Collaboration, Innovation and Growth: 2017 Year in Review

Lindsay Lane Blog

Another action packed year at NORCAT is drawing to a close. As we head into 2017’s final stretch, we’re looking back at the stories, events and highlights that made headlines at NORCAT over the last year.

There were a number of key infrastructure developments in 2017, including the funding announcement by both the provincial and federal government. This funding will support expansions and upgrades to the NORCAT Underground Centre, which will allow NORCAT to continue to accelerate the growth of innovative companies and drive economic growth for our region.

The year also saw the acquisition of Workplace Training and Safety First, a Thunder Bay based leader in skilled labour training and development programs in Northwestern Ontario. The acquisition enables NORCAT to expand our industry leading, world class programs, services and resources to new markets.

Furthering our commitment invested in technology and innovation, this year we launched the Safety Wallet app and an avatar based Mine Rescue Simulation Training Tool which was featured at the Canadian Mining Games. The global mining industry is undergoing a transformation, and NORCAT’s new technologies are designed to reduce injuries, save lives and enhance productivity in the workplace and beyond.

Some Highlights From 2017

NORCAT receives almost $1 M to expand the Underground Centre

On June 30, Sudbury MPP and Energy Minister Glenn Thibault, Sudbury MP Paul Lefebvre and Nickel Belt MP Marc Serre announced government support, on both the provincial and federal level, to develop new, innovative mining technologies and expand the NORCAT Underground Centre. Both the provincial Northern Ontario Heritage Fund (NOHFC) and the federal FedNor programs each pledged $488, 250 in funding to enhance the unique facility that supports the development of specialized products and services that are exported around the world. During the announcement, government representatives highlighted NORCAT’s impact on the Sudbury community, specifically in spearheading the acceleration of technology monetization and innovation adoption in the global mining industry.

NORCAT launches Mine Rescue Simulation Training Tool

The NORCAT Mine Rescue Simulation Training Tool – an engaging VR experience- was launched in February at the 2017 Canadian Mining Games in Toronto. The Mine Rescue Simulation enables safe and effective training for hazardous and dangerous situations using gaming controller technology, artificial intelligence, replicated biometric data and leading edge HD graphics, that allows students to see and experience risks while remaining absolutely safe. What started out as 3D tours of two major Sudbury mining operations for orientation purposes has grown into a training application that allows users to learn about real mine rescue missions. Users control an avatar and work with a virtual team to overcome real obstacles and challenges in an underground mine rescue situation. This type of experiential learning is invaluable in educating future mining industry workers and further validates that meaningful learning outcomes can be achieved through the use of avatar based simulation training.

NORCAT launches Safety Wallet

The NORCAT Safety Wallet was unveiled at the 2017 PDAC (Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada) Convention. This mobile app manages client training courses and records, distributes training content and enables on-site worker compliance tracking and management. The NORCAT Safety Wallet was designed to help workers, employers, and regulatory compliance stakeholders to better manage all facets of training and development in a single easy interface. Additionally, the Ontario Trillium Foundation provided NORCAT $75,000 to help fund the production and development of the app specifically to provide resources to the youth in order to jumpstart their careers in the mining industry. The app’s resource section provides users with an engaging tool that allows them to read about employment opportunities, and options for their career path. The app can be downloaded on both Android and Apple devices and additional features will be rolled out in the new year.

NORCAT and Deloitte partner to explore future of mining technology

At the start of 2017, NORCAT entered into a strategic partnership with Deloitte Canada to help grow the global mining industry’s understanding of the latest mining technology and innovation trends. Combining on-the-ground insight from emerging technologies installed at the NORCAT Underground Centre with market knowledge from Deloitte’s global mining industry team, the two organizations are working together to develop and distribute quarterly briefings highlighting, discussing and showcasing emerging technologies and innovations that are poised to transform of the global mining industry. The first report focused on the imperative of developing a user centric approach towards innovation, and best practices for implementing Human-Centred Design– a methodology that accelerates product development and promotes faster adoption of innovative solutions.

NORCAT acquires Workplace Training and Safety First

In the Fall of 2017, NORCAT announced the acquisition of Workplace Training and Safety First– a Thunder Bay based leader in training and development services for the mining, construction and forestry sectors in Northwestern Ontario. Over the past five years NORCAT has seen significant growth in the priority sectors of mining, construction, forestry and oil/gas, in both international and domestic markets. The acquisition of Workplace Training and Safety North demonstrates our commitment to expanding both our reach and impact and ensuring all workers have the right skills and confidence to be both productive and safe in the workplace.

Things are always busy at NORCAT and the past year proved to be no exception. We hosted many amazing and successful events, made several exciting announcements and saw our organization continue to grow across industries and across the globe. These highlights are just a small portion of the successes of 2017. Many more can be found on the NORCAT website, and on our blog. Stay tuned to see what 2018 has in store!