"We endeavor to serve the world with the best of the surveying technologies."Says Steven Xu is CEO of Hi-Target Surveying Instrument, in an interview with Coordinates
Hi-Target catch-phrase is ‘Surveying the world, Mapping the future’. Could you please elaborate the thought behind it?
Hi-Target has been a leading brand in the Geo spatial, GNSS, and allied technologies market. However, our ambitious is to be the leading and professional provider of high-precision Survey & GNSS instrument and solutions in the world. We work for the development of the same all across the globe. We focus not only on the current development but also keep innovating and increase investment in R&D. We endeavor to serve the world with the best of the surveying technologies for a better future. That is our objective and that is our business. The catch phrase ‘ Surveying the world, Mapping the future’ very well summarizes our ambitious, plans, business and more importantly—our vision.
Mention a few achievements in the field of surveying & GNSS from the house of Hi-Target.
In the journey of 15 years, there are several accomplishments we would like to share. Hi-Target has gone through the several stages of development-from an instrument manufacture to the integration of devices to data services and now as a solution provider. The transformation from a ‘manufacture’ to a ‘service provider’ not only highlights the responsive approach of the company but also emphasizes the organizational capability and adaptability to evolutionary technological development in our related techno ecosystem. This is further reinforced in our entry and expansion, in due course of time, to various technology and application areas such as GPS/GNSS, photoelectric surveying, GIS data managing, marine surveying, UAV, 3D laser system instrument, BDS high-precision applications, precision agriculture, precision machine control, indoor localization solution, etc.
The other achievement worth mentioning is the wonderful human resource we have developed. Our team is competent, knowledgeable and highly qualified. HI-TARGET employs more than 1,600 employees. As a company, we understand very well the importance of Research and Development (R&D) and we invest heavily on that. This is visible by the fact that the 30% of our workforce actually constitute our research team; and over 10% of them are professors or they hold PhDs.
We have established several R&D centers and cooperate with many domestic and overseas universities for the research in the field of satellite navigation technology, high-end marine application, 3D laser scanning, etc.
Hi-Target has also launched its self-developed BDS compatible and high-precision BDS motherboard. We have made breakthroughs in the Ultrasonic and 3D laser key technology. In fact, our high-end Marine Survey equipment and 3D Laser Scanning system have totally changed the high-end survey equipment market in China. We have also realized the centimeter level accuracy in indoor positioning.
What are the key factors kept in mind while developing a new product? What kind of R&D is carried out while designing the same?
We are very much aware the fast pace of evolution of the technologies and accordingly changing customers’ needs and approach. We understand that our customers need high quality products with excellent performance. In addition, we track the market trends, comprehend challenges and realities.
There are many new application areas emerging. We keep many such factors under consideration while developing new products. To facilitate this, we heavily focus on R&D, have developed great human resources and interact with other leading Chinese and international research institutes. Our objective remains to provide our customers best of the products and services.
How do you see growth of UAV business? What are the challenges that it faces? What kind of offering does Hi-Target have in this segment?
UAV is making serious inroads in our domain. The technology is promising and prospects are bright. The technology is being applied to many application areas including agriculture, survey, exploration, forestry, etc. Just like smartphone, it is set to revolutionize this industry. According to a report Frost & Sullivan, the total value of UAV estimated to be around 7.3 billion dollars.
In 2015, Hi-Target has acquired Tianjin Tengyun Zhihang Tech Co., Ltd to enter into UAV market. This company is specialized in UAV core technology and product development, and has a strong R&D team, which has designed more than ten years of UAV products. With this acquisition, Hi-Target is dedicated to provide customers with good product and good service at a good price in this segment. This year, Hi-Target will release its first UAV products. In future, Hi-Target will make investment in Fixed-wing UAV and Rotor UAV and promote its application in agriculture, survey and other areas.
We are developing our understanding of the dynamics, consumer needs, emerging applications areas and the kind or solutions being sought. However, we should also realize the growth of UAV may be hindered in some countries due to restrictions imposed by aviation and security agencies.
How is your collaboration with the China GNSS system, Beidou? Would you like to comment about other GNSS systems - both existing and under development and Hi-Target product’s compatibility with them?
Hi-Target always pays close attention and support to the Chinese Beidou system construction and development. We are the authorized manufacture of Chinese Beidou Management department. Since 2012, our products are totally compatible with Beidou. In fact, not only Beidou, most of the products support GPS and Glonass also. In the next two years, Hi-Target products will finally realize the support of BDS/GPS/GLONASS/GALILEO and regional navigation system like IRNSS, SBAS (EGNOS, SDCM, GAGAN, and WASS). This will enable to us play a large role in international market.
How will you compare business opportunities in the domestic markets in China vis-avis international? What are the key differentiators?
Chinese market and international market is very different. Even the international market is widely diverse. The difference is largely due to the various stages of economic development, and hence requirements for the survey devices and technology are also very different.
For example, some developing countries are still at the early stage of development and there primary need is to establish and build the basic data and infrastructure. Their demands for surveying equipment are still rising, however, in developed countries, the urban constructions are almost complete and here the need is more of surveying and mapping services and applications.
Though China is a developing country, but it has complicated marketing requirements given the scenario that different parts of the country are at different levels of the development.
Hi-Target will continue to strengthen the development in Chinese market. We promote high-end products in Europe and North America market and will increase investment in Africa and Asia.
Please comment about the growth prospects of business in 2016. What new products or new segments is Hi-Target going to target in 2016?
The economic uncertainty in both China as well as in international market is presently quite high. Given this, our perception is that the growth in traditional survey market may face a slowdown. However, for the high-end and new technology areas like 3D Laser scanner and UAV, the demand is likely to grow.
Therefore, we shall look towards increasing our investment for the development of the high-end products and increase our efforts in the international market with the stable 3D Laser scanner products (like Terrestrial Laser scanner and Mobile Mapping System), Hi-end Marine survey products ( like multi-beam echo sounder, ADCP, Long &Ultra Short Baseline Underwater Acoustic Positioning System), Indoor high-precision positioning, UAV, etc.