Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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Alberta companies receive money for R&D

December 17, 2008
By Alyssa Dalton


EDMONTON, Alta. – Precarn Incorporated, an Ottawa, Ont.-based independent not-for-profit company that supports the pre-commercial development of leading-edge technologies, recently announced that it would provide $2.8 million in funding to promote the research and development efforts of six first-of-their-kind intelligent systems projects in Alberta.

Under the program, Alberta companies and academic organizations will
commercially develop or advance innovative, made-in-Canada advanced
technologies. The goal is to help organizations become more productive
and globally competitive by working in collaborative teams to develop
advanced technological solutions that meet industry needs.
Innovequity Inc. of Edmonton, Alta., will receive  $600,000 for a
project that will automate up to 70 percent of the work required to
construct a building. With the support of Winalta Homes Inc. of
Acheson, Alta., and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology,
Innovequity has created a faster, less expensive and more precise
alternative to manual labour. The Geometric Construction System is a
robotic intelligent system that produces floor, ceiling and wall
panels, completely with heating, plumbing, electrical, insulation and a
vinyl finish, using common building materials such as wood, steel or
pre-formed concrete. Whereas it might take 15 manual labourers four to
six hours to build a fully serviced floor system, the automated system
can complete the same task in 30 minutes.
The Multi-site Adaptive Virtualized Information System (MAVIS) from
Data Gardens Inc. of Edmonton. Alta., in partnership with the
University of Alberta and Stantec Inc., is receiving $600,000 from the
Precarn program. The idea behind MAVIS, a proposed software platform
for scheduling and managing traffic flow between multiple information
systems over the Internet, is to allow computer resources to manifest
themselves dynamically where and when they’re needed.
With a $600,000 infusion from the Precarn program, groundbreaking
research led by Titan Logix Corp. of Edmonton is aiming to improve
current de-icing practices through enhancements to the company’s Guided
Wave Radar (GWR) technology, already proven effective as a "load buddy"
to monitor liquid levels in crude oil tankers and aviation refuelers.
Using radar pulses to measure levels, the technology is more reliable
and less costly than traditional turbine flow meters. Titan is adding
intelligence to the technology to enable the measurement of the
concentration of glycol from the top to the bottom of a tank, providing
a more accurate result than existing sensors that rely on spot
measurements. The company is also addressing asset management with
wireless technology to allow the dispatcher to co-ordinate the de-icing
process between the truck and tower more effectively.
Ukalta Engineering Corp. of Edmonton, Alta., is helping manufacturers
of wireless devices to build better products by enabling valuable
testing to occur earlier in the product design phase. The most
expensive phase of development is late stage testing, which typically
occurs outdoors, requires a final prototype to be built, and can cost
up to 100 times the cost of early stage algorithmic design testing.
With Ulkata’s Wireless Channel Simulator – a dedicated hardware device
that simulates different environments – those tests can be performed on
chipsets indoors before a final prototype is built, saving both time
and money. The academic partner working with Ukalta to develop the
Wireless Channel Simulator, which is receiving about  $300,000 through
the Precarn program, is the University of Alberta.
Projects for genetic testing and medical imaging were also approved.
Precarn is supported by the Alberta Ministry of Advanced Education, and Technology and Western Economic Diversification Canada.