A pair of engineers who have developed an automated system for retrieving individual items in warehouses were honored Friday with a $10,000 award from an Ohio-based firm.
EZ Way Systems, the brainchild of Charles Daughtery and Brad Harris, was among 14 contenders for the Soin Award presented by Soin Corp., which owns Sundance Products, a plastics recycler in Gainesville and Buford.
Rajesh Soin, who heads the company which bears his name, said he was impressed by the EZ Way entrepreneurs.
“This is very encouraging, and their enthusiasm is excellent,” said Soin, who expanded the innovation program to Gainesville through the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. “The real benefit is the exposure they receive.”
Daughtery and Harris are awaiting patents on their system, which is a series of scooplike devices that can pickup and transfer single items, such as a can or a package, instead of an entire case or large container.
Their business is housed at the Manufacturing Development Center of Lanier Technical College at Featherbone Communiversity.
“The fact that there is a financial award helps us at this time when we are small,” Harris said. “It is the relationships we are building that are more important through meeting people, getting their ideas, input and help in developing the product that will eventually go on the market.”
Both men concede that the idea, which they have been working on for five years, moved to the front burner when their engineering and land planning business began feeling the effects of the economic downturn.
“About two years ago, our other business started diminishing because of the housing market,” Harris said. “Had it not been for the economic crisis, we would not have shifted over to what we are doing now.”
They are awaiting word from the U.S. Patent Office on their various patents. He said the U.S. government process can take from three to seven years.
“We applied for our patents in 2006 and the patent office is a great deal slower than the Patent Cooperation Treaty and we’ve already gotten back their favorable ruling on our 17 patent documents,” Harris said.