We step in­side Data­tool se­cu­rity to see how they beat bike crime

A pi­o­neer in elec­tronic mo­tor­cy­cle se­cu­rity back in the ’80s , Data­tool re­main 100% British and are a world leader

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Contents -

This is why we make ev­ery­thing in the UK,” says Data­tool’s MD Mark Down­ing, bran­dish­ing the in­tri­cate wires of an alarm’s wiring har­ness. “It’s all to do with qual­ity – and if you make the things your­self you con­trol the qual­ity. There are two key things to cre­ate re­li­a­bil­ity in elec­tri­cal com­po­nents: the cir­cuit board and the wiring har­ness. Get the qual­ity right and the prod­uct will be re­li­able.”

Data­tool and life-long biker Mark are un­sung he­roes of British man­u­fac­tur­ing. When Mark bought the busi­ness from a face­less PLC in 2009, the com­pany were al­ready the mar­ket leader but all their prod­ucts were made in China. Mark soon fixed that by bring­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing back to the UK and cre­at­ing a host of new jobs. Now ev­ery Data­tool prod­uct fit­ted to bikes is de­signed, de­vel­oped and made in the UK. They em­ploy 75 peo­ple in ev­ery­thing from R&D to qual­ity con­trol and they even host 24-hour, seven-days-per-week con­trol room mon­i­tor­ing.

Data­tool have two fa­cil­i­ties nes­tled on a Chor­ley in­dus­trial es­tate and the first is a cli­mate-con­trolled, air-fil­tered, man­u­fac­tur­ing plant – that’s like some­thing from Sil­i­con Val­ley. It’s so clean that vis­i­tors must en­ter with plas­tic cov­er­ings over their shoes while Mark him­self wears spe­cial anti-static shoes. “Static can ruin a printed cir­cuit board,” he says. “So the floor coat­ing is con­duc­tive and dis­charges static

‘Get the qual­ity right and it will be re­li­able’

to a con­trolled point via a cop­per strip un­der the floor.”

In­side is a hive of ac­tiv­ity. There are ma­chines print­ing cir­cuit boards be­fore ro­bot arms pop­u­late them with CPUS, re­sis­tors, and diodes. They can make 1000 a day, if needed. All around are peo­ple as­sem­bling track­ers and alarms (they won’t let us pho­to­graph the out­sides of them as they don’t want thieves know­ing that they look like), test­ing them on ex­pen­sive com­put­ers and down­load­ing soft­ware. This is a proper tech com­pany.

Later we are led into the con­trol room for the track­ers. Data­tool’s big­gest seller is now be­ing of­fered free of charge with ev­ery new Honda and they’ve had a huge up­take. Here there are four full-time spe­cial­ists wait­ing to act on in­for­ma­tion about po­ten­tially stolen bikes. Typ­i­cally, they get three to five alerts a day. They no­tify the owner if a bike has moved with­out their con­sent and can as­sist the po­lice to re­cover the bikes. “85-90% of bikes stolen with our track­ers are re­cov­ered,” says Mark. “We’re here to as­sist own­ers and make sure they get their bikes back. Peo­ple say they can get cheap track­ers on ebay, but they don’t have this level of sup­port.”

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