iRed is a remote sensing consultancy which uses specialist sensors including thermal imaging, multispectral, photogrammetry and drone deployment technologies.
It does so to provide inspections, training and most recently equipment for a broad range of commercial and industrial applications.
Commercial Drone Professional caught up with Tim Mammatt, iRed’s head of solutions, to find out more.
With regards to retail, how does the business model at iRed work?
Instead of simply box-shifting, we help our customers find the most appropriate equipment for their application. To make this happen, every customer is assigned a dedicated account manager – a single point of contact for all questions, requests and support. Once assigned, our managers will work directly with our customers to understand their requirements and build a solution that meets their criteria.
Our background is in the test and inspection industry, so we’re confident in our technical knowledge of the equipment we provide. If it’s something that we wouldn’t use ourselves, we wouldn’t recommend it to our customers.
What benefits does being a DJI authorised retailer bring?
Being a DJI Enterprise Dealer gives us access to some of the industry’s leading drone inspection platforms. The software and technologies integrated into every DJI drone is second-to-none, and provides us with a perfect framework for mounting a range of payloads including thermal, multispectral and even LiDAR units.
How would you say this partnership helped in reaching £1m in turnover?
As big users of DJI equipment in both our training and inspection divisions, we already had a great working knowledge of DJI products. This knowledge enabled us to hit the ground running in terms of our partnership with DJI, and allowed us to provide a complimentary service for new and existing students who were already interested in purchasing from iRed during or after a course.
It’s because of our partnerships, expertise and experience, that we now get approached frequently by public sector organisations needing us to supply them with the best and latest equipment for their application – often including servicing and support throughout the product lifecycle.
What other partnerships do you have and how do they benefit you as a supplier?
Aside from DJI, we’re proud to have partnerships with FLIR, Parrot, MicaSense, AIR6 Systems, Gremsy, ParaZero and Topcon – to name a few! All of our partnerships are with enterprise-grade brands, all of whom are the gold-standard within their respective fields.
Talk me through the process of getting drones in stock through to sending them out to users, how does the process work from start to finish?
We always keep stock for our most popular products, such as the DJI Matrice 210 and Zenmuse XT thermal camera, however some of our products are a little more specialist. For example, we’ve partnered with AIR6 Systems to offer a heavy payload UAV for LiDAR systems. As these are often customised for specific jobs and applications, these systems are often made to order.
I see on your website you have linked to a number of customers, how does a relationship between iRed and a customer work?
We pride ourselves on having a number of solutions for a wide range of industries. Because of this, we often engage with our customers on a number of levels. For example, once we’ve supplied a drone or a camera to a customer, they’ll often come back to attend a sensor-specific training course. We also have customers that occasionally need additional pilots, inspectors or report generation for large contracts, which our inspections division can assist with.
Some of those organisations, like the police forces and Thames Water, are important ones with vital work to do. Do you feel a certain level of responsibility in supplying those customers?
Of course! This is one of the reasons why we have flexible support packages to ensure no down-time to services. Our packages can provide 24/7 support for 365 days a year, courtesy drones and even configuration and hand-over training.
Our customers are the most important part of our business, which is one of the reasons why we provide technical advice and support to all customers, regardless of how much they spend or what they purchase. In doing so, our customers get the assurance that if they need help, they know one of our team will be available.
Is it good to see your work in supplying drones to organisations like that being used to put drones to work in a beneficial way for the general public?
Absolutely! It’s great to see how drones and different sensors are being used in new and exciting ways. Not only does it help improve the public perception of drones, but these innovations help drive the industry forward.
When it comes to after-sales, what type of longer term support do you offer?
We have a range of support options tailored for small businesses, global brands and government agencies. Often these organisations have specific requirements, so rather than offer a broad package, we tailor our support to the needs of our clients.
With regards to retail, what do you offer that your competitors do not?
Our niche has always been our real-world experience. When iRed started back in 2002, we were a test and inspection company focused on thermal imaging technology. Over the years, we’ve gradually started to incorporate more remote sensing technologies, which has resulted in us having more experience with remote inspections than any other competitor.
This experience means that not only do we know the most up-to-date inspection techniques, but we utilise them and the equipment ourselves. Our experience also extends to our training courses, which have been recognised in the form of either accreditation or approval from Lantra, BINDT, ABBE and the UKTA – along with partnerships with the University of Portsmouth, University of Plymouth and Coleg Cambria.
Looking ahead how do you plan to grow over the next 3-5 years?
Our focus has always been on innovative remote sensors and their commercial applications. Using these sensors, we aim to pioneer new and inventive inspection techniques for industry. These techniques will ultimately provide new services for our inspections division, fresh content for our training courses and exciting new combinations for our retail sales.
We’re also going to be further developing our relationships with new and existing academic institutions for learning, research and development. This will also enable us to continue to promote the benefits of drones nationwide.
Aside from this, integration with manned aviation, BVLOS and new sensor technologies are all important areas which we are starting to work in, with the ultimate aim of opening additional training centres and offices across the UK.
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