Barry Armour with his side-loading ratchets. Photo by Peter
A Dunedin designed ratchet, aimed at solving a problem
encountered daily by transport companies and tradesmen, is
attracting global attention.
Barry Armour designed a side-loading ratchet which allowed
the strap to be loaded into the side of the ratchet, rather
than being threaded through.
That saved the familiar problem of the time taken to thread
the strap when loading and unloading.
While it was still in the early stages, Mr Armour was
heartened by the amount of interest in the product. The
market for ratchets worldwide was ''huge'', he said.
Truck driver Doug Ironmonger described the ratchets as a ''a
real game-changer'', saying he could save up to two hours a
day in loading and unloading time, depending on his load.
An engineer with more than three decades of involvement in
the transport industry, Mr Armour came up with the concept
three and a-half years ago.
Each step of development took a long time, and the first
production run was not made until this January. A 50mm
ratchet was about to be launched in New Zealand and
Together with his business partner David McKewen, Mr Armour
had negotiated a sales and marketing licence for the North
American retail sector.
That had resulted in two big retail chains agreeing to stock
the new ratchet in more than 350 stores, while other chains
were also showing interest.
The upfront licence fee also provided valuable working
capital to continue with the commercialisation plan, Mr
Discussions were under way with American companies interested
in licensing or distribution rights, while a German partner
had field trials under way in Europe.
Last month, national patent applications were filed in 17
countries, plus an additional 37 countries covered under the
European Patent Office.
Such an extensive patenting programme for a small company was
only possible due to the company discovering and using
technology-based patent filing company Inovia, Mr McKewen
''By using Inovia's innovative software platform, backed up
by a network of patent attorneys in market, we were able to
cut our bill by under half of what it would have faced using
the traditional patent firms,'' he said.
The reduction in patent filing costs meant the company was
able to get protection in more countries than it had
originally planned, while keeping some money aside for
continuing market development, he said.
The early success also provided the company with confidence
to invest in the tooling required for commercial production
of a 32mm ratchet, designed to meet the needs of tradesmen
and ''DIYers'', Mr Armour said.
The new product range would be marketed in conjunction with
Mr Armour's technology export company Armour Transport
Technologies, which already marketed load anchor and
crouching truck technologies offshore.
He had another product in the offing, but could not yet
reveal details about it, he said.