With the eLeg rapidly gaining a global fan base, Melbourne’s Fuwa K-Hitch could hold the key for unlocking the second wave of the Federal Government’s innovation and science agenda.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull once again helped the term ‘innovation’ receive buzzword status last month after a cabinet reshuffle saw former Innovation, Industry and Science Minister, Greg Hunt, move to the health portfolio, and Senator Arthur Sinodinos step into the innovation role.

Innovation had been the centrepiece of Turnbull’s 2015 campaign, which focused on Australia’s transition to a more balanced and diversified economy, but didn’t quite find traction over the course of 2016 – even though industry had gone into overdrive to make the promised ‘ideas boom’ a reality.

With a new Minister now driving the portfolio, the transport equipment industry is once again hoping for the focus to return to high-tech manufacturing and innovative problem solving – an area in which it has traditionally held a leadership role.

One company predestined to lead the way in bringing innovation back on the big stage is Melbourne’s Fuwa K-Hitch (FKH). As part of a world-spanning knowledge network created by Chinese manufacturing giant, Fuwa, it has garnered a reputation for being especially agile and connected – an important quality to maximise the innovation potential of Australian-based businesses, as Henri Burges, a Senior Lecturer in Strategy and Innovation at the Queensland University of Technology, explains.

“Research shows companies who are more internationalised are more innovative and perform better. Winning at innovation requires joining the global marketplace to find new users for your products, services and technologies and to gain knowledge helping you to further innovate.”

Chris Barrett, National Sales Manager at FKH, agrees: “Our long-standing involvement with Fuwa has helped us build an international support network that is unique in the transport equipment scene. Our latest innovation, the eLeg, would not have been possible without it.”

Designed in collaboration with automation specialist Razor International, the eLeg is an integrated electronic landing leg that can be lifted and lowered at the push of a button – effectively creating a whole new sub-segment in the landing leg market. Chris says the eLeg will positively affect driver recruiting, safety and maintenance, as well as aerodynamics and idling time – making it a quintessential equipment innovation for the 2017 season.

“The eLeg is a great example of how an idea conceived in Australia can make a global impact if the framework is right,” Chris explains. “It’s just as much of a safety device as a cost reduction tool, which makes it attractive for almost any market worldwide. Only by combining Australian know-how and the global manufacturing prowess of Fuwa and Razor behind us, we were able to scale the project and meet that demand.”

According to Chris, FKH’s slow and mindful internationalisation over the past decade has not only helped it open up to new markets and services, but also exposed it to new insights that stimulated more innovation. “The amount of data we have gained access to by rolling out the product worldwide continuously helps us improve,” he explains. “To us, that kind of feedback cycle is incredibly important to ensure we keep growing and evolving as a business.”

One key take-away from FKH’s success story, he adds, is that even small- and medium-sized businesses like FKH and Razor have the opportunity to reap the benefits of international expansion – even with limited resources – by creating smart networks and finding the right partners to collaborate with. As such, he sees FKH as a prime example for the second wave of the Federal Government’s innovation and science agenda Minister Sinodinos is now tasked with managing.

“With innovation back on the agenda in Australia, I think it’s important to acknowledge that taking a proactive, globally minded approach will make Australian businesses more competitive, successful and robust in the longer term,” he explains. “At FKH, we have certainly proven that is the case. The eLeg is a highly disruptive product that has changed the very concept of landing leg design, both in Australia and overseas.”

Fast Fact: The eLeg is operated with a push button and a simple high/low range gear lever and is easy to install. Find a detailed installation and operation video online on or google Fuwa TV.