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New Zealand company SYFT signs major deal with Australian Customs Services

Shelley Grell - 15/04/05

Australia’s major seaports will soon have the most advanced container toxicity screening in the world thanks to award winning technology invented and developed by Syft Technologies Ltd.

Syft Technologies, producer of advanced SIFT-MS analytical solutions for large-scale identification and analysis of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), has signed a significant export order with Australian Customs Services (Customs) to supply five Voice100 instruments to ports in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth. The order is worth in excess of NZ$2m and is to be delivered to by June 2005.

Customs will use the technology to analyse and measure fumigant levels within sea containers arriving into Australia – a process necessary to protect port workers from unsafe levels of toxic chemicals and eliminate threat to Australia’s agricultural based economies.

Without protection, exposure to chemicals in the fumigants can be lethal. Chemicals such as ethylene dibromide, phosphine, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, methyl bromide, ethylene oxide, sulfuryl fluoride and chloropicrin (trichloronitromethane).

Syft’s Voice100 instrument uses a patented technique involving SIFT-MS (selected ion flow mass-spectrometry) that can instantly and safely detect and analyse the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from these chemicals and more.

Geoff Peck, Chief Operating Officer of Syft Technologies explained, “Once the air sample is captured in a tedlar bag it is attached to an inlet on the Voice100. At the push of a button, operators can analyse and determine which fumigant or combination of fumigants were used in the container.

“Each chemical has its own target safety level and the user friendly screen interface of the Voice100 can immediately show the operator the concentration of fumigant and whether the container is safe to enter or not. All this happens in seconds with measurements down to low parts per billion (ppb).”


Geoff Peck, Chief Operating Officer of Syft Technologies
Geoff Peck, Chief Operating Officer of Syft Technologies
Photo source Syft Technologies
Click here to view a larger version

Mr Kim Woo, Manager Technologies, Australian Customs Service, said, "Customs identified a need to improve facilities to enable staff to test cargo containers for fumigants and other harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in a safe, fast and cost effective manner.”

“A number of alternate VOC detection technologies have been evaluated, and the Voice100 selected ion flow tube mass spectrometer from Syft Technologies has met Customs requirements for fumigant and associated VOC detection. We are working closely with Syft Technologies to develop the application further to meet other operational needs."

Syft’s Voice100 also offers Customs the potential to extend the service to other border security areas in the future.

About Syft Technologies
Syft Technologies is a private enterprise formed out of Canterbury University, New Zealand in 2002 to commercialise SIFT-MS technology (Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometry) – a scientific breakthrough previously confined to specialist research labs for identification of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

The company successfully honed the technique into an ingenious device called the Voice100 that can instantly and accurately identify trace level VOCs to a few parts per billion. For more information visit www.syft.com .

About Australian Customs Service
Australian Customs Service plays a vital role in protecting Australia's borders from the entry of illegal and harmful goods. Counter terrorism and improved quarantine intervention remain top government priorities as well as intercepting illicit drugs and other things potentially harmful to the community. Customs container examination facilities (CEFs) were funded under Australia’s ‘Tough on Drugs’ and ‘Protecting our Borders’ initiatives, to significantly increase the level of intervention in relation to sea cargo. They are one tool Customs uses to help protect Australia's borders. For more information visit www.customs.gov.au.

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