Innovation success for family business in northern Alberta
Innovation has transformed a family-run business, boosting productivity and increasing safety. Integrity Industries, founded by Greg Wadsworth in 1990 in Sexsmith, has a proud history in reclamation and seismic line construction in northern Alberta. In 2008, when Greg’s son Lindsay joined the company, the business was going strong. But Lindsay was not content to rest on his father’s laurels and saw an opportunity to distinguish Integrity Industries from its competitors.
“There was a gap holding back our productivity and efficiency,” he explains. “We needed a better way to track inventory and staff in the field.”
The conventional system is to have staff check in by radio every two hours. “But let’s say someone gets hurt and doesn’t check in,” continues Wadsworth. “After not being able to reach them, a search begins from their last known location. There’s a lot of wasted time. The same goes for equipment. If you need a certain piece of equipment somewhere, you have to figure out where it is and dispatch it to a new location. When I started in the business it was unbelievable to me how no one knew where anyone or anything was at any particular time.”
This insight was the spark for the development of a software solution for tracking and communicating with people and equipment in real time. To achieve this, Wadsworth needed help and he turned to Bob Hall, Technology Development Advisor with Alberta Innovates. Hall encouraged Wadsworth to continue developing his roadmap for the technology, connected him with industry intelligence and resources, and assisted him in securing funding from Alberta Innovates through its Micro Voucher and R&D Associates programs.
“The help from Alberta Innovates was 100 per cent important for our business model,” says Wadsworth. “We didn’t have to give up any ownership in the company to accomplish the technology development goals. As a result, we could stay true to our vision of a northern Alberta company employing local people in good jobs.”
Integrity’s proprietary personnel, asset tracking and logistics management solution, called Sight Surveillance, is now used in-house. It allows the company to track and communicate with people and equipment in real time; it is designed specifically for use in remote areas where communications and transfer of data are limited. Wadsworth estimates that Sight Surveillance has been vital to the company winning a number of very large seismic line contracts. Integrity Industries now employs 30 full-time staff and more than 150 seasonal workers.
“We can do 30 per cent more work with 30 per cent less equipment than our competitors,” adds Wadsworth. “Our carbon footprint is less. Safety-wise, we’re reducing risk to people. We can take on jobs that require more equipment because we can deploy equipment more efficiently. This is an innovation success story.”