It's the kind of story tech entrepreneurs dream about.
Northern Tasmanian tech wizard and Definium Technologies founder and chief executive Mike Cruse saw off his largest order last month to national equipment hire company Coates.
The 5000-strong order for Difinium's tracking and monitoring devices shipped last month and another 7500-unit order is expected sometime next year.
Definium first began developing the new tech about two years ago, when Coates began investigating how it could monitor and track its equipment - but the design brief had some challenging requirements.
"So the device had to be able to be installed in 15 minutes or less, which meant we couldn't wire anything in," Mr Cruse said.
But Definium found a workaround - vibrations.
Their new device can be attached directly to the equipment and then monitor how it is being operated through the vibrations the motor generates. However, understanding all the different vibrations the equipment might experience took some pretty intelligent tech.
"We spent quite a few months refining, both the hardware design and the software that goes into the device," he said.
"We can now tell the difference between the vehicle running or being transported on some other vehicle that's also running," he said.
After months of iterations and roughly 25 prototypes, Coates gave the green tick and put its first order for 5000 units. But with that success came its own unique set of problems for the small Invermay operation.
"It's the largest single product order we've ever had and there were a lot of challenges associated with that, just ordering things and taking delivery," Mr Cruse said.
"We had one occasion where I think we had 10,000 D-cell batteries arrive - suddenly we needed a forklift."
The tech start-up has been gathering attention in recent years, winning the 2021 Tasplan Business Excellence Award in March. Mr Curse also won the Tasmanian Pearcey Entrepreneur of the year award in 2020.
Building on the recent success, Definium now expects the Coates project alone to more than double the size of Definium's operation to 18 full-time employees, an important success story for an industry continuing to be hit by a shipping crisis and a worldwide silicon chip shortage. Mr Cruse said the latter problem was particularly hard, as it forced the company to buy up parts in bulk.
"We had to start buying things as soon as we could because we'd go to buy the components and the lead time has gone from two weeks to 52 weeks."
"Getting an order like that is a real boost to a small technology company in Launceston."
Looking forward, Definum will be preparing for the next Coates order and Mr Cruse hopes his company's success working with such a large client will set an example for the wider industry.
"Coates had to compare the risk of going with an overseas manufacturer, with the risk of working with a small company. I'm just hoping this might be seen as an example of how big companies or government departments can go local. It makes a huge difference," he said.
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