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Intercom expert Grahame James

In this article, we are joined by intercom expert Grahame James. Grahame is the Area Manager at Commtel, who design and manufacture intercom systems under the Telguard and Optimus brands.

Here at Safeguard Systems, we’ve recently been designing and installing intercom systems using Telguard’s door entry solutions. Some of these recent installs required more technical considerations than usual, and the Telguard systems we have used were the perfect solution for the customer.

Over the past year, we have been developing and nurturing our supplier relationships and are delighted at the opportunity to collaborate on an article with Grahame and Commtel.

In this short interview, we cover the following:

  • Telguard – its history and product portfolio
  • Grahame’s experience in the security industry
  • The different types of intercom solutions Telguard offer
  • The main benefits of each system
  • The types of businesses or sectors they are best suited to
  • Expected changes in technology
  • Telguard & the Covid-19 pandemic

Let’s get started with the interview.

Grahame, tell us a bit about Telguard, its history, and its products

“It’s a fantastic story of entrepreneurship, and dedication to customer service. Back in the 1980’s our chairman, whilst working for another company, was asked to quote for a gate intercom system for a development of townhouses.

Back then, installing a system like this required extensive cabling, and digging up half the road. Cost was a prohibitive factor too, however the customer made the following remark:

“We have all got telephones, could we not rig those up to a solution?”.

Our chairman spotted a gap in the market, as no such system or solution existed. From there, we have gone from strength to strength.

In 1992 Commtel Ltd was set up to produce and promote the Telguard telephone entry solution, as the first on the market to obtain full BABT approval for our Landline based systems. This was followed in 2006 by our innovative GSM solution, harnessing the flexibility and reliability of mobile phones.

Today Commtel’s product ranges are numerous, and the Telguard brand continues to expand. From off-the-shelf products to special bespoke creations, we have something for everyone?”

Intercom expert

How long have you worked in the security industry, Grahame?

“I’ve worked in the security industry for over 3 years now.

I started with Telguard back in 2018, and have never looked back. The security industry in general is experiencing a bit of a boom, and it’s been non-stop for us during this current pandemic.

I feel incredibly fortunate to work for a market leader, who is constantly developing its suite of products. We’ve got some very interesting new products in the pipeline for the end of the 2021. We’ve listened to our customers and been able to respond to the demands of the market place which is a very exciting position to be in.”

What are the different types of intercom solution Telguard offer?

Telguard offers a range of intercom systems covering a variety of requirements.

The range includes:

Single dwelling intercom systems

“Our ML Solo and ML Solo + intercoms are arguably our biggest sellers. For domestics or small businesses where a only a single call point is required, they are perfect. With no wiring between the intercom and the recipients phone, they are quick and easy to install, and extremely cost effective. They are also ideal for retrospective installs or on listed buildings.”

Find out more.

Multiple occupancy intercoms

“For larger commercial sites or residential blocks, we have solutions for upto 1,000 call points. These units are fully bespokable and can be made to almost any size, made in brass or bronze, to incorporate access control equipment, or surface or flush fitted. We pride ourselves on being able to tailor a solution to fit almost any environment.”

Find out more.

What are the main benefits of Telguard’s systems?

“One of the key benefits and advantages our products provide is they can be installed with minimal cabling. This is perfect for any site where cabling is the biggest installation challenge.

Furthermore, as our intercoms are integrated with SIM cards, connectivity is never an issue. This is perfect for businesses operating in rural, or remote locations. Additionally, our systems are therefore perfect for businesses operating at temporary locations such as construction sites.

Our systems are incredibly easy to administer from a user experience point of view, particularly for sites with multiple occupancy. As an example, the system is programmed to notify the occupant via their mobile phone when someone is at the front door. To let someone in, all they need to do is press a button on their phone’s keypad and their visitor can enter.

Imagine if you are a block of flats or businesses operating across dozens of departments. Think about the extensive need for cabling required for such an install. The build quality is also second to none. Our 316 marine grade stainless steel units have really stood the test of time and continue to work in the harshest of environments.

The amount of technical wizardry that is also incorporated into every intercom is staggering. Even the simplest single button intercom has over 25 years worth of firmware development contained within and new installers are often amazed at how simple to install and setup they are compared to the competition.

We are about to release a new programming app which will build on the previous version and make setting up and reprogramming units, even more, user friendly.”

What types of businesses or sectors are Telguard’s intercom systems best suited to?

“As mentioned above our systems are ideally suited for installs where connectivity or cabling is a challenge. From, experience our intercoms are ideally suited to be used at:

  • Single domestic properties or gated communities
  • Residential developments
  • Office blocks – single and multiple occupancy
  • Co-working spaces – requiring multiple users for people renting desk space
  • Construction site – where a temporary access control system is needed to manage the flow of deliveries and subcontractors
  • Housing Associations – where reliability and ease of use is key
  • Schools – where controlling the access to a site is paramount
  • Solar powered solutions – often temporary building sites that have no power need to control access too. Some of our units have a very low draw and work perfectly alongside solar-powered barriers.

When it comes to intercoms, are there any expected changes in technology on the horizon?

“Now that the sunset for 2G and 3G networks has been announced, ensuring access control solutions can make use of 4G technology is key.

We launched our 4G solution in 2019 and have a very easy upgrade path to ensure most of our intercoms can be upgraded to 4G when it is required. There are plenty of solutions still being sold on that depend on technology which will be turned off between now and 2025, so we really were ahead of the curve in releasing 4G solutions when we did.

People also want to use their phones for everything these days, so we have developed our own inhouse programming and end user apps, and we are exploring more ways that end users can use their phone to interact with the intercom unit.

Video intercoms are also very much in demand, and we are currently working on a groundbreaking video solution which doesn’t exist at the moment. I don’t want to say too much about that at the moment as it’s still in development, lets just say that we are very excited to see what 2022 brings!”

The last 12 months have been unprecedented. How has the pandemic affected Telguard?

“Well, we’ve never been so busy. Security has been and is now, front-of-mind for many companies looking to provide secure access to and from its premises.

For many domestic properties, homeowners haven’t been able to go on holiday for a long time and have been spending money on their houses, including security. Commercial sites have been empty for a long time and have needed added security, but as shops and premises reopen, they are realising they need to control the number of people entering their premises too.

It’s not just commercial sales that have increased. We’ve seen a steep increase in the number of residential sites that have had Telguard intercoms installed as well and we’ve got a number of new intercoms that have recently been launched to keep up with demand from this sector too.”

Looking for an intercom for your business or site?

If you are currently looking at your intercom system options and want to find out more, here are some useful links:

Safeguard Systems – Access Control Installation

Telguard – intercom systems