Rotacaster has patented a range of innovative multi-directional wheels, and supporting equipment, for hand trucks, conveyors and robots.

Background

The Rotacaster wheel is a unique omni-directional and multi-purpose wheel with unrivalled manoeuvrability. It is the only patented multi-directional wheel technology developed primarily as an industrial and commercial floor wheel. Its unique system uses a fixed orientated main wheel, which allows forward and reverse movement without fighting a swivel caster offset. The peripheral rollers facilitate turning, rotational, lateral and diagonal movement.  Manufactured entirely from engineering resins/polymers, the Rotacaster ominwheel is light, durable, impact and corrosive resistant with no pins, inserts or seams. It has a high load bearing capacity, stable mounting capabilities and delivers a smooth ride quality making it ideal for tough environments and industrial applications. Find more detail on Rotacaster’s website at www.rotacaster.com.au.

Business model development

Rotacaster’s business model integrates design and local manufacturing of wheels which it sells domestically and exports, and wheel applications.  Rotacaster has split its application markets into 3 categories: (1) materials handling equipment (custom hand trucks, dollies and trolleys;  (2) conveyor and load transfers, enabling omnidirectional movement, (3) assisted mobility, and (4) robotic applications.

In recent years, Rotacaster’s revenue growth has been underpinned by investment in R&D to develop the inherent capabilities of the omniwheel itself and investment to understand the needs of its customers in each if its application markets.  It has also retooled to improve product manufacturing and reduce cost.  In 2017 Rotacaster embarked on a collaborative project with Rapido, University of Technology Sydney UTS and Design + Industry, a premier Australian industrial design firm, to develop a conveyor transfer table using Rotacaster’s omniwheels.  This Project was backed by a grant from the Australian Manufacturing Growth Centre .  The transfer table was successfully completed in mid-2019 in time for a major international trade show where it attracted significant interest.

This project sparked a range of follow-on activity with Rapido, UTS to explore the capability of its transfer tables to orient and redirect parcels of different base dimensions, base materials, base rigidity, parcel weight and conveyor speed.  Rotacaster is selectively using these collaborations and those with Design + Industry to supplement a specialist internal engineering and mechatronics R&D team.  As Rotacaster has developed keener customer insights, customers have been engaged in the design process linking customer insight directly to its core operational and design teams. This has allowed it to develop a more efficient and effective R&D ecosystem that has flexible access to the right specialist skills.  It has prompted Rotacaster to prioritise, organise, budget and time constrain its R&D program more tightly with a keener focus on market success.  A key value point is to develop powered drives for each of Rotacasters wheel range and application sets.

The same collaborative mindset is enabling Rotacaster to explore other technology and customer collaborations to accelerate speed to market, application development, and access to customer OEM supply chains.  Rotacaster now has the capability, and confidence to explore more market opportunities that make commercial sense.

Triple Innovation value add

Triple Innovation has worked with Rotacaster to secure on-going access to the R&D tax incentive and commercialisation grants ($280,000+).  While cash is always important to fund ongoing investment in R&D, commercial advice to collaborate, select collaborative partners, and evaluate the commercial and financial success of these investment binds these assignments together.  Assisting Rotacaster to develop an efficient and effective R&D ecosystem adds enterprise value.  It also creates a solid platform for future growth in its chosen markets – those markets where omni-directional movement and ride quality make a difference.

 

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