Technology in Trades

Using 3D lift planning makes crane operation safer and more efficient at All-West Crane

All-West Crane and Rigging has implemented a cutting edge new technology which makes their crane operation safer and more efficient. The company uses 3D Lift Planning software, developed by A1A Software, to develop a plan for best utilizing the right crane and rigging for all materials and equipment for each project. The software provides a 3D representation of the job site, and takes into consideration the weight and dimensions of the items needing to be lifted, any site hazards or landscaping, and determines the right crane (or cranes) and rigging required.

Most importantly, 3D Lift Planning makes crane operation much safer, and All-West Crane and Rigging is proud of their safety record, as well as their Certificate of Recognition from the BCCSA for their Health and Safety Management System.

Integrating technology vital for Altac Services

Working as a tradesperson for Altac Services requires familiarity with technology. Altac’s tradespeople are equipped with GPS trackers and cellphones, and use a web based application to sign into jobs. The use of GPS and cellular technology helps Altac maintain accuracy with their billing, and track workers for safety reasons when they work in remote areas.

Altac’s Plumbers also use high-definition drain cameras as part of their job. The high-definition drain cameras help their plumbers to understand which areas of plumbing are likely to need more attention without having to dig or cut-out too many holes. This helps them to reduce waste as well as save effort, time, and money.

Electrification of vehicles requires new skills of automotive service technicians at Audi

Audi offers two training courses, one for hybrid cars, followed by training for electric cars. Training on how to safely work with hybrid or electric vehicles is extremely important, and Audi has a set of policies and procedures in place for technician safety. In Audi service facilities, only trained technicians can work on hybrid or electric cars. This is manageable with the current size of the hybrid and electric fleet. However, in the future all automotive service technicians will need to be trained to work with hybrid or electric vehicles. 

Safety is of paramount importance due to the risk of electrical shock or burns when working with high voltages. Technicians also need special personal protective equipment such as high-voltage insulated gloves and insulated tools.

3D modelling improves safety and quality for Collective Carpentry

Jan Pratschke, one of the owners of Collective Carpentry, learned to use both Dietrich’s and CADWork, two 3D modelling design software programs, while taking a course in timber framing. Incorporating the use of 3D modelling software facilitated the transition of Collective’s practice from on-site construction to a pre-fabrication shop model. Now the bulk of their construction can be completed within an indoor controlled environment, which protects workers, tools, and building materials from the elements. This also ensures materials and tools are protected from theft. The software can also be used to digitally inventory materials, which enables efficient management, and reduces waste.

Using 3D modelling technology changes the way Collective Carpentry works with other trades. Collective will not begin to work on a project until everyone else involved, architects, customers, other trades, etc. has provided input about the plans. This, in turn, forces everyone involved in the project to engage in clear and complete planning up front.  “Keeping everyone abreast of the big picture helps to increase efficiency, reduce waste, and minimize mistakes,” says Jan.

Craftsman Collision embraces and leads changes in technology

Craftsman Collision uses the ALLDATA Collision database system, which includes Original Equipment Manufacturer procedures such as sectioning and structural repairs, handling of new materials, and panel removal and replacement. Craftsman completes a pre and post repair scan, to ensure that all repairs, including faults which are in the system and not showing up on dashlights. Craftsman’s commitment to leadership includes setting the standard for environmental friendliness. The company uses water-based paint, as well as a new nitrogen-powered NitroHeat paint curing system which can reduce paint consumption by up to 25%.

Craftsman has new welders which can weld metal back to factory weld, and a Nitroheat  welder that can weld plastic components such as headlights and bumpers. The company also uses Genesis Velocity laser measurement systems to ensure that repairs return a vehicle’s structure to its pre-collision state. Laser measures report on the exact condition of the vehicle’s frame before, during and after repairs for evidence of damage severity and repair quality.

State-of-the-art technology supplements culinary skills at Fairmont

One significant piece of technology used in the Fairmont Pacific Rim kitchen is the Rational Oven.  These computerized ovens can be programmed and networked, connected to a PC, smart phone, or tablet. Each oven can push updates over the network, informing staff of current temperatures and cook-times, the availability of the unit, completion of a cooking process, or the need for servicing. Each oven can be programmed to set varying temperatures for different time intervals, with programs saved and distributed to other ovens on the network. Nathan Brown, Executive Chef at Fairmont Pacific Rim, describes how the rational ovens have made things faster and easier in the kitchen: “These ovens make things easy. With most new tools, you test it once to make sure it works, and then you don’t have to check on it again. Not having to spend as much time and energy re-checking on things helps the cooking process go faster. It also makes things safer as you’re able to concentrate on what you’re doing.“

Another piece of technology used by the kitchen staff at Fairmont Pacific Rim is the immersion thermal circulator by PolyScience. Immersion circulators are laboratory tools used by biologists and chemists to create water baths to allow them to keep samples at a controlled temperature. Chefs like Nathan Brown use immersion circulators to create baths to cook food – a process known as Sous Vide cooking. They vacuum-seal ingredients in plastic bags and cook them in the baths. They can set the water to cook the ingredients at an exact, but lower temperature. Due to the uniform temperature within the bath, the ingredients get cooked evenly. 

Technology required to service heavy duty machines at Great West Equipment

Paul Lawrence, V.P. Customer Support at Great West Equipment, says that technology has transformed the work of Heavy Equipment Technicians. The machines are sophisticated, with computers used for diagnostics, function calibration, programming, service and parts information. Technicians at Great West Equipment also use technology to communicate. A mechanic in the field needing help with diagnostics can FaceTime with the lead mechanic, or upload videos of the equipment in action to connect with manufacturers.

Where Great West Equipment has innovated beyond many in their sector is the use of high density parts storage by their Partspeople, through a Kardex Vertical Lift Module system. Kardex combines barcode scanners, conveyor systems, lifting devices and robotic technology to create a fully automated process.  “The old days of grabbing a partsbook and flipping through it are gone, everything is now online with parts information being updated in real time,” Paul says.

Greyback Construction innovates to improve construction sustainability

Greyback’s commitment to Sustainable Construction has led the company to incorporate the use of Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) and Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) Panels. Structural Insulated Panels include an insulating foam core, and are extremely strong, energy efficient, and cost effective. Cross Laminated Timber Panels are multi-layered mass timber panels that can be made from trees killed by the mountain pine beetle. The panels are lightweight yet very strong, with superior acoustic, fire, seismic, and thermal performance. Both types of panels are fast and easy to install, generating almost no waste onsite. These panels are currently being used in a project Greyback is working on in partnership with the Penticton Indian Band to design, build and market a 500-acre mixed-use residential community of 600 homes with protected lands surrounding the community. Greyback has developed a very strong and beneficial working relationship with local First Nations providing not only facilities, but employment opportunities as well.

Software makes building modular homes cleaner, faster and better at Metric Modular

Revit, the drawing software, allows builders to design structures in a virtual 3D environment and to create 2D plans for builders to work off. What sets Revit apart from other CAD programs is its inclusion of what are called families, categories of objects grouped together with predefined parameters. These families comprise things like “living rooms” or “bathrooms” which can be easily added and modified to fit any project.

Metric Modular invested in training for its employees to learn how to incorporate Auto Desk Revit in their approach to building. Tim Epp, manager of manufacturing, said they first hired a university student as a summer intern to help Metric develop families in Revit, and later sent some of its tradespeople for further training in the program.

Partnership to develop technology for small scale bakeries

Origin is looking to change the manually intensive way bakers portion cookies. Currently, bakers use portion dividers when mass producing cookies. These are ice-cream scoops – each a different color in accordance with portion of dough needed for the cookie. The method is to manually scoop one portion and then push it out onto the tray. This becomes problematic when bakers prepare orders of 2,000 cookies several times a week. Using a cookie portioning machine, bakers could load dough to be dispensed onto trays in uniform size and shape.  Tara Black, co-owner of Origin, explains how this change would benefit bakers: “We’re trying to get away from injury due to repetitive movements of the hand and arm, like carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s a preventative measure.”

Alongside increasing health and safety for bakers, a cookie portioning machine would also positively impact bakery production. Tara notes: “A cookie portioning machine would increase productivity, so portions could be divided out a little bit faster than what somebody would be able to do manually.”

However, cookie portioning machines can only benefit bakeries if they can access it. Cookie portioning machines exist, but they are expensive and designed for mass-production factories. Tara says the machine in development by Origin and Camosun is being designed with affordability in mind: “Cookie dividing machines are designed for larger scale bakeries, and usually start around $15,000. We want to develop something that would work for small scale bakeries and would not push past between $1,500, so it’s affordable. “

Laser alignment ensures consistency in steel structures at Prime Quality Construction

The team works together to erect steel frames, columns, beams, and girders for construction sites, and will check the vertical and horizontal alignment of the pieces of building’s framework. While this used to be done manually with bubble levels or plumb bobs, many in the sector (including Prime Quality Construction) have adopted use of laser alignment equipment, which allows for greater consistency in simultaneous measurements in the field, preventing false starts and expensive rework. While technical training covers the basics of laser levels, Prime Quality Construction provides additional training on the job to ensure employees are ready to use the tools and equipment.

Technology for trades integrated into wastewater treatment plant design and build

Saltworks builds plants directly from 3D models. Pipefitters and fabricators work with laptops holding the 3D model. Computer controlled machining and cutting are used extensively, which provides precision and repeatable parts. Tradespeople are integrated into the design process, often providing valuable feedback on how to improve the product at the 3D model stage. Ben Sparrow, Saltworks’ CEO says: “There is no segregation of design and idea ownership, it is what results in the best product.”

Saltworks has a strong focus on training and professional development, including in-house training for its tradespeople on 3D models. However, Ben notes that the most important training they provide to their tradespeople is that they are “integral to our product, to make the design more safe, easier to service, and to be the last line of defense for poor planning.”

Technology creates cost-effective, sustainable energy solutions at Terratek Energy

During times of peak sun, many buildings equipped with solar panels produce more than enough energy to sustain themselves. However, this can present challenges in the winter months when days are shorter and darker. Terratek’s tradespeople help clients design and build a system that will enable the storage of excess energy created during those peak times. Terratek creates these energy storage systems for clients through the installation of products like Tesla’s Powerwall. The Powerwall is a large rechargeable lithium-ion battery designed to store the energy electricity collected through solar panels. This battery can be used to store electricity for use when the sun is not shining or during peak hours when drawing power from the grid is most expensive. The Powerwall can also be used to provide back-up power in the event of grid power outages.

Technology enables Vertial Grain Projects to customise and reuse materials

The Built Green Canada certified company is committed to responsible sustainability practices in the residential building sector, and they incorporate building technologies to ensure a healthier, more durable home with a lower environmental impact along with costs savings to the homebuyer. As part of this approach, the company strives to use recycled materials wherever possible. 

Their full-service, in-house, custom millwork shop is at the heart of what they do. This enables Vertical Grain Projects to store construction materials for later use, or to adapt them for use in a renovation. For example, in one project where a loved, long-standing tree was cut down to make space for a renovation, the wood was milled and prominently used in the new home. Cabinetmakers and carpenters working with Vertical Grain Projects use computer assisted design software to design and build the millwork that will sets their renovated houses apart. Their projects have been finalists and winners for multiple Canadian Home Builders’ Association of BC Georgie Awards.

Technology makes VMAC Global Technology Inc more competitive

In VMAC‘s fabrication shop, welders (fabricators) use state-of-the-art equipment. A plasma table helps them cut metal, using electricity to heat gas until it becomes plasma, which is then used to cut materials. The table is synced with a computer program which directs cuts using a cartesian plane to plot exact points. VMAC fabricators also use a robotic welding unit, the Lincoln Electric E-Cell. The fabricator loads pieces into the fixtures, closes the door, and the machine runs a program which welds the pieces together. Finally, fabricators use a process called cold metal transfer, where an arc is created using lower heat than in typical welding processes and enables the user to weld in every position.

VMAC’s machinists also use high-tech solutions to help them with their work. Machinists use computer numerical controlled (CNC) lathes and machining centres to create parts. Commands specifying the dimensions of each part are generated through computer-aided design and manufacturing software, so parts can be created to specification. Once completed, the part is sent to the quality assurance lab, which analyzes it using a Coordinate Measuring Machine to ensure its dimensions accurately meet design specifications. Information regarding these measurements are sent back to the machinist’s computer station in real-time, providing him or her with information needed to make decisions about whether to adjust the machining parameters and offsets used in the CNC machine.

Automotive service technicians use computers to repair and modify vehicles at Whistler Blackcomb

All automotive service technicians now need to have some understanding of computer science. Dan Moody, an automotive service technician for Whistler Blackcomb, says “With the automotive industry, every vehicle has at least 20 or 30 computers on it. They all network and talk to each other, and they all use each other as assets to achieve a common goal.” The network Dan is describing is the Controller Area Network (CAN), a set of connected computers, also known as Electronic Control Units (ECUs). Each ECU has sensors and switches which detect changes in temperature, pressure, voltage, speed, acceleration, and other information about a vehicle’s performance. ECUs transmit and listen to each other for these changes, using the input to help perform their specific duties, such as rolling up the windows, controlling the engine, and controlling the transmission. The CAN facilitates the flow of data.

Smart kitchens support cooks to produce consistently beautiful food at White Spot

Shauna Begley, White Spot’s Director of Information Systems explains how smart technology works in the kitchen: “We have a monitor and bumper at every cook station: fry area, oven, and grill. Each menu item is assigned a cook time. For example, say you have an order for a burger and a Cesar salad. The burger will take 6 – 7 minutes to cook, and the salad will take a minute. The burger will show up on the screen at the grill station first, and the Cesar will show up on the screen at the salad station 5 – 6 minutes later. Meanwhile, no one has to call out the order or coordinate the effort. The items get prepared so they’re ready to go at the same time.”

The smart kitchen system at White Spot also has support for cooks called “Team Assist” built into it. Cooks can access recipe cards for each menu item at the touch of a button. Garrett Weston, White Spot’s Regional Kitchen Manager, and Key Lead on the smart kitchen project, says: “For training purposes it’s great. Even for existing staff who are working at a newer station, or who may not remember the proportions in a recipe, this can be a quick reference for them. It also shows them what our plating is, so we have more consistency within the brand.”