After eight years working as a consultant on pipeline integrity and risk assessments, Daryl Bandstra and four partners got the idea to start their own firm.
“We were inspired by the startup culture of Silicon Valley and wanted to take an entrepreneurial approach in bringing new technologies to the pipeline industry,” says Bandstra, 31.
Launching Integral Engineering in spring 2018 allowed the group to tackle interesting technical challenges of their own choosing.
As a mechanical engineer, it’s an ideal situation for Bandstra, combining his training in math and applied science with technology development.
His co-founders — Jason Skow, Thomas Dessein, Brent Ayton and Alex Fraser — are all oil and gas engineers with varied data and software skills.
One of projects Integral is working on is probabilistic defect simulations for pipelines that utilize cloud technology. Current simulations are typically run on desktop computers. This can take days or even weeks.
“Now you can do that through a Google or Amazon cloud service that’s run on 10,000 computers and get your results back in minutes. It’s really a game changer because, of course, people are trying to make decisions and they can’t wait weeks to find out what something means,” he says.
Integral started offering cloud-based simulations last summer and is currently also advancing another area of innovation by making engineering reports more interactive and accessible than conventional documents like PDFs and spreadsheets.
“With results becoming so detailed, it can be difficult to engage with reports that are hundreds of pages long,” Bandstra says. “A better way of delivering information is through a dashboard.”
As an interactive interface, a dashboard allows people to click around reams of information. Integral’s innovation doesn’t necessarily aim to replace reports but to provide a more interactive and interesting format for consuming information, especially as people have less time to slog through lengthy reports.
Bandstra says what drew him to working in the pipeline field as an engineer was the technical challenge. “But what’s kept me engaged in this industry is the opportunity I’ve had through YPAC [Young Pipeliners Association of Canada] to be involved in many of the industry’s most important initiatives,” he says.
As Bandstra continues his career trajectory, he sees himself getting more involved in the main initiatives of the pipeline industry and gradually shifting from the peripheries, as a young professional, to the centre of the industry in leadership capacities.