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Customer focus sparks innovation

Posted: 7am 07 Jan 2021

The adaptability that saw North Lakes-based Metromatics win the Innovation Excellence category of the 2019 Moreton Bay Region Business Excellence and Innovation Awards has driven the business to new heights.

With the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic ruling out last year’s awards, we’re shining a light on superstars from previous years and asking … what are they up to now?

Metromatics technical sales and engineering manager Mitch Callon says keeping an open mind and responding to customer needs is a mindset that has held the company in good stead.

When it became apparent more than a decade ago that Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) - the technology used in traditional computer monitors and televisions - was becoming obsolete, Metromatics was ahead of the curve, embracing LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) technology to develop state-of-the art information screens.

Mitch says the screens, which can withstand the elements, are widely used across public transport networks nationally and have evolved over the years, with Metromatics supplying not only the screens but also the software, in response to customer demand.

Broadcast capability

One of the biggest advances, Mitch says, is the development of digital signs that also broadcast information or announcements, a breakthrough for people with vision or hearing impairments.

“Traditionally at train stations there is a hearing loop in the ground, and you have to stand within the loop (to be able to hear announcements),” Mitch says.

If people with cochlear implants step away from the loop, they lose the ability to hear the information.

But Metrospec display screens with built in hearing loop capability mean they can easily read information such as timetables on a screen, without missing important announcements.

“We took existing technology and condensed it into a smaller product so it can be installed in the screen,” Mitch says.

Great feedback

“We have had fantastic feedback from Cicada (Cochlear Implant Club and Advisory Association Queensland) and The Deaf Society.

“We’re looking at extending it to tourist information, public events and galleries.”

Metromatics general manager Grant Williams says the company prefers to manufacture in Australia, with greater control over the process and a boost to the local economy.

“We could bring it in from China for half the price - and half the quality.”

Grant says Metromatics is solutions driven, working with clients to identify their needs and develop systems to match.

“We work with the customer because often they don’t know what they want because they don’t know what technology is out there,” he says

“The biggest thing is education - you’re teaching them about technology and choice.”

Unexpected upside

While Metromatics took a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic - research and development ground to a halt, interstate freight experienced frustrating delays and international freight costs increased – Grant says there were some unexpected upsides.

“Our engineers have had time to consider better solutions and technical product options,” he says.

As for the future, Grant says the company will continue to do what it does best – delivering quality products for clients that exceed their expectations.

“You need to think outside the square and don’t be afraid to try – if you have an idea, back it.”

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