@AuManufacturing is on the hunt to identify and celebrate Australia’s 50 most innovative manufacturers. Here, Peter Roberts profiles one of 2023’s most innovative – 3D scanning manufacturer for the apparel sector, Bodd.
In a back street off trendy Chapel Street Prahran in Melbourne what looks like a warehouse converted to a town house is the unlikely home of a trailblazer in the introduction of technology into the millennia old apparel business.
3D body scanning and data insights company Bodd’s offices are dominated by the company’s flagship whole body scanner which uses multiple lenses, sensors and software to collect large amounts of body data from any individual.
The data is used to create a personalised, unique customer profile that allows uniforms and clothing to be custom made or chosen from stock for each person without their having to try on numerous garments.
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Considering the New Zealand Defence Force – which used Bodd’s scanners – needs to select more than 100 pieces of apparel for every new soldier, the issuing of uniforms and kit has become a far simpler, less time consuming and far more accurate process.
Other users include SA Police, Fire Rescue Victoria and CFA, and clothing providers Australian Defence Apparel and Stewart & Heaton Clothing Company.
All the customer has to do is stand on the Bodd scanner, which was developed for manufacture and made by Melbourne’s Bosch Australia Manufacturing Solutions (BAMS). Having Bosch as its manufacturer is a positive with large customers who may not feel comfortable dealing with a small Melbourne startup.
A lively discussion can be heard from the rear room where a software and hardware engineer are deep in conversation about a R2 version of the Bodd scanner with greater data capturing capability now under development.
Bodd CEO and co-founder Rob Fisher arrives on the scene and explains the company has 16 employees but few work in the office every day, including co-founder Dave McLaughlin.
“We are right in the middle of startup and scale up, that’s literally where we are now.” said Fisher.
“So we have got scanners in market that are generating consistent revenues for us, with automatic renewals at the end of three years.
“We don’t charge for the scanner, we charge on a per scan basis.
“So we have a lucrative revenue stream off the back of deploying the hardware which is a high value asset, and then we charge for the use of that asset and the (data) outputs that we generate that add value.”
Bodd’s system as a service model sees it retain ownership of the scanner and 3D data, with the data shared with the client or consumer, or further processed to provide insights that are of value.
As well as providing body size and dimensions, the multi-lens scanner can gather information such as body weight and muscle mass, vital signs such as oxygen saturation and visual information such as eye and hair colour – opening up numerous potential markets.
The simplest use case is for a retailer or a company providing uniforms, which can generate after less than 60 seconds of scanning the unique size recommendations for each customer.
“The customer doesn’t want the body data, they want the size recommendations for each bit of kit head to toe.”
Bodd has raised around $8 million including grant funding from the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre to get to a stage where it expects to be cash flow positive in the near future. There are also successful collaborations with Swinburne, Deakin and RMIT universities.
This plus the potential of discussions with very large potential customers now underway will pave the way for a further capital raise.
On our visit to Bodd @AuManufacturing can’t help but see the names of some huge United States businesses that have equally huge uniform needs – commercial in confidence negotiations are underway with these customers.
Companies with thousands of employees would only have to feed the Bodd data straight into their CRM systems 60 seconds after a scan is complete to issue the right suite of products from a central warehouse. The potential time savings and greater accuracy offered is obvious.
Fisher is at first reluctant to answer directly the question about the competitors the business faces.
He said: “There are 3D scanners out there for sure – we haven’t invented 3D scanning – and then there are other, we will call them ‘products’ that are trying to tackle the same problems as ours.
“But no-one has built as unique a product as ours is, so I think we have a fair sized moat around us for the time being.
“Our biggest competitive advantage right now is time to market.”
So what has Fisher learned in this period of initial market penetration and, now, scale up?
“No two companies are the same and having social proof in the market is just gold.
“Achieving the first breakthrough is bloody which is why having good collaborative partners in the early stages is so important.
“But once you have proof in market you find that other customers will follow quickly such that we are now onboarding clients without the need to engage in any type of proof of concept with them.
“They can look at the results and the case studies and the value that we are providing.”
Bosch to manufacture 3D scanners for Bodd
Listen to Bodd CEO and co-founder Rob Fisher in podcast conversation with Brent Balinski here:
Perfectly-fitting descriptions might be hard, but manufacturing definitely matters for Bodd
Pictures: Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre/founders Rob Fisher (left) and Dave McLaughlin with a Bodd 3D scanner/defence apparel
Australia’s 50 Most Innovative Manufacturers is an annual campaign by @AuManufacturing. It has been made possible through the generous support of MYOB, CSIRO, and the NSW government’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Facility. Be sure to check back at this website for regular updates, including profiles of nominees and other information.