Selkirk SME Advisory Services & Projects

The Selkirk-SME Adoption of Digital Technologies (ADT) Pilot Project provided Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) with direct support, technical training business, marketing and technical advisory services aimed helping businesses increase their productivity. We also supported SME projects with several businesses in the adoption of digital technology to provide them with a competitive edge moving forward.

 

SME Advisory Services

Blue Mountain Lodge

Blue Mountain Lodge is a business based in Christina Lake BC. They provide both cabins and campsites. As new owners of this business that has been in Christina Lake for several years, they struggled with their online identity. Not only was there already a pre-existing Trip Advisor page More

dedicated to the business that referred to the previous owners, they had a difficult time standing out on the internet where there are several other lodges that go by that name across Canada and the United States.  Lacking in the technological skills required to face these challenges; our team met with them and advised them on how to create their own unique online identity with digital marketing tools. We were also able to assist with some technical issues they faced with their professional email services.

The business owners our team met with were very pleased with our advisory services. They stated that it would help them in the future with their productivity levels, since they will save valuable time that would have been spent dealing with technical issues they were unsure how to fix. They also stated that they felt relief at having a technician show them how to fix their digital identity, as they did not have any idea of where to start or how to go about it. This helped them by enabling them to take the steps necessary to fix these issues.

DBS Energy Services

DBS Energy services is an engineering consulting company based in Trail, BC that provides services to the power utility industry. They had a paper field data collection system that they were not satisfied with. Our team advised them on some possible alternatives.More

This included a document that explored some different options on how to move forward with this project and get results that will address the needs of DBS. It included research data and instruction on ArcPad Form customization as well as information on some other possible product solutions including ‘GIS Cloud Mobile Data collection’ and ‘PDF Expert 5’. Our team provided them with a road map on how to proceed with solving their problems.  Providing some different options helped DBS energy services realize what options were available to them with the budget they have available.

Global Fruit

Global Fruit is a Creston BC based enterprise, specializing in supplying Okanagan and Creston Valley cherries and fruits to countries around the world. Global Fruit is currently employing a Microsoft Access database.More

This database is fully operational but has many features that do not work properly; as well there are many tasks that must be performed manually, over and over because they have not been built into the current database.  Our team met with Global Fruit to help them critically analyze their database needs. We were able to advise them of possible solutions to their database problem.  Global fruit realized before we met that their database was not meeting their needs, but was unsure of what the steps needed to be taken to move forward. We were able to advise them of what actions should be taken, and were able to refer them to local professionals so they could decide if they wanted to move forward.

King Creek Farms

King Creek Farms is a bee-keeping business based in Creston, BC. They had a keen interest in doing some geospatial analysis to aid in their apiary management. The owners had GIS training but were unable to afford the expensive software they were trained on.More

  Our team met with them to discuss other options that were available with open source software. We were able to refer them to a free application defined specifically for apiary management. The business owners can now perform the advanced types of analysis they had wanted to, which will help them make more informed business decisions to improve productivity.

XL Quality

XL Quality is a welding and fabrication shop based in Trail, BC. Our team met with them and provided advisory services on technological tools available that could be used to increase efficiency in their shop.More

This advisory service was based around the concepts of switching to an easier record keeping solution. We advised them on the benefits of a relational database management system, as well as the costs associated with such a system and helped them see what options were available. They were interested in what types of things would be possible in the future.  Being able to provide advisory services on possible technological solutions they could adopt helped them decide what direction to take their record keeping needs in. Before we supplied some objective guidance, they were unsure of what options were available or even where to begin looking. We are also providing them with information on how to confirm that their D-Link backup system is working, Database Synchronization and Database manual.

 

SME Projects

Christina Lake Recreational Amenities and Tourist Visitation Mapping Project (GIS)

The objective of the project was to improve the productivity of businesses in Christina Lake by boosting their usage of digital technologies. The challenge for Christina Lake businesses is it is very difficult to attract new residents to the area and tourists during the off seasons. The project had two components:More

  1. Geographical Information System Support, and
  2. Introduction to Digital Technologies for SMEs.

The outcomes of the first component included: a) the creation of a SMEs and Recreational Amenities interactive web map of the community, b) the creation of a map that illustrates where tourists visit from to help identify key target areas for marketing, and c) the provision of ADT training to SMEs based on identified needs. The key issues that this component addressed included the low tourist activity during shoulder seasons and the vast number of technological needs within businesses. The purpose of the second component was to provide SMEs with e-marketing techniques and strategies that can help be competitive in today’s business environment including the fundamentals of TripAdvisor and Facebook. The key issues that this component addressed included a lack of online marketing within the community, need for e-commerce and the necessity of fundamental social media use for businesses. The result was an increased awareness on how online digital technologies can improve productivity.

Creston Microclimate and Agricultural Land Use Planning Project (GIS)

The objective of this project was to enable increased productivity of four agricultural businesses by boosting the use and application of digital technologies. In Creston a significant amount of the businesses are agriculturally based.More

  Being able to properly set land management zones is important for an agricultural business owner because it allows them to utilize their resources to the best of their ability. With a land analysis done, business owners are now able to use that information to make better decisions about their land use. Having information about land health can influence decisions on fertilizer application rates, crop use, and watering rates.  Being able to make these decisions more soundly improves a business’s production levels, as well as lowers their production costs.

Using remote sensing technology, the Selkirk Geospatial Research Centre provided land analysis on the SME’s locations to determine overall health of vegetation, and determine if there are any key areas where land use could be studied further.  This project resulted in recommendations for land management based on findings and also a case study that will inform the college’s knowledge base.

D-Pace 3-D Printing Project

D-Pace, Inc. is a worldwide provider of state of the art engineering products and services for the particle accelerator industry. In Nelson since 1995,More

D-Pace continues to grow in part due to its research and licensing partnership with TRIUMF, one of the world’s leading subatomic physics laboratories.   Motivated by D-Pace’s success in commercializing TRIUMF technology and creating a Canadian company that is successful in the world market, TRIUMF entered into partnership with Selkirk College to find ways to support these activities. Selkirk College was the first college in Canada to work with TRUIMF through a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2010.

The objective of this ADT project was to research different methods of digital fabrication for the production of packaging materials for extremely delicate precision technology.  During the process the team tested 3-D printing and Laser Cutting.  The team printed 3-D objects in different plastics while testing the material shrinkage rate due to cooling, material strength and durability.  ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) successfully met the target requirements. Material Shrinkage rate was 3% PLA (Polylactic Acid) successfully met the target requirements. Material Shrinkage rate was 2% Nylon- (613 Taulman Nylon) did not meet the target requirements due to difficulties in printing with this experimental material, though this plastic has properties that will make it a highly sought after material to print with in the future.

The team also tested laser cut acrylic as a possible solution. This method produced the best results, although future projects may require a laser cutting with a more powerful laser. Laser cut acrylic gave us exacting tolerances for the product and allowed us to add the company logo, product serial numbers and product information.

GIS-Based Decision-making Tool for Forestry Companies Project

In the Kootenay Boundary region there is a set of objectives for forest land management that must be met by forest managers. One of the high priority management objectives is to maintain ungulate winter range (UWR). This involves complex multiple More

objective planning that requires strong technical knowledge of Geographical Information Systems (GIS).  Another obstacle in meeting these objectives is the accuracy of the base information available. There are multiple inputs that must be updated on a regular basis to ensure accuracy, specifically in regards to finding resultants. If an application intended for non-GIS personal were available for forest managers that could easily be used, it would allow the forest managers to meet these objectives. However, this type of application is not readily available for small forest managers due to the costs associated with it.

In 2005 the Selkirk Geospatial Research Center (SGRC) developed the Higher Level Planning Objectives Reporting Suite (HLPORS) in collaboration with the British Columbia Forest Service. This tool has proven itself to be very valuable to the forestry industry, and has been used by large forest license owners to meet objectives since its inception. The BC government and various government organizations have also recognized its value to the forestry sector and have given their support to the HLPORS. Although the tool is currently being used by large scale forest license managers, it would be an ideal solution for small and medium sized forest managers as well.

The cost to develop, maintain, and update this tool is substantial, including licensing from the database company (Oracle) costing $8000/year. Funding has traditionally come from the BC government to cover these costs. In 2011 this was cancelled, causing the SGRC to move the HLPORS to an open source database, PostgreSQL (AKA ‘Postgres’).  This move required additional development, while providing opportunities to enhance the interface and workflow of the tool making it even more efficient for smaller forest licensees.

This project involved further development of the HLPORS in collaboration with True North Forest Consultancy Ltd., on the open source platform.  This tool has been customized for use by forestry businesses who work with small and medium forest licensees.  While this project involved working directly with True North Forestry Consulting Ltd., an additional 39 licensees could benefit from free ongoing access to this GIS based decision-making tool.

This project resulted in the following productivity improvements and benefits:

  1. Informed decision-making: Being able to meet the land management objectives as set forth by the Kootenay Boundary.
  2. Competitiveness: The ability to be more competitive with larger forestry companies that have access to this technology.
  3. Consistency: Consistent knowledge of the land base. If all different forest managers are using different reporting methods, that information is not readily available for managers to make informed and accurate land management decisions.

Global Fruit Database Development Project

The objective of the database project was to help Global Fruit improve their efficiency by finding solutions to their current Access Database deficiencies. The project was broken down into two components and included a More

combination of Access database adjustments and advisory services. The first component involved the identification of problems and deficiencies, deciding which can be easily solved and to make those adjustments where possible. The advisory component included the development of a detailed plan to address and find solutions to the larger problems.

Global Fruit is a Creston BC based enterprise, specializing in supplying Okanagan and Creston Valley cherries and fruits to countries around the world. They are highly committed to the quality and freshness of the products they supply and are affiliated with food quality groups like Global GAP, Canadian Produce Marketing Association and the Okanagan Kootenay Cherry Growers Association. Global Fruit is currently employing a Microsoft Access database to track all aspects of the business, including cherry variety and size, orchards, packing houses, shippers, customers and much more. This database is fully operational but has many features that do not work properly; as well there are many tasks that must be performed manually, over and over because they have not been built into the current database.

Global Fruit has identified their problems in the form of a wish list for the database ranging from small faults in the system to new reports and additional functionality. These requests required a detailed exploration of the database, resulting in some relatively simple fixes alongside the identification of a number of future complex changes and additions. Some of the smaller issues related to formatting and adjustments being made to their current forms. A number of changes were made to their existing database including the correction of a number of problems and the addition of some extra functionality.  The more complex problems such as database restructuring and additional report generation, is where the advisory component came in, as they required considerable research and planning and future development outside the parameters of the Selkirk College ADT project.  A final research report was presented to this company including a summary of database solutions and recommendations for future changes.

This project resulted in the following productivity improvements and benefits:

  1. Reduction of automatable work: Once the changes were made to the Access database it was able to better manage the digital collections by automating more of the common tasks that are currently being done manually.
  2. Increase in decision making and productivity: The improved database and additional reports allow Global Fruit to see more of the trends in their business, which allows for better decision making. The reduction of the automatable tasks also increases business productivity, as less time was wasted on manual tasks.
  3. Added long-term value: Once the database is functioning efficiently and accurately, at maximum capability, it will become a very useful tool and improve many aspects of the business. In the future, Global Fruit will not have to waste time worrying about the limitations of the database and be able to focus on increasing business.

Kootenay Meadows Product Availability Mapping Project (GIS)

The objective of this project was to provide Kootenay Meadows with an interactive web product availability map that will show where there products can be purchased, and then train them on how to use and update this map.More

  Although Kootenay Meadows has an extensive list of distributors, the information they had available of where there products are sold was difficult to use, non-intuitive, and not easily updateable.

Kootenay Meadows is a business based in Erikson, BC that raises their own cattle and produces organic specialty dairy products. They are currently in the process of rebranding their company and were previously known as Alpine Cheese. They are well established and sell their products at grocery stores and specialty shops around the country. However, with limited time and budget they were unable to market the wide availability of their product.

This project resulted in the following productivity improvements and benefits:

  1. Increase product awareness: With the map showing where and when their products are available, potential customers will have an easier time finding the product and be more likely to purchase it.
  2. Increase in brand awareness: Showing the wide number of distributers of this company’s product helps increase the legitimacy and reputation of the brand.
  3. Long term value: Replacing their old system with the map will increase ease of use. With the map, they can easily and quickly update information about where their product is sold.

Valhalla Technologies 3-D Printing Project

Valhalla Technologies, a two-person start-up that manufactures infrared lenses for military reconnaissance and planetary studies found a time- and money-saving manufacturing solution through Selkirk College’s 3D printing. The objective of this project was More

to research the possibilities of utilizing 3-D printed objects in the manufacturing of germanium lenses for the infra-red camera market and upon successful testing, recommend a 3-D printer. During this project the team also created an application using OpenSCAD, software for creating solid 3D CAD models. This software application allowed us to create multiple 3-D CAD models with slightly different dimensions quickly.

During the process the project team tested two specific types of 3-D printed plastic:

  • ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)
  • PLA (Polylactic Acid) successfully met the target requirements. Material Shrinkage rate was 2%

Both materials successfully met the target requirements. This allowed us a greater level of flexibility when recommending a 3-D printer. Further testing of emerging 3-D printed materials with higher tolerances will be explored in the future.

Webbers Mountainside Cherries Product Availability Mapping Project (GIS)

The objective of this project was to provide Webber’s Mountainside Cherries with an interactive web Product Availability Map (PAM) that shows where there products can be purchased,More

and then train them on how to use and update this map.  Currently the business has no publicly available information of where their product is available for purchase.

Webbers Mountainside Cherries is a business based in Wynndel, BC that grows Cherries to sell to grocery stores and at farmers markets. They also use the cherries they grow to make natural granola bars and hand dipped chocolates. The challenge is that they have no marketing budget and have difficulty getting awareness of their products out.

This project resulted in the following improvements and benefits:

  1. Increase product awareness: With the map showing where and when their products are available, potential customers will have an easier time finding the product and be more likely to purchase it.
  2. Increase in brand awareness: Showing the wide number of distributers of this company’s product helps increase the legitimacy and reputation of the brand.
  3. Added digital marketing control: With the training provided as part of this project, the business has learned about some of the free online marketing tools available and is now able to use them to their benefit.

XL Quality Database Development Project

The objective of the XL Quality Database project was to introduce a stand-alone Access relational database system and provide Access database training to 2-3 staff members. The purpose is to increase productivity and decrease errors More

and losses based on incomplete work orders. XL Quality currently has Microsoft Office Access 2007 installed and is willing to upgrade to the more recent version of Access 2013. The Selkirk team worked with XL Quality to create a fully functional relational Access database that allows the company to track work orders, customers and Mill Certs. Staff also received one-on-one training on basic Microsoft Access and a related database user manual was produced.

XL Quality is a comprehensive welding and fabrication company based out of Trail BC, serving small and large customers. They specialize in retail metal sales, painting and blasting, fabrication and welding and general and custom machining. They are regularly requested by customers to provide proof of steel quality and manufacturing standards in form of certification called a Mill Cert.  Their current procedures include the use of a Steel Fabrication Software called ‘Fabtrol’ for estimates and purchasing, ‘Simply Accounting’ for invoices and a paper work order system to keep track of jobs and customer information.

It was identified that XL Quality was having problems with their current paper work order system and procedures. They were finding that the paper system was cumbersome because staff didn’t have all the information needed (estimates, materials, dates, drawings, costs, mill certs, customer info.) for each job together in one file. It was very difficult and time consuming to look up previous customers and historical work orders, for example, when customers request a repeated service. They are also found that there were some detachment between inventory and Mill Certs and were experiencing losses if services/details were not being recorded properly by employees.

This project resulted in the following productivity improvements and benefits:

  1. Decrease of financial loss: Using Microsoft Access to collect job details and services as they happen resulted in less loss caused by written notes not being tracked and recorded properly. There was also less time/wages wasted searching for historical paper work orders, Mill Certs and customers.
  2. Reduction automatable work: Microsoft Access manages the digital collections by automating common tasks, searching and harvesting information from other tables.
  3. Added long-term financial value: Introduction of this database increased its value overtime as the data storage is built up and its use by management and staff increases. It allows for the possibility of increased complexity as needed and desired, such as the use of tablets.
  4. Increase decision making and productivity: The new database allows XL Quality to quickly see trends in sales and services which will allow for better decision making. Currently, their record keeping system is complicated, time consuming and does not show trends. With the new database and training, they will be able increase their productivity and accuracy in estimating/quoting jobs, ordering materials and other everyday activities.