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Innovation at work

High-tech solutions recognized at inaugural OPG Generate Innovation Challenge

Three innovative ideas were recognized as among the best future-looking solutions for the energy industry in the inaugural OPG Generate Innovation Challenge.

Three companies were recognized for their innovative solutions at OPG's first Generate Innovation Challenge.
Three companies were recognized for their innovative solutions at OPG's first Generate Innovation Challenge.

The program, launched in collaboration with MaRS Discovery District, accepted ideas from innovators from across the country, including start-ups, entrepreneurs, academics, and scientists. Applicants offered solutions in four core areas for OPG and the industry – Workforce and Planning, Inspection Automation, Automated Monitoring, and Data Collection in Constrained Environments.

“For OPG, finding innovative ways to deliver clean and reliable power in the most cost-effective way possible is extremely important, and this challenge helps us do just that,” said Nicolle Butcher, Senior Vice-President, Corporate Business Development and Strategy at OPG.

While there weren’t sufficient applications in the Data Collection in Constrained Environments category, several promising ideas were presented for the other three issues. On Nov. 18, three semi-finalists for each of the remaining challenges showcased their ideas and gave their best pitches to a panel of judges consisting of OPG executives and experts from the industry.

On Dec. 2, the winners were chosen and announced in Toronto. Each successful candidate will receive an initial prize of $25,000, as well as mentoring from OPG employees and access to the company’s facilities, data, and technical expertise needed to develop and grow their solutions.

In the Inspection Automation category, the specific challenge was to reduce travel time and costs related to basic and routine inspections at OPG’s remote hydro generating stations across Ontario. Winner AOMS Technologies impressed the judges with a flexible, Internet-of-Things solution to help efficiently collect and analyze important data from hardware at these facilities. AOMS’s platform consists of a network of battery-powered wireless sensors connected to the cloud, each talking to one another, that would help keep tabs on the condition of equipment at OPG’s stations.

In the Workforce and Planning challenge, JobBliss Inc. won with their employee management platform. JobBliss’s product promises to help OPG better organize its entire talent pool through a real-time database featuring all approved contractors, project statuses, hires, manager activities, and work histories.

The final category, Automated Monitoring, called out for a solution to help reduce downtime of critical assets at OPG’s hydro, nuclear and solar stations. The winner, Systems with Intelligence, offered a non-intrusive monitoring solution that uses thermal and visual sensors to gauge the health of critical equipment. The technology can analyze data to determine when and what maintenance or repair should be performed, as well as detect any changes in equipment function, without the need to take the piece of equipment out of service.