (firefighting); Aerovironment, Inc. (unmanned aerial vehicles); Northrop Grumman Corporation (cooled cores for military applications); Hologic (readout integrated circuits for digital X-ray); and various makers of security systems worldwide.
Government Systems. Government Systems focuses on providing enhanced vision capabilities to a wide variety of military, paramilitary, law enforcement, public safety and other government customers. Our systems typically provide the capability to see over long distances, day or night, through adverse weather conditions and from a wide variety of vehicle, man portable and fixed installation platforms. Currently, the majority of our infrared imaging systems use cooled technology to identify objects from long distances; however, uncooled thermal imaging systems are growing rapidly in certain markets such as weapon sights, hand-held monoculars/binoculars, military vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles. Many of our markets require systems that operate in demanding environments such as extreme climatic conditions, battlefield and military environments or maritime conditions. Systems are often installed onto larger platforms and must be able to integrate with such other systems as aircraft avionics, radars, laser systems and large, broad-based security networks.
As of December 31, 2009, we had 2,079 employees of which 1,360 were located in the United States and 719 were located outside of the United States. We have generally been successful in attracting highly skilled technical, marketing and management personnel. None of our employees in the United States is represented by a union or other bargaining group. Certain employees in Sweden are represented by unions whose contracts are subject to periodic renegotiations. We believe our relationships with our employees and unions are good.