By Mitch Crowe-Hardy at WA Business Review
THE growing use of iPads by airlines for passengers has created a growth market for LocknCharge, which has just won its largest contract with Qantas.
The local company has discovered a lucrative niche, developing products to helps schools, universities , businesses and now airlines deal with the growing use of laptops and tablet computers.
Photo by Annaliese Frank
Earlier this month LocknCharge (known as PC Locs to Australians) won a contract with Qantas that will provide the airline with in-flight galley carts, the same size as a food cart, which synchronise and recharge iPads between flights.
Qantas’ new in-flight entertainment systems on its ageing Boeing 767 domestic aircraft will use iPads distributed to passengers to deliver up to 200 hours of on demand entertainment.
LocknCharge will supply the airline with enough on-board carts to charge, store and synchronise up to 5,000 iPads.
Each cart can store 64 iPads and four carts will be allocated to each aircraft.
Roll-out of the new technology began in October and completion is anticipated for March next year.
LocknCharge and PC Locs director David Shawcross said nearly a third of the carts had been delivered to Qantas. The remaining units were due to be delivered next month.
“Since LocknCharge won the Qantas contract it has received significant interest from Middle Eastern and European airlines,” Mr Shawcross said.
To further promote the in-flight carts, LocknCharge is preparing a paper in conjunction with Telstra and Qantas for the international Apple products conference, Macworld, in San Francisco next year.
PC Locs has been operating in the US since 2010, when the company decided to expand into the sizeable market trading as LocknCharge Technologies.
Despite turbulent economic conditions, demand for its products was strong.
Mr Shawcross said the business had experienced average growth of 26 per cent over the past three years and 23 per cent over the past six years.
The company has 2,000 distributors in America and six months ago Apple started listing its products on its US online store. Subsequently, managing director James Symons has moved to the US to continue the business’ international expansion.
The success of LocknCharge Technologies products in America and the distribution networks that came from it provided the inspiration for a new business called Global Avenue.
Started in 2011, Mr Symons heads the company with two other stakeholders. It specialises in preparing new products for international markets in marketing, sales and global strategy and preparation.
In June last year, nearly all of PC Locs’ business came from the education sector. Since then, commercial interest has risen and Mr Shawcross said the company was looking to explore opportunities in the hospitality and defence force industries.
Its international operations come under umbrella corporation IWS Global and it employs 25 people in Australia, five in China and six in America.
PC Locs was started by former school teacher Paul Symons in 1998, building lockdown systems to prevent theft of computers and IT equipment.
An approach from Apple in 2001 saw the company design laptop trolleys for the computer manufacturer’s first MacBooks, which were sold to Australian schools.