How a Newmarket firm is quietly changing the foundations of heavy industry
Kiwi software designer and machine manufacturer Helix Flight says a R&D project grant from Callaghan Innovation will improve scale and processes to allow the company – already a success here and overseas – to take its products to the next step.
Helix Flight makes software and machinery for producing perfect helices – often called flighting – for some of the most physically demanding heavy industry, such as turbines, anchoring, augers, agitators, piles and conveyors.
A finalist in this year’s Heavy Engineering Research Association Innovator Awards the company also recorded 500 percent sales growth in the past year.
Helix Flight managing director Daniel Coats says the success to-date owes much to strategic alliances and a smart business model.
“Our alliances with top manufacturers around the world not only benefit our business, but also help raise the profile of New Zealand engineering around the world.
“That’s important, because if you want to clinch a deal with an international partner, the first impression is vital. If they think you’re from a country that’s innovative, and creating a lot of world-leading products, that’s going to go a long way to help.”
Helix Flight’s innovations are not limited to engineering. The business model allows the company to sell their machinery at a relatively low price, and monetise the use of the equipment, and the supporting software.
“This creates an incentive for us to creating a lasting relationship with our customers, so we ask for their feedback, we work hard to get the quality right, and keep the supporting systems cutting-edge.”
Coats is developing a prototype for a third-generation, intensive wear plate capable machine for material-dependent factories, and a larger high-capacity machine for custom equipment built for the largest machines in the world. Both were identified as new customer requirements from earlier research.
R & D grant support from Callaghan Innovation has helped Helix Flight in gaining scale and allowing simultaneous fully interactive processes rather than a piece-meal approach.
The R&D funding assistance has also allowed a continued ramp-up of commercialisation activities.
Coats says the funding was a significant milestone for the company, as it will be targeted to gaining a significant break-through in new markets by designing a wear plate capable machine that can form sectional helices straight from materials such as Hardox and Bisalloy.
“Evidence to date shows our new machines are durable, safer and enable improved quality and performance of end products.
“Our clients see the savings in improved performance of end products and this makes our machines very affordable. This funding will enable us to continue investing in R&D, while getting on with our current commercialisation and export growth”
Helix Flight is a very Kiwi company; quietly making a significant impact on the world of heavy engineering, delivering world-class innovation from an office in Newmarket.