Australian Enterprise Awards 2022

34 APAC / Australian Enterprise Awards 2022 Flexcube is an innovator inwine and spirit making technology, creating next-generation barrels to replace traditional oak barrels to reduce environmental impact. Its vision is for its cutting-edge vessels to be used in all wineries and distilleries around the world as a viable, cost-effective and environmentally-responsible solutionwhichminimises the use of oak trees, water and labour in producing fine wine and spirits. The Flexcube maturation vessel is designed to completely accommodate wine and spirit logistics, and they can not only be used for production, but also as a transport unit to ship products between wineries, interstate and overseas. The key purpose behind Flexcube’s products is to reduce the environmental footprint of winemaking, while at the same time driving down the cost of production by efficiently using raw materials in its cubes to maximise the quality of wine produced. Flexcube’s team are specialists when it comes to developing products for wine and spirit making. They know how oxygen can be both beneficial and detrimental to wine production – the right amount of oxygen unearths a wine’s beauty perfectly. To achieve this precision in wine quality, the company’s cubes separate the elements of oxygen and oak to increase control and consistency, providing the oxygen element necessary in the maturation of wine through constant and linear passive oxygenation. The company also designed its BarriQ barrel oak quality staves with the environment in mind. Exclusively sourced from the same state forests, the oak is hand split and seasoned in the exact same way as that which is used to make traditional barrels. The difference is BarriQ barrel oak quality staves is convection toasted rather than fire toasted. By nature, fire toasting is inconsistent as it varies within and along the same piece of oak depending on the surface impact of the heat (toasting is the outcome of time and temperature; by varying these elements, the resulting toast varies as well). It is therefore difficult to replicate barrel to barrel. Convection toasting, however, is controlled and measured, producing uniformity of toast throughout the same piece of oak. The same level of toasting can be replicated infinite times, ensuring consistency from batch to batch. Uniformity doesn’t give complexity; but, with expertise, different toasts in different proportions are blended to produce that sought-after complexity – controlled and 100% replicable. The company has seen great success with its products, but it has unfortunately been held back due to the COVID restrictions – although, despite this, it was able to collaborate with RMIT University to further test and validate the conclusions of past investigations of its products. And now restrictions are lifting, there will be a lot of work done to showcase the new range of cubes in the industry. Flexcube couldn’t be where it is today without its staff, who are all very enthusiastic about its products, which are, as Flexcube Managing Director, Bill Willis describes it, “well beyond anything that has been available on the market before”. He continued, “All staff have provided input into the products and we can proudly say that it has been a team effort. None of the staff are shy when it comes to making recommendation or improving service delivery or products.” Meanwhile, the R&D team’s current focus is on a cube washer to clean the inside of the cubes automatically like a dishwasher. This will contribute to saving time and resources in preparing cubes to be used for winemaking. Bill tells us more about what is upcoming at Flexcube. “In the medium term, I see the company quickly achieving a turnover of about $10 million. This will enable us to do further work in R&D to find additional improvements in wine and spirit making. In getting to where we are today, a considerable amount of money and resources have been used in R&D and I see this as the key to future success.” Ultimately, it’s safe to say that Flexcube is a worthy winner within the Australian Enterprise Awards 2022, with its dedication to groundbreaking, eco-friendly innovations. Bill commented, “This award is testimony to the continuous improvement and continuous innovation of the company.” Company: Flexcube Contact: Bill Willis Email: [email protected] Website: Winemaking Innovation of the Year: Flexcube Evolution