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Product innovation and development

Innovative systems | Equipment control software | Intellectual property

Detection and screening sections in Durban Airport.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001, aviation security all over the world was stepped up. Both the U.S. Transportation Security Administration and NZ Aviation authorities mandated Hold Baggage Screening (HBS), meaning all checked luggage must always be screened. Glidepath took this opportunity to introduce new products into the market, including Explosive Detection Systems (EDS) and Hold Baggage Screening (HBS).

In 2002, Glidepath was recognised by the Design Institute of New Zealand, winning the award for Design-Led Business of the Year. The Institute stated at the time that Glidepath is only one of a handful of companies worldwide that meets the U.S. Government’s stringent security regulations.

Read Glidepath's extensive list of awards and recognitions.

Innovative systems

Other Glidepath products include cargo handling systems, parcel sorting systems and Powerwalk. Powerwalks are the moving walkways installed in most underwater aquariums around the world. They are similar to travelators but are much more innovative in that they can manoeuvre around corners. Kristy Housley states that Glidepath is one of the only companies in the world to manufacture and install this type of system. There are over 30 Glidepath PowerWalks installed around the world in far off places such as St Petersberg, Russia and Urumqi, China. The first was in 1984 at Kelly Tarltons Underwater World in Orakei, Auckland.

Detection and screening sections in Durban Airport.

In 2004, following a successful project at Boise Airport, Idaho, Stevens set about establishing a fully integrated manufacturing plant in Dallas, Texas. This was to demonstrate to the U.S. that Glidepath had commitment and was there to stay. By 2005, the plant was up and running and the company now has ISO: 9001:2000 Accreditation.

Around this time there was also a reduction in the New Zealand export market from 95% to 65% due to domestic demand increasing. Because of new security measures, New Zealand International Airports had to implement inline hold baggage screening. When asked if this created any issues for Glidepath, Housley said no. There was plenty of domestic work at the time and New Zealand will always be a Glidepath priority for obvious reasons.

Equipment control software

Glidepath has produced state-of-the-art software that provides equipment control. The software, branded as GlideControl, GlideView, GlideSort and GlideScan, enables tracking, allocation, sortation and reconciliation of baggage handling, cargo screening and parcel sorting respectively. In fact it is the ‘glue’ in the system that provides and reports on security.

For example, the tracking software, GlideControl integrated with GlideView, means that Glidepath can tell you where a passenger’s luggage is at any point in the system. This can all be tracked from a computer in Glen Eden, Auckland, New Zealand.

Glidepath - monitoring and equipment control software.

The software increases efficiency by reducing failure rates and allowing faster bag processing, making it easier to plan ahead and respond to industry changes and challenges. It provides low cost of ownership, reliability and has the capability for future expansion.

This innovation and development all supports Glidepath’s alignment to its mission statement. Stevens ensures this, and is renowned for personally getting involved to resolve design issues using his vast knowledge and experience.

Intellectual property protection

It’s vital for a company such as Glidepath to protect its designs. When asked about copyright issues and protection of intellectual property to stop systems and software being replicated, Stevens is very clear.

By keeping one step ahead of the competition in terms of innovation, the company is able to copyright and trademark its ideas without applying for patents. According to Stevens the company had a few machines patented which are no longer in use. He says that the pace at which technology changes could result in Glidepath being locked into designs and therefore might not move ahead so quickly. However, he has not ruled out the idea of patenting. It would depend on how revolutionary the design was.

Applying for and being granted a patent is a very costly time consuming exercise and patents can often be overturned. Having to defend these decisions can also be very expensive. To safeguard Glidepath’s ideas, Stevens has a policy that only certain components are sent to different outsourcers, which prevents entire systems from being copied.

Read more about Glidepath's journey:

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