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Machine manufacturer makes strides:
NBR - Newmarket engineering and software firm takes flight

Engineering NZ - Kiwi software designer and machine manufacturer gets R&D grant

The future augers well for Helix Flight

Posted on September 10, 2015by Callaghan Innovation

How a Newmarket firm is quietly changing the foundations of heavy industry

Kiwi software designer and machine manufacturer Helix Flight says a R&D project grant from Callaghan Innovation will improve scale and processes to allow the company – already a success here and overseas – to take its products to the next step.

Helix Flight makes software and machinery for producing perfect helices – often called flighting – for some of the most physically demanding heavy industry, such as turbines, anchoring, augers, agitators, piles and conveyors.

A finalist in this year’s Heavy Engineering Research Association Innovator Awards the company also recorded 500 percent sales growth in the past year.

Helix Flight managing director Daniel Coats says the success to-date owes much to strategic alliances and a smart business model.

Daniel Coats, Helix Flight managing director

“Our alliances with top manufacturers around the world not only benefit our business, but also help raise the profile of New Zealand engineering around the world.

“That’s important, because if you want to clinch a deal with an international partner, the first impression is vital. If they think you’re from a country that’s innovative, and creating a lot of world-leading products, that’s going to go a long way to help.”

Helix Flight’s innovations are not limited to engineering. The business model allows the company to sell their machinery at a relatively low price, and monetise the use of the equipment, and the supporting software.

“This creates an incentive for us to creating a lasting relationship with our customers, so we ask for their feedback, we work hard to get the quality right, and keep the supporting systems cutting-edge.”

Coats is developing a prototype for a third-generation, intensive wear plate capable machine for material-dependent factories, and a larger high-capacity machine for custom equipment built for the largest machines in the world. Both were identified as new customer requirements from earlier research.

R & D grant support from Callaghan Innovation has helped Helix Flight in gaining scale and allowing simultaneous fully interactive processes rather than a piece-meal approach.

The R&D funding assistance has also allowed a continued ramp-up of commercialisation activities.

Coats says the funding was a significant milestone for the company, as it will be targeted to gaining a significant break-through in new markets by designing a wear plate capable machine that can form sectional helices straight from materials such as Hardox and Bisalloy.

“Evidence to date shows our new machines are durable, safer and enable improved quality and performance of end products.

“Our clients see the savings in improved performance of end products and this makes our machines very affordable. This funding will enable us to continue investing in R&D, while getting on with our current commercialisation and export growth”

Helix Flight is a very Kiwi company; quietly making a significant impact on the world of heavy engineering, delivering world-class innovation from an office in Newmarket.

Helical Piles: True Pitch Helixes and Steel Specification for Screw Piles and Anchors,

presented by Daniel Coats, N-Viro Mooring & Anchor Ltd.

11/6/2013 5.30pm

Auckland branch


True Pitch Helixes – Importance to Integrity of Screw Pile & Anchor Design.

There are few, if any, good practice notes or design guides with a specific focus on the importance of the quality of helices employed in the manufacture of screw piles. In this presentation we consider the significant effect that the quality of the helix bearing plate may have on manufacture, installation and ultimate design capacity and integrity of screw piles and anchors.  The objective is to give an understanding of the issues and guidance in specification of helices for screw piling and anchoring.

Steel Specification for Screw Piles & Anchors- Dodging the materials specification disaster

There are some very serious issues with New Zealand and Australian steel supply, the standards we use, and how we monitor quality.  We will discuss lessons learned over the last 15 years on steel materials supply in New Zealand, and how Australasian and Asian suppliers (mills) have become very clever at supplying apparently compliant “legitimately certificated product” though, not “fit for purpose”. We will discuss how specification of a standard may be entirely inadequate in protecting either the client or engineer. We will conclude with some suggestions to help in specification to avoid such issues specifically regarding screw pile and anchor design.

Daniel Coats Biography

Daniel has a bachelor degree & diploma in commerce, but has spent the last 20 years in ground works design, initially in retaining walls, before moving on to screw piles and anchors where he has been a specialist for the last 15 years. Currently he has interests in Helix Flight Manufacturing Machines and N-Viro Mooring & Anchor Limited. A founder director of Piletech in Australia, Daniel then set up Piletech NZ Limited. Piletech was eventually purchased by Fletchers, staying on; he helped with the Piletech’s team to expand the business.  Although now no longer employed by Piletech, it was under Piletech that moves were made to try to establish a higher body of professional engineering standards and best practices for screw piling internationally. Daniel was the Founding Chairman of the Institute of Helical Piling Engineers (IHPEng) in London UK. Having experience with almost all aspects of design supply and installation of screw piling, anchoring, and marine anchoring from working in the UK, North America, Japan, Australia, the Maldives and Pacific Island & New Zealand, he is happy to share some key lessons.  Such issues relate to helix quality, and steel materials quality which are damaging the industry in other countries (particularly Australia), his interest in giving an insight to avert poor practices here in New Zealand.

Venue: Room 1.401 Faculty of Engineering, University of Auckland

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