Canadian Electrical Industry News Week

Innovative Automation

Automation companies are drivers of innovation, and have penetrated near every industry and geographic region across Canada, be it big cities or small towns. And they continue to grow in terms of the technological advancements they drive and the within the communities they support. In Barrie, Ontario Innovative Automation represents this perfectly. As an automation expert they are pushing the boundaries of technology while maintaining a family and community oriented philosophy both in the shop and the wider community. EIN was given the opportunity to ask Steve Loftus, President and co-founder of Innovative Automation, about himself, the company and what continues to drive its success.

  1. Tell us a little about yourself?

I have always worked in the manufacturing sector, even as far back as High School and College working in a Welding Fabrication Shop. After college I worked for in the tire industry serving an apprenticeship as an Electrician. After I joined an automation company and worked there for 5 years setting up and managing their controls group. At the time of hiring I was the department manager and grew the department to 20 people before leaving to co-found Innovative. One of my key roles as President is to set the vision for Innovative Automation. I am passionate about learning and encouraging young people to be the best they can be, so I encourage my employees to grow, both at work and in the community.  I am a hands-on leader, and try to lead by example. 

  1. What is the history of Innovative Automation and what you see in the near future for the company?

Innovative Automation was founded in 1989, by founding partners Jim Carnegie, Paul Tyndall and Steve Loftus. Jim and Paul have since retired and I continue to lead the company as President with new partners Mike Lalonde and Matt Setterington. Innovative has always been proud to be a quality supplier of custom machines, with our focus squarely on the total cost of ownership and not the purchase price. This direction has allowed Innovative to supply quality solutions, that may require a slightly larger initial investment, but through the life of the machine cost less to operate based in improved uptime and reduced repair costs. Our value proposition is our ability to be flexible and respond to customer needs.  We can perform a $50,000 retrofit for a customer, or we can design, build and install a $5 million high tech automation system.  We work closely with our customers to build equipment that captures both their current and future needs, while keeping the total cost of ownership low.  We build our business by building long-lasting relationships. Innovative will continue with the rapid growth from the last 2 years as we prepare to move to our next chapter at a new 63,000 square foot state of the art facility at 625 Welham Road in Barrie.  This move will be complete by February 2018.

  1. Tell us a little about your team?

The Innovative team has grown from 53 people in 2016 to our present 110 with an additional 29 people being hired to support our continued growth at our new location. We continue to grow with the addition of highly educated and motivated young workers. Over 40% of our staff is under the age of 30. This youth movement has brought a renewed energy to Innovative that will lead it in coming years.

  1. What industry sectors does your company typically work in?

Innovative continues to work primarily in the automotive sector, but has recently made major inroads in the medical device sectors. (You can find the full extent of their applications here)

  1. Are you primarily servicing the Canadian market? Or do you find there is growing demand for projects to be undertaken taken here but shipped globally? Or vice versa, has the local market changed to demand more of your work stay within the country?  

Our vision is to be the first-choice provider of automation solutions to global leaders in manufacturing. Innovative continues to supply primarily countries within the NAFTA agreement, but as a company there is a forward focus on becoming a global supplier for our customers. Throughout 2017 Innovative worked with BDC to develop an international business development plan.  Along with our plan for expansion to Europe, we will be focusing increased attention on our existing market in Mexico, which is projected to be the world’s fourth largest producer of luxury vehicles by 2020, due largely to the high standard and competitiveness of Mexican labour. We are proactively seeking partners globally to assist in installation, commissioning and service at a local level around the world. As step 1 to our international development plan, I just returned from a trip to Germany, where we met with several customers to discuss strategies for a global platform.

  1. How do you stay ahead of the rapidly advancing technology surrounding integration (Industry 4.0, IoT, IIoT, PoE…)? (ie. New hires of individuals with advance training and experience, continued training for existing employees?)

Innovative has always been a company that will lead with technology. We have a vision for the future that involves investing in employees and continuously improving.  Employees are encouraged to be at the top of the accountability ladder “Making it happen”.  Our goal is to coach employees to put the puzzle together when some of the pieces are missing. We build automated equipment—that means we must be creative every day. We need fresh ideas and a thorough understanding of new technology, risks and hazards.  We are focused on continued training efforts to ensure we are offering a cost-effective solution in the latest technologies. Innovative has always encouraged our team to “think outside the box” to generate new cost-effective methods to apply the latest technologies. We also believe in “growing our own” employees, developing the skills of our young workers to where they need to be, instead of waiting for someone else to supply trained skilled labour. New in 2018—Innovative will drive annual supplier technology updates, starting in February by inviting our suppliers to showcase their technology together at our open house. 

  1. Of the industry sectors you service which do you see having the greatest shift or advancements in the near future?

All technologies involving vehicle avoidance system will see the greatest advancements. This is a rapidly growing sector that will continue to see application of the greatest new technologies. 

  1. You mentioned Innovative will soon be moving, what has driven this relocation? 

Our rapid growth over the past 2 years as meant the addition of a second location. Though this was a way to handle the rapid growth, it has led to some inefficiencies with we will address once we are all in one location. The new location will allow for the projected growth of the next 3 to 5 years.

  1. Could we have a little detail on the direction of your recent projects?

As Innovative continues to grow so do the size of projects. Over the past 2 years we have several times taken on our largest projects to date. This is a trend that continues to repeat itself. We continue to work with our customers to develop processes to apply new technologies, in the area of the application of more energy efficient systems and more reliable vehicle sensing systems.

  1. What else makes Innovative Automation unique?

This answer is two-fold.

  1. A) Community Involvement sets us apart, Innovative Automation is a huge supporter of the community we both work and live in.  We raise over $40,000 annually for United Way through payroll deductions and fun events, such as our famous Pie in the Face contest—which nets $20,000 in donations in just one hour, thanks to the generous support of our local suppliers. We host 10 charity BBQs each summer, where employees get together by department and pick a charity close to their heart to support. We also encourage employee participation in Big Brothers/Big Sisters events for bowling and curling every year, with Innovative acting as a sponsor for each event as well.  Our biggest level of support, however, is through our partnership with Georgian College in hiring and training students.  We believe strongly in growing our own Innovators, and it starts at the college level (most recently, we’ve started hiring at the high school level, and supporting these students through college/university co-ops)
  2. B) Our culture also sets us apart. In Feb 2016 Innovative took a survey of employees and asked everyone to describe our culture.  What does it mean to work at Innovative? Armed with over 100 responses, we sat down as a management group and put it all together in the form of a new vision statement, mission statement and corporate social responsibility statement.   These statements form an integral part of our new website. In Feb 2017 we circled back and reviewed these new statements with all employees, including those who were part of the survey last year, and asked if the statements reflected a true picture of life at Innovative.  The result was a resounding yes.  The best part of our culture is our ability to keep that family feeling, despite the challenges of now having 2 plants and over 110 employees. Families help each other and keep each other safe. We strive to know everyone personally. Barrie, and Simcoe County, still has that small-town feeling. 

Innovative Automation is a clear example of the advancement that technology has delivered for those that are ready and willing to rise to the challenge. The community driven focus and effort to drive young individuals into a growing employment sector sets Innovative Automation apart. As they continue to expand we look forward to watching just how innovative their young workforce will be for the future of the industry and the community within which they reside.

You can find Innovative Automation's Career page HERE

You can find Innovative Automation's Applicaiton page HERE

Title: Ready, Set, Scale: How to Grow Your Field Service Business

SimProThrough many trials and tribulations, you’ve grown your business to where it is today. It’s taken blood, sweat, tears, long hours and sacrifice. But, it’s all been worth it to have something which you can call your own. It’s even more worth it when you can finally take that next step to grow your business even further and expand your service, project and maintenance work.

That moment when your hard work has finally paid off and you’re able to take your field service business to the next level. But, then it hits you - you’re not sure how to take those next steps or what you might need to make sure you don’t fail.

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Become a Wiser Approved Installer


Get access to exclusive benefits, product discounts and resources that will help you drive more business, and lower energy bills for your clients.









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Switch to Smart, Switch to Easy, Switch to Beautiful

Schneider Connected LivingScrewless wall plates. Smart Outlets. Square D™ Switches and Receptacles are raising the bar on aesthetics, ease of installation, remote lighting control and connectivity.








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Liteline Continues Canadian Investment

EIN BC Liteline 400Adding continued investment in Canada to its core foundation of innovative Design, installation efficiency, and personal customer service, Liteline has just announced the opening of its 12,729 square foot Showroom and Lighting Distribution Center in Langley BC.

The new Liteline Facility is located at 26550 Gloucester Way, Unit A110 and will house the new Liteline Distribution Center along with a product showroom. Stocking our 2-day QuickShip items, this new facility will service B.C. to Saskatchewan, as well as the Pacific Northwest and California in the United States allowing product to be delivered faster.

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Changing Scene

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Vivi WhiteVivi White has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) by the Honourable Ross Romano, Minister of Government and Consumer Services.

“As Chair, I am pleased that the Ontario Government recently appointed Vivi White to the Board,” said Annette Bergeron. “The Electrical Safety Authority’s efforts over the years have greatly improved the safety of the people of Ontario. It’s an important mandate and requires a strong, talented and diverse board as we transform into a modern regulator.”


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Omnicable joins ETIMETIM North America announced that OmniCable has joined the product classification standards organization. Headquartered in West Chester, PA, OmniCable has 24 locations throughout North America, and also owns Houston Wire & Cable (HWC). The company partners with many electrical manufacturers and only sells to distributors.

According to John Dean, Director of Marketing & E-Commerce, OmniCable/HWC, “The wire and cable industry is often called commodities, but there are very distinct features and attributes for the different products our manufacturers produce. 

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Canadian Electrical Contractor Discussion Group: Can You Count the Deficiencies?

EIN CECD 400Have you ever been called to fix the work of a 'handyman'?

"Was supposedly done by a"certified ' electrician....told the homeowner that he got a $266 record at TSBC. Can you count the deficiencies?"

"There is a second panel change in the triplex also.......even more deficiencies. Think the guy was a glorified handyman. Ones not obvious: 240 BB heat hooked up 120....drier on 2p20....range on 2p50....water heater fed with 2c14 Bx on 2p15."

Go HERE to join the discussion



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FlukeElectrical distribution problems are not always immediately identified as issues with power quality. An example of this is a thermal-magnetic circuit breaker. When it trips, the indication is generally a short circuit, ground fault, or overload. At times this can be put down to an old breaker that needs replacing.

However, it’s important to investigate the types of loads on the system and monitor harmonics for a potential disturbance. This article explores common issues with power quality and how to troubleshoot those issues.



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EIN Romex 12 2 Recall 400This recall involves a yellow electrical wire, 12/2 NMD90 75M Romex SIMpull cable, sold by the spool. Products were also sold at Home Depot designated as article 108196.  Only cables with a time stamp between 12:41 and 18:02 are affected by this recall. 

The recalled product contains a neutral wire that is a smaller 14-gauge wire, contrary to the stamp on the wire identifying both the neutral and “hot” wires as 12-gauge (i.e., "12/2"). 

The recalled product contains a 14-gauge neutral wire instead of 12-gauge (as labelled), thus it may not perform as expected in 12-gauge applications, resulting in a risk of those applications having impaired performance and/or compliance with safety codes or standards.

Go HERE for more information


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Greenlee Mobile Bending Table for 881 Series Hydraulic BendersGreenlee is bringing secure and easy-to-transport conduit bending capabilities to jobsites with the introduction of its Mobile Bending Table for 881 Series Hydraulic Benders. The new product combines the latest in anti-theft protection with enhanced mobility, easy set-up and quick teardown.

“Electricians are constantly trying to do work more efficiently. Anytime we can shave time off a job, it’s a win – and this product delivers that with easier set-up and portability. At the same time, we know that protecting equipment from theft is an issue for a lot of tradespeople. The new Greenlee Mobile Bending Table for the 881 Series Hydraulic Benders is our latest solution to help professionals safeguard their investments and increase productivity,” 

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Klein Tools Upgraded Testing KitKlein Tools introduces the Premium Electrical Test Kit.

Premium Electrical Test Kit (Cat. No. 69355)

  • Refreshed kit that features three new product releases geared towards a variety of electrical testing applications.
  • Kit includes instructions and all required batteries.

Manual-Ranging Digital Multimeter with Right-Angle Test Leads (Cat. No. MM320 – Exclusive to Cat. No. 69355 and Cat. No. MM320KIT)

  • Measures up to 600V AC/DC voltages, 10A DC current and 2-ohm resistance
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Brady M211Design, preview and print – all from your phone. Simple and intuitive, the M211 Label Printer is built for the job site, running all day on a full charge while resisting drops, shocks and crushes.

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Brent NeillyBy Blake Marchand

Brent Neilly is the Group Marketing Manager with Milwaukee, he has a background in business communications with a B.A. from Brock University, as well as experience working in the construction industry.

“When I joined TTI (Milwaukee’s parent company) it was kind of a perfect match, I had some marketing knowledge from my business degree and some industry experience from working in the trades.” Neilly gained his experience covering an area from Orillia to Timmins, Ontario when he first joined the company as a Field Sales Rep, as well as on their Job Site Core Trade Specialists in the GTA where he found his niche working with utility clients. 

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Copper $US Dollar price per pound

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