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Viper Imaging’s rapid growth belies its humble beginnings

Many successful businesses begin with a compelling story, and Viper Imaging is no exception.

Early in 2014, co-owners Andy Beck and Rich Shannon set out with a lofty vision of becoming the industry’s leading specialists in the design and integration of thermal imaging systems.  In addition, they wanted to provide a superior software suite compatible with most industrial control platforms.

Rich and Andy both possessed a wealth of knowledge in thermal imaging systems and industrial process monitoring from previous careers.  Experts in infrared temperature measurement, they saw a need to receive data from these thermal cameras much more quickly. And although camera prices were going down, the end users’ desire and need for more meaningful data from their thermal monitoring and detection devices was increasing at a meteoric pace.

So it was no coincidence that on their second official day in business, Viper Imaging was tapped to become one of FLIR’s main automation partners, and the rest is history!

“We took the experiences we had at other companies, and we decided to create a business that was focused on the customer and industry needs that were not being served,” says Rich Shannon. “Our work takes us all over the world, and we enjoy seeing how the relationships we have with our customers and partners are changing the face of hot spot and gas leak detection in a profound way.”

Andy Beck and Rich Shannon

What’s the story behind the name?

In early conversation around naming their business, Rich and Andy discussed how some species of snakes “see” in the infrared spectrum, sensing heat to detect danger or prey. Since this coincides with thermal monitoring accomplished by thermal imaging camera systems, they decided to name their company Viper. Descriptive in nature, they felt it made a much more interesting name than using their own surnames in the company title.

The Viper name remains even after Viper Imaging was acquired by Systems With Intelligence (SWI) in 2023. SWI recognizes the value and reputation of the Viper Imaging brand in the industrial process monitoring market, which is why the decision was made to keep the Viper name. Andy and Rich continue their leadership roles within the company, focusing on customer applications and business development. Viper headquarters in Birmingham serves as SWI’s prominent presence in the heavy industrial space in North America.

Now on a global scale, Viper customers continue to experience a strong focus on sales, service, the integration of thermal imaging cameras, and ViperVision software on a daily basis. Viper Imaging has become a leading supplier of thermal imaging systems and industrial process monitoring equipment in a short period of time. So what are some of the factors that have led to Viper’s early successes?

Viper Imaging: what sets them apart?

Both Rich and Andy emphasize that the thing that sets Viper Imaging apart is that they strive to better understand industry needs and to produce superior customer applications that address these needs in four primary industrial areas: metals; oil and gas; energy production and distribution; and industrial automation. They’ve worked tirelessly to make their organization uniquely skilled in creating custom applications for extreme (and often severe) industrial environments.

Andy Beck explains, “We wanted to create solutions that are focused on specific industrial applications. We work with the customer to understand their application process and environment. Bringing products and systems to customers that meet their needs is instrumental to our success as an organization.” And they are clearly accomplishing their mission, earning a portfolio of loyal clients such as BP, Georgia-Pacific, International Paper, Nucor, Gerdau, and many others.

Hard work and a steel-tight vision propelled Viper Imaging to the forefront of their industry

While Andy, Rich, and their team remain humble and focused working on continuous improvements, the industry has showered them with accolades that confirm their vision for the integration of thermal imaging is precisely what their customers need.  They have been recognized by CIO Applications Magazine as one of the Top 10 Machine Vision & Imaging Technology Solution Providers.  They have been awarded the status of Platinum Partner by Teledyne FLIR, a company that brings innovative sensing solutions through its thermal imaging, measurement, and diagnostics systems. And countless stories from highly satisfied customers tell the tale of a company that’s getting it right.

Viper also partners with clients by offering inspection services

Viper learned over time that while their customers needed equipment, they also needed help with ongoing reliability and process auditing services.  As a result, Viper offers several types of thermographic inspection services.  Their goal in providing these services was to be known to their clients as a trusted partner for developing complete temperature, machine vision, and plant security systems and solutions.

For example, Infrared Inspection Service is a key ongoing diagnostic “tool” designed to find hot spots or areas that indicate potential problems. In addition, on-site calibration of thermal imaging cameras and pyrometers is another service Viper Imaging offers to ensure customers’ equipment is operating as precisely as possible.

Viper believes that it’s one thing to offer their customers the right equipment but also felt led early on to provide these diagnostic and inspection services to ensure that their customers’ facilities were in a constant state of readiness to detect potential problems. This full-service approach has been the hallmark of Viper’s success.

Viper has become second to none in an industry with critical protection and safety needs

“Sometimes, our customers don’t know what they need until they need it,” says Rich Shannon. “From gas leak and hot spot protection to auditing current systems and practices, we pride ourselves on solving problems for our customers, NOT just selling products and services.”

Today’s industrial environments can’t wait on slow, disengaged vendors with regard to thermal monitoring and problem detection. Customers need a vendor who’s committed to continuous, cutting-edge development of their products and services and who is quick to respond for emergencies to your plant, refractory, vessels, flare stacks, or substations encounter.

Viper Imaging was built on these principles, and you can bet they’ll continue to be the industry experts for years to come.

Viper Imaging is a FLIR Platinum Partner and a leading supplier of FLIR-based thermal imaging systems and industrial process monitoring equipment. Our proven systems and software have been installed in a variety of industrial applications for metals, oil and gas, energy production and distribution, and industrial automation.
Viper Imaging logo, est 2014