Resources and mining company, Fibre Tech Solutions, has paved a new way into the Defence supply chain.
Fibre Tech Solutions, formerly Fibre Rigging, was established in 2005 to provide local industry with safer rigging solutions. The company used its specialist, light weight fibre synthetics in various industry sectors including mining, logging, and oil and gas.
"My background was in Europe in [the] yacht racing circuit," company director Tristan Cross told Defence Connect.
"My owners that I worked for were looking for lightweight textiles from carbon fibre to lighter styling solutions."
Cross then brought that technology home to Australia, and into the mining industry. However, with the gradual decline of the resources industry, Cross made the decision to diversify.
After scouring the 2016 Defence White Paper, Cross saw an opportunity for Fibre Tech Solutions. Without any experience in Defence, Cross and engineering partner Chris Riggs set about making contacts with key Defence personnel through non-traditional channels.
"It was all about finding the sustainment managers and OH&S managers," Cross said.
“It all started with an email through LinkedIn,” said Cross. “The initial contact was with a man called Don Moloney.
“Emails went back and forth and then we were able to do a demonstration for them [Navy].
“It’s a group ‘toolbox’,” Riggs told Defence Connect. “These guys were anywhere from contractors at Thales, to BAE Systems and Navy Captain Greg Laxton. They’re from all walks of Defence within the base.
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“It was a very humbling experience.”
Cross and Riggs were able to attach a submersible camera on to an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with some of their lightweight cabling.
“The cabling we use is essentially, size for size, stronger than steel and an eighth of the weight,” said Riggs.
“It’s very interesting for Defence at the moment,” Cross added. “They’re happy to see innovation. We flew a camera underneath the drone and did an underwater inspection on a structure in the water.”
Cross was impressed with the reaction from the staff attending the demonstration.
“We wanted to do something a little bit different because the audience gave up their time over lunch to see us demonstrate,” he noted.
Cross and Riggs were inundated with questions from the audience.
“'Can we do this with it? Can we do that with it?' It was so exciting for us,” Riggs said.
“We ended up going over time,” added Cross. “We missed our flights.”
The demonstration paid off for Cross and Riggs. Fleet Base East Innovation Hub have put their ideas forward and the two have since been contacted by CASG about supplying Defence.