Elec­tri­cal – Test Equip­ment

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - FRONT PAGE -

Auck­land en­tre­pre­neur

An­drew Wigney has al­ways had an in­ven­tive mind, find­ing so­lu­tions where oth­ers don’t see.

Wigney, managing di­rec­tor of The Ca­ble Fer­ret Com­pany, has de­vel­oped the world’s first wire­less and recharge­able in­spec­tion cam­era which en­ables elec­tri­cians, plumbers, ca­blers and other trades­peo­ple to work ef­fi­ciently in the dark con­fined spaces of walls and ceil­ings.

The Ca­ble Fer­ret wig­cam, the small, light­weight cam­era linked to a bright LCD dis­play screen, can reach ev­ery nook and cranny and al­lows the con­trac­tors to quickly pull through ca­bles or find and re­pair the faulty wiring and wa­ter leak. The wig­cam can save time and costs.

“I see a prob­lem as a chal­lenge rather than an is­sue,” says Aus­tralian-born Wigney, who trained as an elec­tronic tech­ni­cian.

Wigney, who moved to Auck­land in 2011, start­ing think­ing about an in­spec­tion de­vice af­ter one of his staff – he was managing a data com­mu­ni­ca­tions ca­bling busi­ness – drilled a hole in the ceil­ing and burst the Dar­win ho­tel’s high wa­ter pres­sure main. The tech­ni­cian couldn’t see what he was drilling into.

“Af­ter Dar­win I got some small cam­eras and played around with them. I could see there was an op­por­tu­nity in the mar­ket­place and I wanted to see if my idea would work,” says Wigney.

“My first de­sign was too big and bulky and I then moulded my own plas­tic to get some­thing that worked. We min­i­malised the elec­tron­ics, in­stalled more pow­er­ful bat­ter­ies, and made the cam­era light­weight, strong, wa­ter­proof and dust proof.”

The com­pact in­spec­tion cam­era (wig­cam) is 83mm long, 33mm wide and weighs 33 grams. The 4.3-inch LCD screen pro­vides a high-res­o­lu­tion pic­ture, and the wig­cam has a wire­less range of up to 12 me­tres. The screen can be held in the other hand while the con­trac­tor works the cam­era into the dark hole.

The cam­era can be fixed to a flex­i­ble one me­tre long goose­neck to go around any cor­ner or in any di­rec­tion. A push pull rod, stretch­ing out eight me­tres, can be screwed into the top of the cam­era so it can reach greater heights.

There other ac­ces­sories in the kit­set: bat­tery charger and ca­bles, recharge­able bat­tery pack, cam­era thread adap­tors, SD mem­ory card for stor­ing pho­tos and videos, con­duit adap­tor, a dis­play mount for hands-free view­ing, a short rod, hook and mag­net to pull back a ca­ble or re­trieve a metal­lic ob­ject, and an in­struc­tion man­ual. Wigney has thought of ev­ery­thing.

“The wig­cam (wire­less, recharge­able in­spec­tion cam­era) is the most ver­sa­tile of its type; there’s noth­ing like it out there.”

The wig­cam, man­u­fac­tured in China, was launched com­mer­cially in early 2014 and dur­ing the first two years Ca­ble Fer­ret sold more than 2000 units, mainly in Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

The wig­cam is sold through the elec­tri­cal whole­sal­ing chain, J. A. Rus­sell, with its 68 branches through­out New Zealand. Ca­ble Fer­ret has also ap­pointed agents in United States, Dubai and Bri­tain to in­crease ex­port sales.

“We have an elec­tri­cal re­seller in Ver­mont test­ing the mar­ket in the US,” says Wigney. “We want feed­back on the price point and whether they need or like all the ac­ces­sories. There are tens of thou­sands of in­de­pen­dent home in­spec­tors in the US and that’s a huge mar­ket to tap. We will also be test­ing plumb­ing re­sellers and builder sup­pli­ers.”

Ca­ble Fer­ret’s prod­uct is ex­tremely ver­sa­tile and adapt­able, and even stretches to chim­ney sweep­ing. The com­pany’s con­tact in Bri­tain is a Welsh busi­ness that re­sells chim­ney sweep equip­ment in Europe and is look­ing to in­clude the wig­cam in its of­fer­ing.

“We are cau­tious about how we ex­pand be­cause we are self-funded. But we are aware that we need sales peo­ple on­board to take the busi­ness to the next level, and we are look­ing at op­tions to at­tract in­vestors,” says Wigney.

Ca­ble Fer­ret has had strong sup­port from Auck­land Tourism, Events and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment (ATEED). “ATEED pro­vided us with a NZTE voucher which meant a busi­ness strat­egy work­shop was af­ford­able,” says Wigney. “ATEED also put us in touch with var­i­ous busi­ness ex­perts and in­vited us to sem­i­nars which pro­vided valu­able ad­di­tional busi­ness knowl­edge and great net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

“My first de­sign was too big and bulky and I then moulded my own plas­tic to get some­thing that worked. We min­i­malised the elec­tron­ics, in­stalled more pow­er­ful bat­ter­ies, and made the cam­era light­weight, strong, wa­ter­proof and dust proof.”

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