Brigade Electronics

Who are Brigade Electronics?

Chris Hanson-Abbott formed Brigade Electronics in 1976, inspired by the strange beeping sound he heard emanating from the rear of a small truck on a street in Tokyo.

At the time reversing safety had not been addressed outside of Japan, but with the Health & Safety at Work Act recently passed into UK law and vehicles already accounting for a vast number of fatalities, Chris felt it time for change.

With support from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Brigade launched its first reversing alarm at the 1976 Commercial Vehicle show in London. The reaction was mixed. The press was curious, but the vehicle manufacturers and fleet owners were less enamoured, and the show ended without a single sale. To add insult to injury the publicity culminated in the Department for Transport announcing that reversing alarms contravened the Construction & Use Regulations – and were thus illegal.

Undeterred, Chris continued his quest for safer roads and worksites. He challenged the mind set of potential customers and lobbied the Government tirelessly to change regulations until eventually his drive and belief saw his vision start to be taken seriously. It took a further two years before Brigade’s first alarm sale, to a prestigious UK bus company, and many more years for health and safety culture to be fully addressed. Nowadays, vehicle safety systems are universally accepted as a necessity for plant and commercial vehicles and this progress has undoubtedly played an important part in saving many lives.

The experience and knowledge gained since those early days has enabled Brigade to fully understand the industry and the problems customers face. Brigade was, and still is, at the forefront of the industry, whether this be pioneering new products or opening and educating new markets around the world.

The initial vision remains; to make roads and worksites safer for all.

How can Brigade help improve your fleet safety?

SM UK has been installing Brigade's safety systems for a number of years, and the general feedback from HGV fleet operators is that they have seen a decrease in amount of incidents and insurance claims, and in the long term have saved money. So how can each element help you improve your safety?


Just like with HGV's, it is possible to have a varying number of cameras installed onto your van. Anything from a 2 camera system through to a 4 camera system with a driver camera can help to improve the safety of the vehicle, and the overall awareness of the driver. For example, if you chose a 3 camera system to be installed onto your van fleet, this would include a forward facing camera, and 2 blind spot cameras - one on the nearside wing, and one of the offside wing pointing down the side of van.


Known as Ultrasonic Detection systems, the sensors can be installed onto either the front of your van or the rear, just like parking sensors on your car! The warning system can then be wired into a speaker in the vehicle to alert the driver of an obstacles that could be in their vicinity.

Internal and External Warning alarms

Coupled with one of the systems above, an internal warning alarm can alert the driver to an obstacle that could be in their blind spot that they wouldn't have otherwise seen. A small speaker in the cab will notify the driver, but not distract.


The installation of any camera system will also include the installation of a monitor into the cab. Also produced by Brigade themselves, it is the perfect size to show a split 4-way screen of footage from around a vehicle, which in turn helps the driver have a clearer idea of what is happening around their vehicle, and eliminates blind spots. 

Driver Cams

An additional camera which is installed into the cab to record the driver. It should be noted that this camera will only be live and record once the ignition is turned on.


Depending on the amount of cameras installed, and the type of vehicle will depend on the footage shown and amount recorded. Brigade camera's come as individual items, and it is SM UK that piece these together into packages that best suit the customer. Therefore it is possible to have anything from a 2 camera system, or a 5 camera system installed to help keep your vehicle, driver and VRU (Vulnerable Road User) safer on the road during operation.

Brigade Camera Systems

What can be installed?

SM UK has developed a strong relationship with Brigade since it began in 2000, and has installed the below onto HGV's for many years now, and has now expanded this offering onto their van conversions:
- Cameras
- Sensors
- Internal and External Warning alarms
- Monitors
- Driver Cams