With the EPIC, AUROCO developed a climbing and rope safety device that is already used in industry, on pylons, towers and rooftops. The plan is now to take this fully automated high-tech device into climbing centres as well.
„With your help it will revolutionise sport climbing!“
Climbing more safely in industry and sport: the era of electronic safety devices has just begun! It all started with one simple question: is there a way to climb without a belay partner without compromising on safety? After many years of development, the answer is a resounding “yes”.
Born out of a passion for climbing and developed with an eye for detail: a combination of mechanics and electronics, versatility and convenient remote control make the EPIC (“Electronic Partner for Individual Climbing”) unique and a genuine innovation.
The device is the first product of the mechatronics experts from AUROCO. Its industry version has been sold since 2015 through distributor SKYLOTEC (turnover in 2015: €271,000). AUROCO now plans to seek crowdinvesting to take the device into climbing centres. The funding will enable the company to make the necessary technical adaptations and obtain international certification for a device involving dynamic rope.
What is more, the Munich-based start-up intends to equip the next-generation EPIC with voice control and a smartphone app. The goal is clear: to establish electronics in fall arrestor and rope safety technology.
“The guys from AUROCO have created something totally new with the EPIC. The technology opens up entirely new creative possibilities for me.“
From the idea to the first Prototyp. Florian Widmesser came up with the idea of a fully automated climbing safety device when he was studying for a degree in mechatronics at the Regensburg University of Applied Sciences and he devised the basic concept as part of his degree thesis. The first business plan illustrated the potential of the invention and led to funding from EXIST and Flügge as well as success in phases 1 and 2 of the North Bavarian Business Plan Competition (now BayStartUP). In 2011, things got serious: together with Business Management graduate Jan Lohse, the inventor founded AUROCO GmbH.
Patented, certified – established?
The two founders knew that it would not be an easy ride. They needed to develop the freshly patented invention into a well performing prototype and subsequently meet the certification requirements that were not yet fully defined. Any safety-related equipment must satisfy high requirements to be sold within the EU. When it comes to a genuine innovation, there is the additional problem that there is no standard regulation fitting the new applications yet! After numerous fall tests with a 150 kg weight, innumerable used energy absorbers and a nerve-racking continuous abseiling test lasting eight hours – quite apart from the extensively detailed documentation of all the components – Florian and Jan finally held the test certificate for EU approval in their hands.
One very important aspect was to involve various experts in the development work, including people from BG Bau, BG ETEM, TÜV Süd, DEKRA EXAM, Deutsche Bahn Energie and 50 Hertz.
Early market success and the next steps. In early 2013, the company established contact with the specialists in fall arrest equipment from SKYLOTEC in Neuwied. The two companies jointly funded the certification process and an agreement about SKLOTEC accepting 100 units for sale allowed the manufacture of the first production series to proceed. The sales partner for the EPIC is well positioned in all the important markets and exhibits at the important trade fairs.
While the game-changing EPIC as an alternative safety device is gradually establishing in various industrial applications (power pylons, railway overhead gantries, crane beams, high-rack warehouses, etc.), AUROCO is now focusing on three areas:
Adapting the EPIC to sport climbing
Setting up an international sales operation (industry and sport climbing) with a focus on North America
Developing the device further to produce a 2.0 version with voice control and smartphone app
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