No hands, no brainer: How this Adelaide business took its foot-operated door handles from idea to market in less than three weeks

Valley-Precise-Global-CEO-Grant-Tinney

Valley Precise Global CEO Grant Tinney.

Valley Precise Global, a manufacturer based in Adelaide, has developed foot-operated door openers in a rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chief executive Grant Tinney said the South Australian designed and manufactured no-hands stainless steel door opener was on the market in less than three weeks after an initial brainstorming session searching for gaps in the COVID-19 response.

The no-hands product was designed based on research showing door handles are regularly exposed to bacteria and viruses through surface contamination, the new design means people can pull open doors using their feet rather than their hands.

Sales are already seeing several hundred being produced a week, with Tinney saying a new website and a push to interstate and overseas distributors is expected to see these numbers swell.

The company has ramped up production of its new medical supply range and unveiled a new website, after being established as a spin-off from its parent company Precise Advanced Manufacturing Group.

Tinney said the parent company has tripled in size in the past three years after its unique pipe clamps designed to rapidly stop leaks were snapped up by the United States navy.

Tinney said staff numbers also had grown another 10% over the past few weeks as the business continues to introduce innovative products and slash the time it takes to get them to market.

“Earlier this year we had a look at what contributed to speed to market,” Tinney says.

“I really aim to move all the chess pieces in place to allow us to have a company that can dramatically decrease the time to market, there are a lot of products that have limited shelf life.

“We’ve made a company that can do everything in parallel.”

The Precise Advanced Manufacturing Group has 85 staff employed over three sites in Adelaide and group sales of about $24.5 million.

Its rapid response clamp has driven growth after being designed with the Australian Defence Science and Technology Group so that a single person could quickly stop leakage from damaged pipework under pressure.

It was tested over two years at the United States navy damage control school in Virginia and is now used on every ship in the United States navy.

Tinney said the company had since demonstrated effective applications in other industries and the product had been picked up by the maritime, mining and energy sectors.

A recently announced Defence Global Competitiveness Grant from the Australian government was being used by the company to “source capital equipment that will increase our capability of manufacturing this product by at least four times”, Tinney says.

“We’re ramping up marketing in terms of a new website for the product and making an e-commerce site, bringing on additional distributors across the world and also ramping up efforts with our contact in the United States Department of Defence,” he says.

The company also launched its medical supply range over the past few weeks with an anti-fog PET protective face shield.

Orders were already arriving for the shields with Tinney saying the company was confidently tendering for larger orders both in Australia and the United States.

As the business continues to grow, Tinney says the new Valley Precise Global arm is also looking for a new HQ of its own.

Precise Advanced Manufacturing Group has staff based mainly in Adelaide but also in Melbourne, Sydney, the United States and New Zealand.

Tinney says the company was started by his father to make car components supporting local industry but later switched focus to the mining, medical and defence sectors.

He says manufacturing in South Australia is increasing its competitiveness globally, with the Australian dollar lower along with production costs, as companies overhaul their processes with the latest hi-tech approaches.

“We are looking at areas where we have particular strengths in new and novel design, where there’s a lot of intellectual properties and smarts in terms of design areas, this is where we are particularly strong in Australia,” Tinney says.

This article was first published by The Lead.

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