Retail, Innovation and Manufacturing reporter for the NZ Herald

Kinaroad sends first robot to Oz

Kinaroad chief executive Scott Fenton says his surf board shaping robots can produce 7000 boards a year. Photo / Supplied
Kinaroad chief executive Scott Fenton says his surf board shaping robots can produce 7000 boards a year. Photo / Supplied

Robotic surf board shaping technology company Kinaroad has sent its first machine to Australia and is eyeing up further expansion this year.

The Auckland-based company has worked with smaller customers in New Zealand but never in full production capacity, says chief executive Scott Fenton, who describes the Australian deal as its first full production deployment.

The company produces robots capable of building and laminating surf boards in five days. Each machine can produce up to 7000 boards a year, compared to around 1200 by hand.

Kinaroad chief executive Scott Fenton said the company had been in research and development mode since 2010 when the initial concept was planned, and it was exciting to have its first international customer.

"We've deployed one of our robotic shaping systems into the customer's factory over in Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast, and that's in an area where there are around 30,000 boards made [annually], so as a first step into the Australian market its great to get into a factory in that area," Fenton said.

The company operates a recurring revenue model, installing machines for the customer but retaining ownership and undertaking machine maintenance. The company is then paid a small fee for each board produced.

Each machine is valued at about $350,000 and Fenton said the model worked well for businesses of all sizes.

"It's good for the customer because they don't have a high capital investment to get started," Fenton said. "One of the headaches for companies like this is when they buy a capital asset, having to deal with maintenance and who can fix it if anything breaks, so we're taking a big headache off their hands."

Fenton said the design software and robotic building technology allowed for low-cost and consistent manufacture with the ability to tailor board shape and aspects such as inserts.

The manufacturing operation can be packed into four containers, making it easily shipped worldwide.

The company hopes to continue growth in Australia before expanding into the California market.

- NZ Herald

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