Tharsus Group has signed a heads of terms with Weeding Technologies Ltd on a collaboration agreement to develop and manufacture a new weed control system for the amenity market – in particular water companies, councils and contractors.
Original Equipment Design and Manufacture (OEDM) specialist Tharsus will work closely with Weeding Technologies, the UK's non-toxic weed control specialists, to develop the system, which will support the work of those managing public spaces such as parks, play areas, sports fields, roadways and watercourses.
Once the development work is underway, the companies intend to sign a long-term, exclusive manufacturing agreement. This will see the new product being manufactured at Tharsus' Blyth-based facility and where necessary supplying manufacturing management services for local manufacture in international markets.
Tharsus will create a system that can be attached to smaller utility vehicles, which are ideally suited to grass areas within the amenities market. Its key challenge is to create a product that will stand up to the harsh conditions of the service environment as this will become a critical piece of equipment for water companies, councils and contractors.
In addition, Tharsus will be working to a challenging timescale with full manufacture required by the 2014 weeding season, which begins in February next year. Initial focus will be on building a series of pre-prototype "˜mules' to validate the core system design before developing a full prototype.
Tharsus will develop the new product around Weeding Technologies' award-winning Foamstream technology, taking on responsibility for everything from system integration and design for manufacture through to supply chain and cost management.
This will allow Weeding Technologies to focus on creating Intellectual Property which is central to their long-term success and has led to significant private equity investment.
They have already achieved a number of patents and Foamstream uses a novel and innovative method to harness the power of thermal technology to control weeds. It has been developed in response to the Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations, which came into force in the UK in July 2012 aiming to regulate and reduce the use of traditional chemical herbicides. It has also been developed to meet the challenges posed by The Water Framework Directive.
This technology, coupled with Tharsus' engineered application solution, will provide a real benefit to water companies, councils and contractors. Foamstream is effective in all weathers, is safe to use around children, pets and sensitive environments and is bio-degradable and residue-free. It is also approved for use on organic production systems by The Soil Association and The Organic Farmers & Growers Association.
Backed by independent research by the University of Cambridge, Foamstream requires no pressurised storage and can be applied without any specialist training or safety clothing.
Having developed the process principles and chemical technology, Weeding Technologies has engaged Tharsus for its product development, design for manufacture and knowledge-based manufacturing capability to create an effective solution to apply Foamstream to amenity spaces.
By outsourcing a complete design, engineering and manufacturing strategy through Tharsus, Weeding Technologies can focus on developing the market and exploring opportunities across potential export markets. This is essential as weed control is a seasonal requirement and therefore Weeding Technologies will need to look to a diverse geographic customer base.
Brian Palmer, Chief Executive of Tharsus Group, said: "This is the perfect example of a relationship between a business that has a strong IP focus and an OEDM specialist. As we focus on the new product introduction, Weeding Technologies are in a position to focus on further technology development and, at the same time gear up its UK and international marketing efforts.
"This is an exciting project, which will fully engage the skills and ingenuity of our designers and engineers. We have invested heavily in our development and manufacturing facility in North East England, which will enable us to meet the challenges of this project and lead to strong and successful relationship with Weeding Technologies."
Mike Lamb, Chief Executive of Weeding Technologies Ltd, said: "We are delighted to have signed this heads of terms agreement with Tharsus, which will lead to the creation of a product that will more than complement our award-winning technology and provide an effective solution for water companies, councils and contractors that manage public spaces.
"The unique approach to product creation and manufacture Tharsus provides will not only add value to our technology, but enable our business to concentrate on market development and engage with potential export territories. We have great confidence in the opportunities for this product and working with Tharsus will ensure our vision is delivered."