Tauranga's Robotic Plus is set to benefit from ACC investment of up to $15 million to improve the wellbeing of employees in the country's most dangerous industries.
ACC's Impact Investment Fund has taken a share in the globally-recognised company to improve the health, safety, and wellbeing of New Zealanders and provide a strong investment return that helps Kiwis pay less in levies for accident cover.
Robotics Plus was developing new technology to keep forestry, agriculture and transport workers safe and was attracting global interest.
It included a robotic scaling machine that could more quickly and accurately measure the volume of timber on logging trucks, eliminating what was a dangerous manual task at ports, forestry sites and sawmills.
ACC's investment sits within the target range of $2 million to $15 million.
"We are excited to partner with Robotics Plus to take this innovative Kiwi technology to the rest of the world," ACC head of private markets Martin Goldfinch said.
"This investment was a perfect fit with our goal to ensure Kiwis stay healthy and safe while contributing to a financially sustainable scheme for the benefit of all New
"That's the impact we want to make - combining ACC's established expertise in injury prevention with its proven skill in investment management."
Robotics Plus co-founder and chief executive Steve Saunders said the investment was
"The investment will help us accelerate the development of our advanced technologies that help solve complex global problems, including robotic log scaling technology, as we scale up rapidly and enter new markets internationally whilst providing solutions domestically," he said.
Logs were New Zealand's third-biggest export, worth $4.5 billion in 2020. But log handling is also a major cause of workplace injuries, with some 17,000 active claims costing $75 million last year, ACC data shows.
Mount Maunganui-based port logistics company ISO Limited, which handles more than half of New Zealand's log exports, has recorded no injuries or fatalities in log scaling since installing 11 robotic scaling machines at sites across the North and South Islands.
The move has also allowed workers that were doing this task manually to be moved to higher-skilled positions.
Chief executive of ISO Paul Cameron said it was safer and more productive than the old manual system used around the world and requiring workers "to manually scan and measure the logs by climbing on to trucks and trailers to perform the task".
The technology was among a suite of innovative projects Robotics Plus has developed, including robotic fruit packers that reduce the musculoskeletal strains and injuries associated with repetitive manual tasks, and robots capable of a variety of tasks in