Vice-President of Resources, Industry, and Solutions, Norda Stelo
By accurately predicting the potential for asset failure, a new digital tool helps organizations to optimize the investments needed to extend the asset’s life.
Replacing critical public infrastructure or industrial assets comes with economic and environmental costs. But not dealing with aging and deteriorating buildings or equipment can result in asset failure that severely jeopardizes worker and public safety.
Norda Stelo recently launched a digital solution called Stelar to better assess asset durability. Stelar is an asset performance management and strategic platform that collects, centralizes, and structures the data of physical assets so experts, as well as leaders of an organization, can make efficient and well-documented decisions on whether the asset’s useful life can be safely extended.
Combining decades of engineering expertise with machine learning, which integrates artificial intelligence, Stelar is the first technical product of Norda Stelo, a Canadian consulting engineering firm operating across Canada, the US, and abroad.
An innovative tool to make better decisions around physical assets
The idea was born from a strategic planning session the firm conducted a few years ago. “We were looking at two things — how to add more value to our clients, as well as how to improve the efficiency of our own engineers at work ,” says Sophie Boisvert, Vice-President of Resources, Industry, and Solutions at Norda Stelo, who has been leading the platform’s development.
With decades of experience in brownfield engineering projects, the company had established close working relationships with its client partners and communities, which gave it a good understanding of their asset durability challenges. “We also realized that about 30 per cent of our revenue was based on evaluating our clients’ existing assets for risk and potential failure,” says Boisvert. As a first step in building the Stelar platform, they decided to structure all the data needed to establish asset performance, health assessment, residual life and risks, as well as repair, refurbishment, or replacement costs, in one place on a mobile app. “This would make it easier for our engineers to inspect, prepare reports, and for our clients to make better decisions about their assets.” says Boisvert.
Exploring other ways to add value
Once the data was structured, the team at Norda Stelo found ways to add further value to the platform. With the ability for engineers and inspectors to record new inspection observations via customizable forms and to compile and list by asset the data generated by sensors, drones, or machine systems, the platform produces a complete, crystal-clear view of the asset. This leads to the identification of the health assessment and risk level associated with each observation, helping the asset manager to prioritize interventions, whether they be repairs, additional inspections or investigations, or full asset replacement, all while optimizing investment planning.
Because we have all the data from the assets, such as their GHG emissions, water consumption, and energy efficiency, we can help them understand and improve their sustainability performance and make more informed decisions by applying data intelligence to their ESG initiatives.
As the platform evolved, the Norda Stelo development team determined that Stelar is a useful tool for clients. “We realized the technology had enormous potential and could become a must have decision tool in asset management,” says Boisvert.
Stelar is currently being implemented in about 20 companies in the port, rail, and mining and metals markets. “Our technology has been implemented mostly in Quebec, but now but we’re expanding to the rest of Canada and the U.S. and are also looking to take our platform overseas to port authorities in Africa for example,” says Boisvert.
Helping clients meet ESG goals
The benefits of Stelar go well beyond improving asset performance, extending the life of existing facilities, and substantially reducing the risk of major asset failure. “With this tool, we’re also contributing to the preservation of the environment and the well-being of communities,” says Boisvert. “For example, by not having to replace critical equipment or create a new asset, you’re able to reduce your carbon footprint by limiting the use of new resources and thus limit your damage to the planet. As well, by helping asset managers of public infrastructure predict the potential for asset failure, they can allocate their budgets and investments accordingly and even save the taxpayers’ money.”
In addition, with new standards on asset management requiring environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations, Stelar is a valuable tool to help Norda Stelo’s clients achieve their sustainability goals. “Because we have all the data from the assets, such as their GHG emissions, water consumption, and energy efficiency, we can help them understand and improve their sustainability performance and make more informed decisions by applying data intelligence to their ESG initiatives,” says Boisvert.
Walking the talk
In addition to supporting the sustainability of its partners’ assets, Norda Stelo is working to lower its own carbon footprint. “We’ve committed to the objectives of being carbon neutral and eventually net zero as a company, and our Director of ESG and Decarbonization is working to not only reduce our own GHG emissions, but to evaluate the concrete impact we have in each project we undertake for our clients. This is our Impact Business Model (IBM),” says Boisvert. “Everything we do is in line with an approach of trying to have as much environmental and community benefits as possible with every project we undertake.”
And it seems to be working. Norda Stelo is the first Canadian engineering firm in its category to be a certified B-corporation, a designation indicating that the company is meeting high environmental and social performance standards.
“We are committed to doing business for the greater good and to helping our clients improve their environmental performance in the most cost-effective manner,” underlined Boisvert.
Learn more about Norda Stelo and its Stelar platform by visiting norda.com and stelar.ai.