Merging with another local business helped a drone expert successfully secure a £60k order to build a bespoke unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for the Forestry Commission Scotland.
Air Cam Pro (ACP) joined forces with Molten 99, an aerial video and photography provider, earlier this year, bringing together the technical expertise of Anthony Kirk and the flying and sales knowledge of Andy Gupwell.
Having moved into larger manufacturing facilities in Walkerburn last month (April), ACP, which has been helped by Business Gateway Scottish Borders, has just delivered the drone which will be used to monitor stress levels in trees to help identify disease before it spreads.
Andy said: “Bringing the two companies together under the Air Cam Pro brand has quickly resulted in a high profile order that highlights both our sales and technical abilities. We believe the successful completion of the order will open doors for us within the forestry, offshore oil and gas, wind farm, and security sectors.
“Currently people tend to buy a drone off the shelf, add equipment to it, and hope the technology will do the job for them. What we do is find out our client’s needs and work backwards, building our own UAVs from scratch. We install the best hardware, program the software, and using CNC machining, carbon fibre moulding, 3D printing, and electronic design to construct a piece of unique kit that will do exactly what the client wants and more.
“With the order now under our belt, we are looking to use the connections our Business Gateway adviser, Annie Watt, has given to us to spread the word about what we do. Annie’s advice has been invaluable to ACP over the years, including helping the company secure a Scottish Borders Business Fund grant to buy camera equipment and motors. Since the start of the year, her expertise has helped us refine our business strategy and provided us with new contacts.”
Annie Watt, Business Gateway, said: “Air Cam Pro was initially launched in 2013 with a focus on research and development. Although the business was at the forefront of drone development in Scotland there was minimal trading until Anthony met Andy through a mutual friend. By joining together they’ve merged their skills to create a business that has the potential to grow quickly. With our help they have now put in place a strategy to drive the business forward and are using our connections to identify events, conferences and businesses that could provide them with a platform to shout about what they do.”
Alongside the company’s manufacturing arm, which is headed up by Anthony, a marine and mechanical engineer who previously designed and made underwater vehicles for the military, ACP also provides drones for hire that are piloted by its four strong team, which includes Andy, a former Royal Air Force helicopter crew instructor of 11 years.
Currently the company is using its drones to collect video that will help it produce an interactive map of one of Scotland’s historic mansion houses and estate. The map will be used to showcase the location to film and television production companies.
Andy said: “Drone usage is becoming more and more popular with businesses in all sectors investigating ways in which they can integrate them to improve their services; from parcel delivery to dropping defibrillators into emergency situations. With more businesses using drones the need for proper training increases and that’s why we are establishing a training arm that will help drone operators understand how best to use the equipment for the greatest benefit.”