hamilton startup, EC8developed a technology to automate the measurement and cutting of gypsum board, and was the first in the construction industry to develop it. The company is now making its technology available to builders so they can reduce construction time, cut gypsum board with precision, and reduce waste.
“This is a world first. No one has used automation for large volumes of gypsum board for construction,” says Stahl.
In 2018, Stahl and his family returned to New Zealand to renovate their home. He found gypsum board to be “painful” and wondered how it could be done faster and easier.
“The building industry suffers from a lack of automation, so we had the idea, ‘Where can we apply cheap automation to the building industry?’ So we connected the dots.”
An engineer and accountant, Stahl spent the better part of the next two years creating a tool that digitally measured walls and controlled them with a phone app. The measurement process only takes him 1 minute. Once the walls are measured, an order for pre-cut plasterboard is submitted and once cut is sent to the builder.
Certainly, it is a large cutting tool with a total length of about 14m. But the time saved to build the house far exceeds the value of the machine. Once the gypsum board is measured, cut and shipped, the savings of automation come without huge capital costs.
“We want to reduce the time it takes to measure and cut a sheet from six minutes to two minutes, and we are close to that. This will save us a day or two per build,” says Staal. “It’s pretty important.”
The industry doesn’t need a large, multi-billion dollar factory to add automation, Stahl said. “Let’s make it easier and cheaper for builders to take digital measurements of walls and figure out a way to provide automation to day-to-day builders to make a little margin. It’s a daily builder inside.
EC8’s target market is gypsum board distributors. “What we want to do is give our distributors a whole business in a box. Distributors go to individual builders and say, ‘Do you want to use this product? It’s our route to the market.”
Ultimately, EC8 may introduce its products into other products such as flooring and roofing. This further reduces build times and reduces building waste. So it’s 100% recyclable. ”
EC8 is currently working with a local Hamilton building firm to test the technology. His largely self-funded EC8 received its first grant from Callaghan Innovation and plans to start selling and marketing the technology within the next three months, with the help of his mentors at Callaghan’s business.
“I’m very grateful to Callahan for getting this off the ground, otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to fund this,” Stahl says.
Staal also got a raise six months ago and “that’s what keeps us alive.” He plans to go out with another fundraiser later this year to bring the product to market faster.
According to Staal, running a startup is 10 times more difficult than an office worker, with challenges such as time management, staffing (EC8 has four staff members), and funding.
“You still have that suspicion. Will we be able to get the next round of investment? Trying to keep the lights on distracts you from getting the tech off the ground.” I have a lot of concerns like that.”
It took two years for one piece of hardware to reach the required accuracy and was ready for commercial testing. So Stahl offers advice to other startups facing tough times.
“Take a breather and move away from it. Often the solution comes to you when you stop concentrating. So please multiply by 10.”
After entering the local market, EC8 hopes to be profitable in 18 months and plans to expand into the US and Australia.
“This is not a product that can be developed just for the NZ market,” says Staal. “He only has two gypsum board suppliers in New Zealand. We work with both of them. They are really supportive.”
Story by Dave Crampton.
https://nzentrepreneur.co.nz/ec8s-technology-automating-the-measuring-and-cutting-of-plasterboard-is-a-world-first/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ec8s-technology-automating-the-measuring-and-cutting-of-plasterboard-is-a-world-first World’s first EC8 technology for automated gypsum board measuring and cutting – NZ Entrepreneur Magazine