Stowaways trying to sneak into Britain in the backs of lorries could be thwarted thanks to local inventor and entrepreneur Nik Cooper.
Nik has launched Dronfield-based Running Man Designs after creating a novel way to discourage illegal immigrants and save transport companies from being hit with hefty fines.
He came up with his invention – the Liqi-cord - after watching a TV programme about the UK Borders Agency, which highlighted the problem HGV drivers face when illegal immigrants, called “clandestines,” try to stowaway in their curtain sided lorries.
“Even though some drivers try to secure their vehicles with a ‘tilt cord’ - a wire rope coated in PVC which fits around the trailer through the clasps on the curtain tighteners - the clandestines are cutting this cord and getting into the vehicle where they hide in amongst the load,” said Nik.
“The cord is pinned and glued back together. When the driver returns to his vehicle and inspects the cord both visually and by tugging it he cannot see the cut or any evidence of a break in and therefore carries on his journey with his ‘extra’ load.
“I thought we needed a better cord, which is cost effective, simple to fit and can be used on any vehicle with a curtain side.”
Nik’s Liqi-cord is like a standard tilt cord, but has an additional PVC sheath around it, which contains a special, bright green, florescent liquid.
If the cord is cut, liquid leaks from the tube, leaving a visible gap as well as traces on the wagon and, sometimes, the floor. The liquid also leaves a greasy residue, which prevents the tilt cord being glued back together securely enough to prevent it coming apart when the driver gives it a tug.
What’s more, the fluorescent material shows up brightly at night when a light is shone on it.
“I have tried to keep everything as local as possible,” adds Nik. “The supplier of the liquid is a Sheffield based company and the manufacturing will be done in Rotherham.”
The Liqi-cord has been tested on week long journeys to Germany and Holland, via Calais, during which it successfully discouraged stowaways.
Mick Tasker, transport manager of TAPfreight, the Barnsley-based haulage company that road-tested the Liqi-cord, said: “Our lorry drivers went on runs in Europe with the Liqi-cord attached on two separate journeys.
“Drivers liked the fact that due to its bright green colour and whatever the weather conditions, the cord stood out very well against the wagon.
“They also commented that the cord was quicker and easier to fit than a standard TIR cord and had improved security clasps at each end. The greatest result was that even though the lorries ran the gauntlet of the Calais border crossing – known as the worst point for illegal immigrants breaking into wagons – there was no attempt to tamper with the Liqi-cord.”