How Two Alberta Tech Startups Discovered They Were Better Together

When Alberta tech startups True Site View Inc. and SmartMat moved into the GE Customer Innovation Centre (CIC) in Calgary this past spring, they finally met their match. Their perfect match, that is.

The two companies joined Zone Startups Calgary shortly after it launched at the CIC, a downtown innovation hub focused on collaborative solutions to business challenges. There, they discovered that they share similar values and vision, as well as the same frustration: inefficiencies in the industrial construction industry.

Founded by Amit Varma, True Site View closes the gap between planning and reality by creating precise digital models of capital projects. Using Digital Twin technology, they enable companies to eradicate rework from their engineering, fabrication and construction activity. SmartMat, with CEO Steve Fisher, also tackles setbacks and stoppages, by eliminating downtime from misplaced materials and manual inventory errors. SmartMat deploys Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology on project access mats, which are used to establish operations on muddy, swampy, or sandy soil.

Together, the founders realized they could further optimize capital projects by reducing cost overruns and delays—two problems so common in the energy industry, they’re often built right into the budget.

“These EPC [engineering, procurement and construction] companies put about a 20 percent contingency in there for the things they don’t know, and they still go 30 percent over that.,” Fisher says. “On average, these projects are costing 50 percent more than they should.”

To solve these challenges, True Site View and SmartMat combined their technologies to create what they call the “Model of Truth” — a digital 3D modelling and tracking process that ensures a project’s design plan works seamlessly with the on-the-ground realities, such as site conditions and layout, materials, and labour.

Using drones, lasers, ground robots, and photogrammetry to capture the physical site, the Model of Truth generates a digital duplicate within a millimetre’s accuracy. This digital twin allows companies to identify problems and discrepancies before engineering, fabrication and construction even begin.

“Imagine you had a crystal ball that said what would go wrong in six months,” Varma says. “It’s like that.”

 A project’s progress is tracked in real time using data streams from RFID sensors, GPS, and drones. That information feeds into artificial intelligence software that generates action lists, so that companies can see the most cost-effective solutions to any issue that arises.

Some big industry players are sitting up and taking notice. The duo counts Husky Energy, Suncor, and GE Renewable Energy among their clients.

True Site View Inc. and SmartMat merged into one company at the end of 2016, under the new name of Veerum Inc. After their successful collaboration on the Model of Truth, amalgamating their companies made perfect sense to Fisher and Varma.

“We had our own ways that were very complementary,” Varma says. “We thought that rather than playing instruments alone, we’d form an orchestra that provides customers with a beautiful experience.”

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