A New Zealand company with revolutionising tank inspection technology is expanding into Europe and Australia armed with a climbing robot.

After successfully establishing the commercial proposition of the robot in NZ with the support of local dairy companies, Invert Robotics – founded in 2010 by James Robertson in partnership with Powerhouse Ventures – is now expanding offshore.

The robot is designed specifically for non-magnetic surfaces such as stainless steel and provides a step change in accessibility and quality of inspection using a high-definition camera to provide detailed images of any defects found.

It can inspect a wide range of dairy equipment including dryer chambers, air ducts, silos, tanks, fluid beds, cheddar towers, cheddar block formers and cheese vats.

“The technology is replacing people using abseils on ropes which has health and safety implications, particularly in confined spaces,” acting general manager Mike Lee said. “Companies also typically use scaffolding to have a good look.

“Defects are pretty common, depending on the age of the asset. There’s a range of defects to identify, such as spray walls that have gaskets in them. The robots can also see how well cleaning systems are working.

“And even though people tend to say you won’t find anything on new plants, there is now interest in checking a newly commissioned plant in the first year to ensure there are no defects. The new technology also means you can start to have a more proactive maintenance system.

“It means you can manage maintenance checks proactively instead of in the midst of a season when issues develop that puts businesses under more pressure,” he said.

With expansion in the aerospace industry with aircraft inspections and the petrochemical industry, Invert Robotics is well on its way to becoming a leading inspection company.

The company recently completed a successful capital-raising process to enable the business to scale up its international reach.

Invert Robotics has launched its inspection services into Europe with an office recently opened in the Netherlands. Invert Robotics is also accelerating its growth in the Australian market by partnering with Furphys Engineering, one of Australia’s leading stainless steel fabricators.

On Thursday last week, Invert Robotics was named one of the 10 most-promising early stage companies at the Annual TIN100 Awards in Auckland.

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