A Q&A With Mike Pickup

Our Engineering Director answers your questions from our LinkedIn page

Meet Mike, a Chartered Engineer with 30+ years' experience in high security and 18 years of military service in hostile environments. Mike specialises in Force Protection Engineering and weapon effects on structures.

What’s your role at DIRICKX Systems?

As Engineering Design Director, I’m responsible for the technical design and development of current and future products at DIRICKX Systems. I also oversee the ISO 9001 accreditation, and act as technical lead on all joint venture partnerships we’re involved in.


Does your military experience play an important part in your current role?

I would say my military experience is critical for this role. Having first-hand experience in Force Protection Engineering and being deployed on military operations has given me a unique insight into the requirements of defensive products, both in terms of their application and design. Being able to speak the ‘military language’ and understand all the acronyms used is also a distinct advantage when talking to both current and ex-service personnel.


Do you miss being in the military?

Yes - and no! There are certain things about the military which I really miss, but there are lots that I don’t. It’s great to work with ex-military people, because we typically think alike and share the same frustrations. Fortunately, DIRICKX Systems employs a number of ex-military personnel, which I think sets us apart from other similar organisations. Having military experience is one thing; having experience specifically in a Force Protection Engineering role is something else entirely, and that’s what makes us unique.

Having made the transition yourself, what advice can you give to those preparing to leave the military for civilian work?

This is a difficult question to answer, because people leaving the military have a wide range of different capabilities and experience, and their expectations are also affected by the position they held prior to leaving military service. There is no doubt in my mind that the military offers something unique and of value to the commercial world. I think the best advice I could give is to work out what you want to do when you leave the military, and to start preparing for it years beforehand, for example by taking courses and qualifications which are transferable to civilian life.


What made you and the team decide to start DIRICKX Systems?

I think it was the fact that we all really enjoyed and took pride in what we had achieved in our former roles. After being let go from our previous company (when it moved operations abroad) we all kept in touch, despite having moved into other career roles. When some of us were approached directly by customers who we’d built relationships with, it became apparent that there was still a need for a UK-based company which could offer the technical expertise, training and know-how required for this product. Our combined military, manufacturing, logistic and commercial experience - which was in excess of 100 years - meant we were able to assemble an incredible team and provide our customers with an exceptional service, unparalleled elsewhere in the industry.

How important are physical Expeditionary Barriers in today’s line of defence?

Expeditionary Barriers, as well as barriers under current development, play - and will continue to play - a critical role in any aspect of defence, whether of an expeditionary or permanent nature. New and emerging technologies, both physical and electronic, will always be required for defensive purposes, however our Expeditionary Barriers offer an extremely safe and economical form of protection. What’s more, thanks to the experience of our team, we can advise on the best product and configuration to meet the needs of each individual client and situation, another factor which distinguishes us from our competitors.


What are the most common threats you’re asked to protect against?

In terms of common or readily available weapons, the most common threat is without doubt the AK47 and RPG, as well as indirect fire weapons such as mortars. We’re often asked to provide protection against blast from, say, a VBIED, or to protect a facility against explosive events - both intentional and accidental. We’re also seeing a lot more interest in hostile vehicle mitigation.


Do you currently have any rapidly-deployable barrier capabilities for perimeter security?

Deployment speeds for our Expeditionary Barriers vary considerably depending on the manpower and machinery available, but the filling of the units is typically what takes the most time and effort. We’re currently working on a more rapid delivery system in order to address this challenge.

There are a lot of options out there for barrier protection. What makes the solutions provided by DIRICKX Systems better?

It’s true, there are several other barrier options available, and the majority provide a good level of protection. However, the biggest differentiator between DIRICKX Systems’ solutions and other barrier systems is the knowledge behind the product. Knowing the precise capabilities of our solutions, and what a barrier system can and cannot protect against is the result of many years’ military and practical field experience: our team has the knowledge to inform each of our clients how to use our systems in the safest, most effective way.


Why is it important to get the correct advice on construction of expeditionary protective structures?

Providing the correct advice is critical when it comes to effective protection against a given threat. Simply supplying the product itself along with an installation guide is not good enough - and it’s not what we’re about. At DIRICKX Systems, we take time to understand the requirements and expectations of each individual customer, so that we can deliver the most appropriate solution available. Whenever we receive a request for a barrier configuration we ask what the application is for, so that we can check whether it’s appropriate for the customer’s requirements and where possible, suggest a more cost-effective alternative.


Last but not least, how do you pronounce DIRICKX?

Great question! Pronounce it as if the ‘ck’ is silent - “Dirix”.

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Our mission is to be customer focussed in delivering innovative systems to protect people, assets and infrastructure against a multitude of real-world threats and events.

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The original just got better.

Our EB UNITS are surface mounted, earth-filled perimeter barrier systems, engineered to defend against blast, ballistics, hostile vehicle, and secure sites and assets.

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From design to installation, bespoke solutions to the barriers you know. No matter where in the world or the threats you want to protect against, our team of experts are ready to support you and your project.