For specialist hose reel manufacturer, Quik Corp, an Australian Government innovation grant has meant a world of difference.
"The grant has meant we’ve been able to move from being a one dimensional to a multi-dimensional company," says Quik Corp’s sales manager, David Wardle.
Quik Corp received almost $370,000 from the government’s business program delivery division, AusIndustry.
The Queensland company had been manufacturing hose reels and spraying systems for the horticultural and agricultural industries for 20 years. The new direction was sparked when customers in rural and remote areas suggested that the company’s products—used for pest and weed control—could also be a local solution for fire outbreaks.
"We’ve been able to change our tack and over the past eight years, we’ve adapted our products for fire fighting, mining, hydraulics, oil and petrol uses," says Wardle. "In fact we’ll look at any situation where people have to transfer liquids.
"When you’ve been manufacturing one type of product for a while, you might be able to bend 10 degrees to suit a new market.
"But the AusIndustry grant has allowed us to bend 90 degrees and really change what we were doing."
Quik Corp received its grant in 2003 to develop the Multi-Pump Fire Fighting system.
The big feature is the ability to switch between (or use simultaneously) high pressure/low flow and low pressure/high flow water pumping.
"It enables you to fight a huge variety of fires using the one system," says Wardle.
"And being able to change the flow means you can use six times less water—say if you’re just dealing with a small grass fire—while having the peace of mind that you can increase the water output if needed.
Quik Corp consulted with 10 fire authorities throughout Australia and used this research to develop and fine tune its system, explains Wardle.
Quik Corp manufactures and installs the systems—with many motor and hose options—to slide onto the back of a ute, four wheel drive or truck.
Another feature is their labour saving hose reel. Most hose reels in Australia needed to be hand cranked back in, or were powered to rewind hose onto the reel, explains Wardle. "The problem is, if you don’t wind it back exactly then you have to remove the hose and wind it back again.
"When people are tired after fighting a bushfire, the last thing they want to think about is making sure the hose is wound back exactly right.
"We’ve developed a guider system which winds the hose back neat from any angle.
"And you don’t even need to be back at the truck, you can be out at the end of the hose and have it wind back remotely," adds Wardle.
The system has now been bought by groups such as the Queensland Rural Fire Service, the South Australian Country Fire Service and the Victorian Country Fire Authority.
Next on the agenda will be building up an export market. There had been a lot of interest from the Middle East and Asia for a simple, functional fire fighting vehicle, says Wardle