EHT Group’s flagship product, SmartTrace, is an innovative cloud-based software designed to monitor and manage heat trace systems. The collaborative research and development project enhanced the product’s Notes and Reporting capabilities, which assist heat trace managers in prioritizing alarms, saving energy, and mitigating financial, operational, and environmental risks.
Leveraging support from the Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI), EHT Group partnered with Conestoga’s Smart Manufacturing & Advanced Recycling Technologies (SMART) Centre on a collaborative research and development project to elevate the capabilities of their flagship product. The project produced remarkable results, EHT Group increased its customer base and provided its customers with valuable insights into the health of its heat trace infrastructure. In addition, the project resulted in significant cost savings, reduced carbon footprint, and mitigated financial, operational, and environmental risks for EHT Group’s customers.
Imagine the impact of an industrial facility saving millions annually, mitigating the risk of operational disruptions, and significantly reducing its carbon footprint. EHT Group, an innovative startup based in Kitchener, has turned this vision into reality. The startup offers a cutting-edge electrical heat tracing solution that has become an invaluable tool for industrial facilities across North America to optimize their operations.
A collaborative research and development (R&D) project played a pivotal role in driving the growth of EHT Group’s product, expanding its customer base, and delivering tangible results. Leveraging support from the Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI), EHT Group partnered with Conestoga’s Smart Manufacturing & Advanced Recycling Technologies (SMART) Centre to enhance their flagship product. The project expanded its capabilities by adding two new features to tackle critical maintenance and operational challenges faced by industrial facilities.
Electrical heat tracing uses heating cables on process equipment and piping systems. This versatile technology has numerous applications across various sectors, including oil and gas companies, chemical facilities, and wastewater facilities. It plays an important role in preventing freezing and maintaining specific temperatures for critical equipment.
“A large industrial facility with 3,000 to 10,000 heat trace circuits will typically have 100 heat trace circuit alarms each day. Maintaining the operational critical equipment and determining which heat trace circuits should be addressed first poses a significant challenge,” explained Eric de la Chevrotiere, Director of R&D at EHT Group.
Launched in 2017, EHT Group developed SmartTrace to aid industrial facilities in effectively prioritizing their malfunctioning heat trace circuits. SmartTrace is a user-friendly cloud-based software designed specifically for monitoring and managing heat trace systems. Industrial facilities gain enhanced visibility, substantial cost savings, and the ability to take full control of their heat trace infrastructure.
“Before SmartTrace, maintenance technicians would import all the data into a spreadsheet and employ various spreadsheet ‘magic’ tricks to find a solution,” said de la Chevrotiere. “SmartTrace captures that ‘magic’ and streamlines decision-making for prioritizing alarms.”
The collaborative R&D project’s primary focus revolved around developing two essential features: Notes and Reporting capabilities. The Notes feature empowers users to document circuit-specific information, providing valuable context for decision-making. This includes capturing details about circuits that may be in a lockout tagout state, meaning that they are purposely de-energized and secured for maintenance or safety purposes. By incorporating this information, the SmartTrace platform intelligently prioritizes and deprioritizes alarms, optimizes maintenance efforts, and ensures efficient workflows.
Simultaneously, the Reporting feature provides facilities with actionable insights about their heat tracing systems. The true value of SmartTrace is in providing facilities with metrics that reveal crucial insights into their heat trace infrastructure health.
Watch an overview of SmartTrace, a revolutionary cloud-based software designed to monitor and manage heat trace systems:
“It’s not about overwhelming heat trace managers with numbers like there are 20,000 circuits and 500 alarms; it’s about focusing on what will impact their operations,” elaborated Conor Howitt, Co-Founder of EHT Group. “SmartTrace shows managers which heat trace circuits need to be addressed immediately and the amount of power consumed or saved. These are metrics that truly matter to a company.”
Instead of overwhelming users with raw data, SmartTrace offers features that deliver meaningful metrics that directly impact operations and the company’s bottom line. Metrics such as power consumption, power saved, and real-time alarms requiring immediate attention help facilities minimize financial impacts, enhance safety protocols, reduce carbon emissions, and environmental risks.
The students played an integral role in the project as they were fully integrated into the development team, responsible for developing the new Notes and Reporting features. The new features underwent rigorous testing by the EHT Group team to ensure their effectiveness and usability. Once validated, these features were rolled out to all its customers, significantly enhancing their ability to monitor and manage their heat tracing systems.
Dushyant Puri, Research Project Manager at the Smart Manufacturing and Advanced Recycling Technologies (SMART) Centre at Conestoga College, was the Principal Investigator on the collaborative R&D project. Puri guided three Conestoga students: Gabriel Stewart, Kowcika Asaithambi, and Divyang Dankhara, who collaborated on the development of the Notes and Reporting features for the project. Subsequently, they successfully completed their respective programs at Conestoga. Stewart graduated from the Computer Software Engineering program, Asaithambi from the Mobile Solutions Development program, and Dankhara from the Software Engineering Technology program.
“I believe all the students involved in the project were exceptional, bringing unique perspectives and areas of expertise as they joined us at different stages of their program,” remarked Colleen McCann, Research Project Manager at Conestoga’s SMART Centre for Research and Innovation. “The students supported one another and Eric de la Chevrotiere provided them with hands-on guidance, creating a nurturing atmosphere conducive to growth and continuous learning.”
Both EHT Group and Conestoga’s SMART Centre expressed great satisfaction with the project outcomes. The project played a pivotal role in establishing EHT Group’s market position as leading experts in the maintenance and diagnosis of electrical heat trace systems, resulting in improved customer satisfaction ratings. With the advanced capabilities of SmartTrace, EHT Group successfully reduced maintenance man-hours and solidified its reputation with heat trace managers.
“SmartTrace was a young startup when we partnered with Conestoga’s SMART Centre on an R&D project,” expressed de la Chevrotiere. “This collaboration provided a step forward in propelling our product growth and achieving tangible results. Additionally, it enabled us to enhance our internal processes through the involvement of their students. We gained valuable insights throughout this entire experience.”
SONAMI provides innovative solutions, such as process optimization, designing and testing prototypes, evaluating new technologies, and developing and commercializing new or improved products. SONAMI leverages faculty, students, and state-of-the-market equipment, together with funding from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), to support manufacturing in Canada.
If you would like to discuss your organization’s needs with a SONAMI representative, please contact [email protected].