February 21, 2020 2:08 pm
There are big smiles on the factory floor at NZ Autotraps in Whakatane.
A grant from the Provincial Growth Fund has enabled the fledgling company to move from a cramped storage unit in Hamilton to new premises in the Bay of Plenty town.
A new CNC machine centre, lathe, guillotine, rollers and band saw have been set up on the assembly line for the AT220, a self-resetting possum and rat trap that has the predator control community excited.
NZ Autotrap’s Kevin Bain with a second-hand CNC machine centre recently purchased from Fisher and Paykel.
When I visited the factory earlier this month Department of Conservation staff were visiting keen to trial the cost-saving device in their projects.
Partners Kevin Bain and George Campbell say they are busy keeping up with demand, as word about the trap spreads.
Last month 120 units rolled off the new production line.
Four new staff have been employed, three from the township and one has moved from Hamilton and become an investor in the company.
New factory workers Alex Hyde, Wai Roberts, Dana Ngatai and Haydn Steel on the AT 220 production line.
The trap’s proprietary innovation is a mechanical cog that sets and releases a spring-loaded plate on a single rotation. Its ability to kill possums and rats quickly and humanely has been as verified through independent NAWAC testing.
The PGF grant, administered through Predator Free 2050 Limited, has enabled a design review which prompted changes to the trap’s pump assembly, housings and mounts.
George says this will create efficiencies, cost savings and assist in sales, with a slick new marketing look emerging on CAD drawings for the AT220.
Production will soon shift from 3D printing to injection moulding.
A review of the trap’s circuit boards and operational software is also underway.
The recent eruption on Whakaari/ White Island has saddened the community and set back the hospitality sector.
“We are close to the town centre in a light industrial area so are getting a few walk-ins, people curious about what we are up to,” George says.
“If we create jobs and protect wildlife (Whakatane is renown for its kiwi population and has ambitious plans to step up its predator defence) then we can help put smiles back on peoples’ faces.”