Multi-Million Pound Boost For Firm Tuned Into Radio Technology

A Cookstown-based businessman has revealed how an innovative piece of technology, implemented with assistance from Invest Northern Ireland, helped him to secure a multi-million pound contract in the first 12 months of operation.

Frank Kilpatrick of Kilpatrick Ltd was speaking at an Invest NI conference attended by over 200 business people and academics which aimed to help the local business community benefit from Radio Frequency Identification (RFID).

Kilpatrick Ltd was established in 2005 and specialises in the development of vending systems for use primarily on filling station forecourts, convenience stores and holiday parks. A key product is the ‘365’ - a secure, self-service 24 hour fuel vending system aimed at automating the sale of a wide range of theft-prone fuels such as coal, charcoal, peat and gas.

R&D support from Invest NI helped Kilpatrick Ltd develop the product to meet the requirements of a major European gas company using RFID technology. This resulted in Kilpatrick Ltd winning a multi-million pound contract to supply the 365 vending machines across Europe.

Speaking at the Invest NI RFID Conference, Frank Kilpatrick urged more local firms to take advantage of the technology: “RFID has completely changed how we manage even the most fundamental business processes. From our base in Cookstown, we can accurately track the movement of stock and frequency of use. This has really changed the dynamic of our business, freeing up time to explore new business opportunities and research new products.

“Without RFID, we would not have been placed in such a competitive position when marketing our products to potential European-wide customers.”

Invest NI support has also helped Kilpatrick Ltd to build a partnership with the Swiss-based Group IDtek to provide RFID functionality across the 365 product range.

Addressing the 200 delegates at the conference Leslie Morrison, Chief Executive, Invest NI, added: “RFID is not a new discovery. However new applications and rapid development over the last few years have resulted in technology which can make businesses more efficient, profitable and competitive.

“The integration of RFID into the Kilpatrick product range is allowing the company to successfully exploit major sales opportunities across Europe. More companies in Northern Ireland should embrace this technology and discover new ways to add value to their business.”

RFID dates back to the 1940’s where it was first used to track aircraft. It identifies tagged objects using radio frequencies. Today it has hundreds of uses across the retail, healthcare, food, automotive, aerospace and defence industries. Typical applications include blood-bank monitoring, baggage handling, shipment tracing and stock monitoring.