Micro Engineering Tech Inc.

2015 Applied Technology,  Winner

Precision engineering protects infrastructure

When a new construction project starts in a large urban centre, a massive amount of excavation work is completed beneath the surface. Deep excavation is often completed with heavy machinery and the vibrations can cause a disturbance in nearby structures.

Have you ever wondered who’s looking out for these structures? Micro Engineering Tech Inc. is a Calgary based company, and co-founder and Vice President, Dr. Mohamed Elhabiby, says his company specializes in protecting infrastructure from damages by movements below ground.

“We do a lot of structure health monitoring using laser scanners for construction projects, and more specifically related to light rail transit (LRT) track monitoring,” Dr. Elhabiby says.

The City of Calgary enlisted Dr. Elhabiby and his team to give Calgary Transit a stream of information to prevent the transit system from any damages during long construction projects. Every time a rumble occurs beneath the surface, the chances of lasting damage increases.

“Our work focuses on large downtown construction projects with very deep excavation and heavy construction activities,” Dr. Elhabiby says. “Some of these projects are in congested areas and really close to the LRT tracks, so we monitor [the infrastructure] with very high precision to make sure we can give early warning and alerts to all the stakeholders.”

Working cooperatively to drive innovation

The system, developed by Dr. Elhabiby, integrates land survey and geotechnical systems and can sense movement in structures ranging from two millimeters to one centimetre. Because the movement is so finite, the applications for the technology are endless.

“We started doing work as consultants, and that is when we realized this technology had to be developed and go to the next level of innovation,” Dr. Elhabiby says. “We formed Micro Engineering Tech Inc. in 2010 and we made partners that believe in our identity, which is precision engineering.”

Dr. Elhabiby says his technology is innovative not only because it meets a previously unmet demand, but also because it is client centred to minimize down time.

“The biggest innovation to me is we aren’t interrupting the work,” Dr. Elhabiby says. “Our team tries to work without interrupting our clients, so sometimes you’ll see us working at midnight or 2:00 a.m., keeping in mind the operation of our clients.”

Dr. Elhabiby says staying innovative and maintaining a strong vision is important, and safety is an important motivator.

Creating a safer environment

Dr. Elhabiby says there are many stakeholders involved in a downtown construction project, with the general public utilizing the c-trains, people in office towers surrounding the construction sites and the construction crew on site requiring different types of protection.

“Our work is important because the most important thing to development and construction is safety,” Dr. Elhabiby says. “Imagine when you’re doing a project and there’s tens of thousands of people taking the LRT every day. We want to make sure everybody using facilities nearby is safe.”

It’s also important to consider the economy as something that needs protection, because downtime can severely hurt investors and businesses in the area. Dr. Elhabiby says his team maintains strong values when working on a project that greatly impacts the surrounding community.

Dr. Elhabiby says his team’s work gives the project leaders the ability to create stricter policies, because the technology holds engineering to a higher degree of accuracy. The data collected by his team can be analyzed quickly and any issues can be quickly remedied.

The technology holds the potential to improve safety policies around the world, because it can provide a level of insurance that was previously impossible in projects such as nuclear plants and dams.