Delivering safe, secure solutions to Canada’s nuclear industry

Published January 25 2021
Noureen Naaz Alladin, Director of the Control Systems Practice
Noureen Naaz Alladin
Director of the Control Systems Practice
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Ranked 6th in the world in terms of production and consumption, Canada’s nuclear energy sector employs more than 70,000 people, both directly and indirectly, and generates more than $6 billion in annual revenues. As this hugely important sector continues to grow, Alithya Engineering professionals are applying their expertise to help pave the road to a safer, more secure, and more efficient future.

Alithya Engineering employs over 100 engineering professionals, primarily focused on the development and implementation of software, hardware, and cybersecurity solutions for nuclear clients. The unit’s core strength lies is the competency of its professionals, whose knowledge and expertise are derived from over 40 years of experience in the energy sector and the nuclear field. Within that field, Alithya addresses a $100 million market segment, delivering a variety of quality solutions and services including the customization of off-the-shelf products, and the implementation of fully automated and integrated systems.

As new technologies emerge, outdated legacy systems deployed in the industry become increasingly difficult to maintain. Alithya Engineering addresses that difficulty with services and solutions that lead to the implementation of modern, stable systems. That process begins with a thorough analysis of the overall requirements that a new system must address, and then Alithya’s professionals design systems that not only meet those requirements, but which also prepare them for the future.

In addition to expertise in the technical requirements of the nuclear industry, Alithya Engineering is also devoted to developing solutions oriented towards the safety of the sector’s valuable and skilled workforce. Minimizing exposure to potentially hazardous situations is a priority, and Alithya engineers focus on remote solutions that enable operators to function from the safety of a controlled environment. That critical achievement begins with solutions that facilitate the integration and automation of multiple systems, resulting in a unified system with functionality that is less dependent on human operators. For example, Alithya’s utilization of virtual reality and simulation has helped their clients to overcome on-site restrictions by leveraging technologies that allow them to closely study and train on systems remotely.

 

COVID-19 has certainly affected the day-to-day business of Alithya Engineering, which traditionally thrives on face-to-face client interaction. While the current reality has made client interfacing a challenge for some organizations, Alithya’s engineering team has drawn upon vast knowledge and expertise of applications and technologies to ensure the seamless continuation of its projects. The team has benefitted from an internal IT infrastructure that enables all Alithya employees to collaborate remotely with colleagues, clients, and vendors in consolidated teams, while accessing shared drives and a plethora of resources required for accomplishing a task or project.

Additionally, given the sensitive nature of the nuclear industry, the company’s IT experts have gone the extra mile to ensure that Alithya Engineering’s infrastructure is secured in compliance with nuclear industry cybersecurity standards. On the client side, Alithya, in combination with their industry partners, have adopted the use of secure applications that allow their employees to contribute remotely from home while continuing to protect sensitive materials.

The pandemic also opened the door for Alithya to contribute to the development of a portable ventilator. The BVM-HALO-Ventilator, developed by Promation, included custom code review, revision, and testing by Alithya Engineering. The pro bono work has inspired Alithya Engineering to become more active in developing solutions for the medical field.

Alithya’s professionals thrive in an environment of challenging projects and new technologies. As a company, Alithya encourages a culture of self-improvement and continuous learning, and strives to keep their engineers abreast of emerging technologies and trends. As the push towards digitalization accelerates, Alithya Engineering will continue to map out IT enhancements for its nuclear clients, exploring VR, AR, IIoT, and AI solutions that facilitate greater data exchange between the shop floor and the top floor.