US Roofing Market In For Shake Up From Kiwi Tech
US Roofing Market In For Shake Up From Kiwi Technology
The pioneering, can-do spirit that made corrugated iron sheets synonymous with New Zealand landscape is leading to highly innovative corrugated roofing products spearheading their way into the traditional US market.
Research into the science of corrugating steel for new products and applications is underway at roofing specialists, Metrotile ( part of the Ross Roofing Group.) The first stage of the two part project is already on the way to the company’s manufacturing plant in the US, and the ultimate aim is to provide a whole new perspective for a uniquely US roofing style.
Torry McSkimming, Metrotile general manager explains: “The ‘shake’ roof is peculiar to the US. Traditionally these are made of wood and need to be replaced regularly. Also, they have potential to be a fire risk and often are severely damaged by hailstorms in some areas.”
“We figured there had to be a better system than wood, one that would last 3-5 times longer and have all the aesthetic attributes that the market required. We already had a distribution channel in the US, and had established a name for our steel roofing products, so we weren’t going in cold. ”
Metrotile was one of the first companies to receive funding from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology’s new Grants for Private Sector Research and Development (GPSRD) scheme, launched late last year.
The grant of $55,000 helped the company fast-track research using in-house design and external consultants to design and produce machinery used in the production of the new profiled tile.
“We had some problems to overcome, and Technology New Zealand’s funding was useful to help us get to grips with pressing the steel to get the outcome we needed. Too hard and it cracks, and too soft it won’t give the profile we need to make the shakes lap properly and not leak.”
The R&D was completed in quick time “we made a concentrated effort and really shot ahead, which has got to be a testament to the expertise of the design team,” says Mc Skimming. The company is now part way through research into precision die making to get the right profile.
“Although we could be called a conventional manufacturing company, we are strong believers in the value of R&D to stay ahead,” says Mr McSkimming. “To keep in front you have got to be thinking ‘new’ all the time. The GPSRD funding was useful in assisting with the cost of the research, but interestingly it was also useful to fine-tune our company procedures. We had to get our plan together and specify how everything was going to fit before we applied for funding.”
Metrotile manufactures in New Zealand for its export
markets in North and South America, the Middle East and
Africa as well as the domestic market.
* Torry McSkimming, Metrotile, 09 299 9210
*John Gibson, Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, 04 917 7863 www.technz.co.nz
Grants for Private Sector R&D
*This is the newest scheme run under the Technology New Zealand umbrella, launched in September 2000.
*Grants are targeted specifically to technologically aware SMEs (usually less than $50m turnover). The aim is to increase the level of private sector expenditure of R&D.
* Support of up to 33.3% of R&D costs, to a maximum of $100,000 is available for qualifying projects.
* Latest figures show that around $1.5m per month is being invested in private sector R&D projects by GPSRD.
*The scheme has allocated more than $10.5 million, to 179 companies, in the period September –March.
* GPSRD is the first of the Technology New Zealand schemes to operate exclusively via the Internet, with initial registration through its website, www.technz.co.nz.