Bringing small manufacturers to the cloud nets RtTech Startup Canada’s innovation award

New Brunswick-based RtTech Software Inc. was named Startup Canada’s most innovative startup of the year on Wednesday, at an awards ceremony in Toronto.

The managed service provider has built an operational intelligence platform on top of Microsoft’s Azure cloud infrastructure and offers applications to small to medium-sized manufacturers that would normally be out of their reach. Atop the CN Tower, Keith Flynn spoke about netting the award and explained what RtTech has accomplished since it was founded in November 2011.

“When we talk about operational intelligence, it’s giving you the visual tools at a very high level to easily identify where your problems are,” he says. “With a glance, you should be able to tell how well you’re doing based on benchmark performance.”

RtTech is currently working with 61 clients – many with multiple sites – across 16 different countries, Flynn says. At its core, the company collects data at the machine level from the manufacturing floor. Tapping into information about running status, energy levels, and the materials moving through the machine, the platform tries to “capture the essence of what the machine is doing,” Flynn says.

The firm offers two different applications. Rt Duet is designed to track machine downtime and classify problems into categories, with the aim of being able to make a plan to reduce them. Rt EMIS is an energy management system that captures information about energy being used by machines to sustain production. It tries to identify areas where savings could be reaped.

The solutions can be deployed to just about any machine, whether its new or old, and can be scaled up as more machines are added to a floor. Since the solution uses Azure as its backend, there’s a minimal footprint required onsite, and users can log in to read data through a web browser.

It’s the fact that small manufacturers can enjoy a lower total cost of ownership for the same services that large manufacturers are spending big capital on that won RtTech the innovation award, Flynn says.

“It was almost like validation, someone else recognizes your hard work,” he says. “When an independent group like Startup Canada gives you that recognition, it really feels worthwhile.”

Flynn also credits partnerships with Microsoft and being certified by the OPC Foundation as part of the company’s success in attracting customers like PHP and Michelin.

“Microsoft themselves have focused on the big data side… so the platform can provide you with the tools to identify patterns in your data,” he explains. “They have Cortana. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

The award should help get the Maritimes firm more exposure, he says. Just at the awards reception, he met two other manufacturers interested in RtTech.

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Former editorial director of IT World Canada. Current research director at Info-Tech

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