Challenge: Creating an environmentally friendly and commercially feasible product
Solution: Using recycled rubber and a novel approach to building lobster traps
If at first you don’t succeed, keep pushing forward. This is Kent Ferguson’s motto and the foundation on which he is building RAP Technologies, a green start-up that is using recycled materials to produce a weighted runner for lobster traps.
Kent, the company’s founder and director, confirmed the idea for RAP’s first product was unique after he had a patent lawyer search to ensure nothing similar was already on the market. “There was nothing like it in the world,” says Kent, whose next step was to demonstrate feasibility. “I knew it could be done. I didn’t know if it could be replicated commercially.”
What Kent inherently understood was that if his lobster trap runner was commercially feasible, the Minto, NB, company would succeed. “We knew we had a winner because of the demand in the industry.”
At present, there are many lobster traps in Atlantic Canada. Quebec also has some, as well as New England. There is also immense export potential to other regions, such as California, Scandinavia, Western Europe, Australia, and the United Kingdom, notes General Manager Lucie Beaulieu. Already, RAP, which stands for rubber and plastics technologies, has many orders in the US.
The current version of the runner, now poised for full production, is made of hardened steel encapsulated in recycled rubber. The original prototype, however, used only rubber, which couldn’t be produced hard enough to withstand the rigors of lobster fishing. An encapsulated steel bar also fell short of the company’s quality standards.
Truckloads of rubber, which would otherwise be destined for landfills, are being reused by RAP each month. “The rubber is impervious to rot, prevents wear and tear on boats and equipment while also making them easier and safer to handle by workers,” notes Lucie. “All in all, this product increases fishing efficiency in an environmentally conscious and sustainable manner.”
The lobster trap runner is potentially the first of many products to be created and manufactured by RAP Technologies. The patent, notes Kent, is very broad. “Our goal five years from now is to have highly skilled technicians employed and guiding the production of advanced products.”
Partnerships focused on driving innovation and the development of new technologies play a key role in RAP Technologies’ continued growth. With support from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the Government of Canada is helping RAP Technologies improve the shellfish trap industry while finding ways to recycle used rubber. A recent investment of just under $200,000 is going towards designing production procedures and equipment to increase quality, safety and efficiency.
RAP Technologies is a prime example of how innovation and resourcefulness fuel Atlantic Canada’s economy, at home and beyond.
Do you have a business concept? Do you have an innovative idea to improve or grow your business? For more information on programs and services available to businesses in Atlantic Canada call 1-800-561-7862 or go to canada.ca/acoa.