Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


Invention gives company strength

19 October 2006

Invention gives company strength

An illuminated hand rail bracket is the latest invention from a small New Zealand hardware manufacturer, intent on developing new products to stave off threats to its business from cheaper imports and create export potential.

Combining a step lighting system into a staircase handrail bracket provides one product to do the work of two in private homes and commercial buildings such as rest homes. For Auckland-based Miles Nelson Manufacturing, the invention is part of a new and necessary approach to innovation.

“We have to develop different products to protect us from the plethora of low cost Chinese imports in a competitive, oversupplied market,” says Managing Director Brenton Lee, whose grandfather started the business in 1928. Miles Nelson has concentrated on manufacturing metal hardware since 1945 and is one of the few New Zealand owned hardware manufacturers still in business.

“Developing something different is the only way a New Zealand manufacturer has any chance of survival. Anyone can go to China, source a product and put it on their shelf back in New Zealand – we need to be developing and establishing our own products.”

The new ‘Lumos’ bracket is novel and trendy and about to make its export debut on the Australian market where it is being designed into the building for a new bar on Sydney’s Circular Quay.

Mr Lee says the company had positive feedback from architects and designers during market research but it will take some months for the new staircase system to take hold because it needs to be included in early stage design rather than being added as a finishing touch.

Extensive research of appropriate casting and coating methods and production systems has gone into the product development, supported by research and development investment of almost $150,000 from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology through its Technology for Business Growth (TBG) scheme.

“Such innovation and technology shift is vital for Miles Nelson to survive market challenges. It is companies like this taking a step up to create their own intellectual property (IP) and patented products that protects New Zealand’s manufacturing base,” says Foundation Business Manager, Tom McLeod.

“The handrail system is unique, it provides the company with good IP (intellectual property) and opens up new opportunities and export potential,” he says.

The illuminated handrail has LED (narrow spectrum light-emitting diode) lighting concealed in the bracket of the stair railing. It is a 12 volt system, making it economical and environmentally friendly. The bulbs do not warm up like normal stair lights, reducing chances of heat injury. Combining the light into the railing removes the need for low level stairwell lights, which heat up when left on and become a risk to youngsters. The system doubles as emergency lighting as it can be wired to activate a battery supply during power failure.

The Light Metals Research Centre at the University of Auckland worked with Miles Nelson to develop a suitable casting and coating and electroplating finish suitable to cope with outdoor conditions. Miles Nelson has recently employed an engineer designer in a newly created position to help build on the company’s product development focus.

The company, which has 30 staff, says it probably couldn’t have afforded the technology shift without the Foundation investment.

“It wasn’t just financial. The investment also helped improve the staff’s skill base and knowledge, which is needed if we’re to continue developing new products with export potential.

“It’s important the Government recognises the contribution from a company this size. It might not seem huge but is important to the economy of New Zealand because it provides workers with skills, creates new jobs and safeguards the jobs of existing workers,” says Mr Lee.

About the Foundation

The Foundation for Research, Science and Technology invests over $460 million a year on behalf of the New Zealand Government, in research, science and technology. These investments are made to enhance the wealth and well being of New Zealanders. Through its Technology New Zealand suite of schemes, the Foundation assists companies to undertake research and development projects that result in new, export-focussed products, processes or services. Investment from the Foundation is directed at supporting technical risk and the building of technical skills and expertise in companies.

The Technology for Business Growth scheme (TBG) can provide substantial investment (from $50,000 to over $2,000,000) for leading edge, applied research and experimental development that stretches businesses beyond their existing technical capability.

To find out more visit


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Commerce Commission: Appeals Record $2.25m Fine In Vodafone FibreX Case

The Commerce Commission has filed an appeal in the High Court against a record $2.25 million fine imposed on Vodafone NZ Limited (Vodafone) for its offending under the Fair Trading Act during its FibreX advertising campaign. While the sentence imposed in the Auckland District Court on April 14 was the largest-ever fine under the Fair Trading Act, the Commission will argue that it is manifestly inadequate... More>>

All District Health Boards: Historic Pay Equity Settlement

An historic agreement has been ratified that addresses a long-standing undervaluation of a workforce that is critical to the smooth running of our hospitals and the delivery of healthcare... More>>

MPI: Dry Autumn In Waikato And South Auckland Leads To Drought Classification Drought conditions affecting the primary sector in the Waikato and South Auckland were today classified as a medium-scale adverse event, enabling a package of support for farmers and growers... More>>

Barfoot & Thompson: Rents Up By Around 3% In Most Areas

The average weekly rent paid for homes in most areas of Auckland has risen by around 3 percent year-on-year. The figures for end March from more than 16,000 properties... More>>

DoC: Smeagol The ‘Gravel Maggot’ Leaves Its Rare Mark On The Remote West Coast
An extremely rare species of sea slug or ‘gravel maggot’ has been detected for the first time on a remote beach in South Westland... More>>

Immigration: Annual Net Migration Loss Of 7,300

The provisional net loss of 7,300 people in the year ended March 2022 was the lowest net migration for a March year since 2012, Stats NZ said today... More>>