Blueprint Lab develops in-house test facilities to open up export markets

11 December 2020

Blueprint Lab is a New South Wales based small business making advanced robotic arms for underwater vehicles in harsh environments.

Business Development Manager, Anders Ridley-Smith said that although he didn’t come into the meeting with the CDIC with a good understanding of what assistance is offered, he came away with next steps to increase their business capability.

‘The Defence Industry Facilitator talked me through all the different options that were available to us as a small company and he identified the Defence Global Competitiveness Grant as a potential first step,’ Mr. Ridley-Smith said.

Blueprint Lab pursued this and were successful in their application for the Defence Global Competitiveness Grant. This grant allowed the business to expand their on-site test equipment and achieve certification of their products to open up export markets in the US and the UK.

‘We bought a pressure chamber which we can use to test our robotic arms down to a depth of at least 500 meters. If we identify a problem we can redesign and easily re-test until we are really confident in the product,’ Mr Ridley-Smith said.

More recently, Blueprint Lab has additionally purchased a water test tank.

‘We attach our products to vehicles and submerge them into the water tank for testing and product verification. Doing testing on site means we can test more regularly, which means we can also find and resolve issues more regularly. It is a lot more efficient.’

Working with Defence

Blueprint Lab advanced robotic arms on underwater vehicles have potential use in a variety of sectors. This includes the oil and gas industry for infrastructure inspections and recovering objects for search and rescue. The technology also has potential for the Defence industry, for example in complex retrieval and novel mine countermeasures.

While Blueprint Lab has previously been involved in pilot trials of their technology with the United States Navy, Mr. Ridley-Smith said that they are also in conversations with various Australian Defence stakeholders about potential projects.

‘If you can provide the right kind of value and technology to assist in solving one of Defence’s problems, the potential relationships are generally pretty long-term. Our future aim is to be instrumental to a specific Defence capability and continue to support them in solving that problem on a long-term basis.’

Mr. Ridley-Smith said that his advice for other small businesses seeking to engage the defence industry is to treat the relationship building aspect in a genuine way and really invest in helping Defence stakeholders to understand what you do and the value it can add.