Cambrian College has partnered with a local software company -- Sofvie Inc. -- to create an industrial safety application to make it safer to work in heavy industry, such as mining, forestry and construction.
Cambrian R&D, the College’s Applied Research division, and the local firm are working on a Sofvie integration system with an Internet of Things (IoT) device that acts like an electronic “emergency off switch” to prevent unqualified workers from using certain equipment or undertaking specific tasks, said a release from the college.
The college said this two-year project is being made possible through $150,000 in funding from the Government of Ontario through the Ontario Centre for Innovation’s (OCI) Voucher for Innovation and Productivity (VIP) program. This funding was matched with a further $150,000 investment by Sofvie for a total project value of $300,000, said Cambrian.
The project comes at a good time, said the college, as Canada and Ontario are poised to be world leaders in BEV (battery electric vehicle) technology and the mining of critical minerals.
Sofvie said its proposal is to analyze an employee’s electronic training record while they are attempting to engage with specific vehicles and equipment. The solution works in collaboration with an onboard IoT device installed. The vehicle or equipment will only become operational if the employee’s training records match the threshold of training required for authorized and qualified operation.
Gus Minor, Sofvie's Chief Innovation Officer said the idea is to ensure the right people are using the right equipment.
“Right now, there is no way, in real-time, to validate a worker’s level of training in the field on a particular process or piece of equipment, which could result in someone who is not properly trained or qualified working in an unsafe situation for them and potentially others,” Minor said.
“Cambrian R&D is a great partner to test and refine this system, which we believe will lead to safer workplaces, fewer injuries on the job, and reduced costs for equipment maintenance and repairs due to damage from improper use," he added.
The project will be based at Cambrian College’s Glencore Centre for Innovation. The project will employ four researchers and between six and 12 Cambrian students.
Jazmyn Zarichney is a Cambrian student who worked on a previous research project between Cambrian R&D and Sofvie. Originally from the community of Whitefish, Ontario, Zarichney was hired as a Junior Data Analyst full-time by Sofvie in 2020 upon her graduation from Cambrian’s Health Analytics program.
“Working with Cambrian R&D gave me the tools I needed to get into the workplace,” Zarichney said.
“If granted the opportunity to work in applied research, I would encourage all Cambrian students to take it and get involved," she added.
College president Bill Best said he was impressed with the partnership.
“Increasingly, colleges are working with industry and government to drive innovation right across all sectors of the economy,” Best said. “It’s making industry more effective and efficient, and for students and faculty, it ensures they are up-to-date on the latest trends in
technology and innovation. It makes for industry-leading faculty and students with a big competitive edge when it comes to finding employment after graduation. I want to thank the Government of Ontario, OCI, and Sofvie for their support of this initiative.”
Vic Fedeli, Ontario's Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, recently commented on how the mineral strategy would be vital to Ontario's auto industry.
“This is an exciting time in the history of Ontario's mining industry as our Driving Prosperity auto plan and our first-ever Critical Minerals Strategy will help the province play a massive role in the emerging North American electric vehicle battery industry,” Fedeli said.
"By positioning our province to leverage its critical mineral wealth, there is an incredible opportunity to connect Northern Ontario and southern economies to build a full end-to-end made-in-Ontario supply chain for emerging technologies."