We round out our Q&A sessions with our Innovation Challenge finalists by talking to Conweigh. With a revolutionary container weighing system poised to capture part of the container shipping market, Conweigh is poised for significant growth in a highly competitive global industry.
What is Conweigh?
Conweigh is an Australian company offering a shipping container weighing service through the use of a portable and instant NMI Trade approved Class 3 weighbridge, accessed and delivered to consumers on demand, via app, phone and web.
Who are the people behind it?
The Conweigh management team consists of a number of highly experienced industry professionals with backgrounds in shipping, freight and logistics, specialised engineering and manufacturing, business development and sales as well as finance and human resource management.
The team is led by Founder and CEO James Oliver who has over 15 years’ experience in specialised mobile equipment design and manufacture and has built a manufacturing company with foundations in systems and technology. Supporting James are his parents Deb and Steve Oliver who are Directors of Finance / HR and Manufacturing / Production respectively, National Sales Manager, Johann Psaila, National Technical Sales Bjorn Viljoen and International Business Development manager Simon Pritchard.
What is your connection with QUT?
Conweigh CEO James Oliver completed a Bachelor of Engineering at QUT between 2001 and 2004. His studies included Advanced Manufacturing, Finite Element Analysis, Process Systems Designs and Advanced Mechanical Design. He graduated from QUT with first class honours and was listed on the Dean’s List for Academic Achievement for six of eight semesters of study.
How long have you been operating as a business?
Conweigh was registered as a business in Queensland on 4 November 2015. The Company was officially launched in February 2016, with formal trade commencing in late June 2016.
How did you come up with the idea for Conweigh?
When the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) announced that changes to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention would include a mandatory weight verification of all export freight containers, James Oliver recognised the potential for a new business venture. Having extensive experience in the freight and logistics sector, James had developed an acute awareness of the logistics supply chain and the inevitable delays which would result from this new requirement. James was also aware of the lack of available public weighing infrastructure, particularly in developing countries to cater to the growing export market. For most shippers, such public infrastructure would be their only option, being unable to afford to install permanent weighing equipment on site.
James’s solution was to design a portable weighbridge which could be brought to each shipper’s point of packing and weigh a container. In order to ensure that shippers experienced minimal delays, James focused on extending this solution to be an on-demand style service, with an integrated service and delivery platform to provide a Verified Gross Mass (VGM) Certificate instantly. This idea would revolutionise the container weighing industry.
Do you have any experiences in startups or business?
James grew up in the cane fields of Mackay, and began his first entrepreneurial venture at the age of 15. Now, some twenty years on, he is still finding new and exciting ways in which to challenge himself and disrupt the marketplace. After completing his degree at QUT, James resurrected his parents’ engineering company; Olitek began as a small manufacturing company and grew to incorporate a design unit servicing some of the biggest industries including mining and logistics.
What has been your biggest challenge with Conweigh do date?
One of the biggest challenges has been ensuring that the Conweigh equipment satisfies the requirements of the IMO SOLAS legislation. During the initial design phases, there was widespread misunderstanding of what standards weighing equipment should be required to meet. With exact specifications or requirements unknown, Conweigh’s equipment was designed to meet the metrological standards set for trade use by the National Measurement Institute (NMI), and also meets the standards set by the International Organisation of Legal Metrology (OIML). The design of the weighing equipment to meet such standards required extensive product testing and redevelopment and remains the only portable certified solution globally to date.
What has been your greatest success with Conweigh to date?
With the IMO standards now published, Conweigh is the only mobile container weighing company operating certified equipment which meets the standards as required by the legislation, being approved by both the NMI and OIML. This has been one of the company’s greatest successes, providing a point of difference and a key competitive advantage.
Where do you find inspiration and what entrepreneurs are you influenced by?
Given that Conweigh has a tech component, James has been interested and inspired by the number of Brisbane based start-ups which are built on on-demand business and service models. This structure has revolutionised access and convenience both for the customer and the service provider.
What would it mean to you and your startup to win the Innovation Challenge?
Winning the Innovation Challenge will give Conweigh an instrumental boost to access the international market. While there are a number of international customers who have expressed an interest in receiving the Conweigh service, the Innovation Challenge will provide Conweigh with an opportunity to establish the service in least developed countries with recognised infrastructure limitations. Conweigh will be able to assist these nations with complying with the IMO SOLAS legislation, allowing them to compete in the international marketplace.
For more information on Conweigh, you can visit them at https://www.conweigh.net/.