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Going With The Flow

Media information 28 November 2001

GOING WITH THE FLOW

The call of the pipes is strong for a small Auckland company specialising in finding problems in infrastructure pipelines.

About $89,000 of funding from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, through its Grants for Private Sector Research and Development (GPSRD) scheme has helped Creative Business Systems take a u-turn in direction.

It's moved from being a supplier of custom one-off software solutions to developing innovative GPS equipment linking to clever software that makes troubleshooting pipelines faster and more accurate.

The end result will give local authorities and utilities a more accurate picture of their network of pipes and enable them to use their money more efficiently in maintaining this valuable infrastructure. The software developed by Creative Business Systems contributes to the overall knowledge about a particular pipe system, with analysis of data provided by the camera ensuring that pipes being surveyed correlate to those marked on maps and that new or existing manholes are shown in their correct position.

The software's on-screen measuring tools enable a field operator to overlay the desired shape of the pipe and make observations of the effect of water level, root intrusion and deformities, as well as providing utility owners with the ability to monitor, maintain and predict flow potential.

Although developed in conjunction with GPS, the software is also being field tested with laser and sonar equipment.

The company, which employs seven people, is based at Massey University's incubator hub, the e-centre. Creative Business Systems director Trevor Logan says this has had significant benefits for the entrepreneurial company, from research expertise through to adding university graduates to the company's staff.

"Technology New Zealand funding allowed us to develop the handheld GPS used in surveying pipes and locating manholes. We also worked on supporting software that takes a video feed from the closed circuit tv down the pipes and quantifies what is seen. We can overlay a template of what the pipe should look like and do all the drawings and measurements on screen," he says.

The aptly-named CleanFlow system is already being used in parts of Auckland, Franklin and Napier, and Mr Logan says there have also been some sales to contractors in Australia. CleanFlow is the software that uses camera feeds from pipe monitoring; designed to work with all cameras on the market, it is unique, according to Mr Logan, because of its ability to integrate GPS and GIS (Geographical Information System), its wireless field application and the potential to work with laser and sonar.

He says the company has been concentrating on R&D up till now and is now embarking on a large scale marketing and capital raising exercise to fuel the next growth stage.

-end-

For more information:

- Trevor Logan, Creative Business Systems, 09 414 0694, 021 164 8326

- John Gibson, Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, 04 917 7863 or 0800 832 469..www.technz.co.nz

Backgrounder Grants for Private Sector R&D

- This is the newest scheme run under the Technology New Zealand umbrella.

- 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 $18.9 million, to 326 companies, since it was launched in September last year.

- 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.


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