After winning three innovation awards in 2021 for its leadership in Clean Technology & Smart Connected Equipment, Edmonton-based Thermal Intelligence is more determined than ever to educate the industry on the power of its BASECAMP technology. In addition to the awards, Thermal Intelligence recently concluded a 14-month, rigorous vetting process, and public review, allowing BASECAMP to become the first-ever piece of construction equipment to achieve the prestigious Green Seal’s Certification of Environmental Innovation.
The patented BASECAMP combines heat, power, and lights into one smart, connected piece of equipment allowing the tremendous waste heat from traditional light towers and generators to be preserved and optimized for temporary heat. The BASECAMP is essentially a mobile CHP (Combined Heat & Power system), thereby providing all the efficiencies typical of a large, permanent CHP system on a much smaller and mobile scale.
“The Green Seal certification is a universal symbol that a product meets the highest benchmark of health and environmental leadership,” says Brian Tiedemann, the company’s CEO and Co-Founder. “In a world that too often lives in a place of half-truths and fiction, the Green Seal certification gives every Thermal Intelligence customer the comfort of knowing they are being given third-party validated facts.” Using the same criteria as those for which it earned the Green Seal certification, the BASECAMP also qualifies for federal tax credits worth between $10,000 - $20,000 per unit, he notes.
As the cost of diesel fuel continues to soar and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) standards increase, finding ways to reduce field operating costs has become even more critical for companies looking to improve their bottom line. Thermal Intelligence knows its 3-in-1 BASECAMP can help companies do just that, says Tiedemann. The Smart 3-in-1 Heater, Generator and LED Light Tower can deliver not only significant fuel and operational savings, but massive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
BASECAMP Was Purpose-Built to Solve the Known Challenges of Traditional Equipment
In developing the unit, Tiedemann and his partner drew on their years of experience working with temporary heat on plant sites and winter construction projects, looking at how they could solve the numerous challenges with existing equipment, including high fuel consumption, issues of reliability, and equipment monitoring in sub-zero temperatures. The company’s patented ultra-efficient heat generation design effectively captures all waste heat produced, pairing a reciprocating engine with an electrical generation system. Combining state-of-the-art technology other industries have been using for years — like high-efficiency engines, low-maintenance heat generation, and wireless communication — brought their goal to life. The BASECAMP was purpose-built for Alberta oilsands operations and designed to solve the known challenges of traditional equipment failing to meet the needs of that demanding environment and climate.
“When deciding what equipment to utilize on a worksite most companies mistakenly chase the lowest possible rental rates while accepting massive operational inefficiencies. Unlike other rental categories, with temporary heat the rental price is as low as only 7% of the total rental cost, while fuel accounts for the remaining 93% of the monthly cost,” says Tiedemann.
Huge cost savings can be realized from the technology that burns the least fuel, he notes, and that’s where the Green Seal Certified BASECAMP’s 97% efficiency shines. The operational savings don’t stop there: 24/7 Remote Monitoring & Control, Smart Controls (resolving problems like potential wet-stacking autonomously), 2,500-hour service intervals, 48-hour fueling intervals, a built-in load bank for the generator, and No-Fire Watch all add up to significant operational savings, reliability, and simplification. Thermal Intelligence customers appreciate those attributes.
BASECAMP provides a “fantastic solution at a low cost,” says Steve Tremblay, a Site Supervisor for ARC Resources who has used it on his service rig for the past couple of winters. “One of the biggest benefits is how little fuel the BASECAMP uses, consuming a fraction of what our previous heaters burned while keeping both the wellhead and rig pump warm even in the coldest temperatures. The built-in light tower provides fantastic lease lighting, and the guys like to use the available power generation on the unit to plug in trucks and equipment,” he says.
Rescom, an Edmonton commercial builder, has quantified savings of $8,000/month as BASECAMP replaced the need for two Frost Fighters and a light tower/generator on-site, says Doug Shea, Construction Site Manager. “Couple that together with the available power we are using from the generator and the powerful LED light tower, and we have eliminated multiple pieces of equipment on our site. In addition, the heater only needs to be fueled every second day as opposed to fueling Frost Fighters multiple times per day. The BASECAMP saves our project money daily and puts more cash to the bottom line while allowing us to reduce our worksite GHG emissions!”
“The BASECAMP’s extended service interval of 2,500 hours drastically outperforms service intervals of 250-500 hours, compared to competing temporary heating equipment. I have run a fleet of heaters in the field and the difference between doing an oil change every 250 hours versus every 2,500 hours on a 100-unit fleet is a monumental difference in the operating environment,” says Tiedemann. “Not to mention the cost and downtime of changing the oil.” Tiedemann adds: “A buyer who is capable of seeing beyond just a rental rate is the one who ultimately provides the greatest value to their organization, both in terms of cost reduction and operational efficiency.”
Those are the buyers who will immediately see the home run the BASECAMP technology will deliver. The BASECAMP is measurably superior in a wide range of metrics with which traditional technology cannot compete. In comparing the cost of the 3-in-1 BASECAMP to its competitors, operators need to consider not only the cost of the separate lights and generators for a traditional worksite but the need for additional heaters to obtain an equivalent heating capacity. Depending on the exact equipment the BASECAMP is displacing, the fuel savings alone are $500–$700/day.
“With a fleet of 50 heaters, each winter month would deliver $1 million in savings and a seasonal reduction of over 10,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. That level of emissions reduction is equivalent to driving across Canada over 6,800 times. At a time when Canadians can’t afford to take their trailers camping because of soaring energy prices, this statistic should be hitting home with all energy and industrial construction companies” Tiedemann suggests.
BASECAMP Offers Dramatic Efficiencies While Mitigating the Risk of Cold Weather Work
With powerful air handling capabilities, the BASECAMP was built to recirculate air from within heated structures to avoid having to heat the cold outside air. When combined with a wireless temperature probe, to automatically monitor and control the internal temperatures of the structure, the BASECAMP offers dramatic efficiencies while mitigating the risk of working in winter conditions. “If you’re not recirculating, then you’re just creating massive positive air pressure and effectively pushing the heat out of your structure,” says Tiedemann.
“It blows my mind that people traditionally do not recirculate temporary heat,” he says. “That inability, or inexperience, can single-handedly result in double the fuel consumption.” While some other equipment in the market has a limited ability to recirculate air, “In our experience, almost nobody ever does it,” says Tiedemann. “We promote recirculation because we have a very powerful fan with 10 inches of static pressure. If you don’t have that power, then your equipment doesn’t have the ability to draw the air back to, and through, the unit.”
At a Canadian Natural Resources Limited site, the heat from the BASECAMP was not only clean, dry, and consistent but the equipment was easy to use, says Jason Eveleigh, an Assistant Foreman. “Everyone that used it this past winter loved it.” Jason also appreciated the convenience of a combined 3-in-1 unit as it “cut down on-site congestion compared to having to set up multiple heaters and a light tower/generator to complete the same job. As for the light tower, everyone commented on how much they appreciated the bright lights, I don’t think I have ever seen a standard light tower put out that much light,” said Eveleigh.
SmartTalk Wireless Technology is Key to Equipment Monitoring
What makes BASECAMP “wicked-smart,” says Tiedemann, is its proprietary SmartTalk wireless technology. The built-in IoT (Internet of Things) system monitors all operating metrics, all the time, alerting users of any potential problems on the horizon, or simply displaying a dashboard confirming that all units are functioning normally. If the engines throw a code, SmartTalk will notify the user via text or email with the most likely causes and the steps to resolve the issue. There is no more guessing, and no need to use expensive manpower to solve simple problems, Tiedemann says.
“Our goal is 100% uptime and SmartTalk is our single biggest investment to make sure users have the best possible data at all times,” he notes. “SmartTalk is so superior to any other system, we effectively have no competitor in our market.”
The reporting built directly into SmartTalk also gives fleet managers the ability to see uptime reports, track fuel usage, or provide pre-built diagnostic dashboards to anyone assisting with fleet maintenance. SmartTalk allows for ‘Intelligent Ops’, which enables a company to capture the greatest possible efficiencies on site. “It truly is the future and it’s an operational dream,” Tiedemann says.
This past winter was the third year of operations for the BASECAMP and by September 2022 over 150 units will be working in Canada and the U.S. “The BASECAMP has been tested at minus 50°C,” says Tiedemann. “We have units north of Fairbanks, Alaska, that ran all winter in seriously extreme temperatures, and our customers were very pleased with the performance.”
The units are manufactured in Western Canada with the programming, control panels, generator, and engine assembly specifically completed in Edmonton. The company also directly supports its units in the field and has sent some of its team members from Edmonton to Fort McMurray to train technicians for its customers. “That level of support and the proximity to the equipment and the site is incredibly valuable,” says Tiedemann. “And especially during COVID, you couldn’t do that if you were a manufacturer from the U.S.”
“Our proximity and intimate knowledge of our core customers give us an exceptional advantage in providing unparalleled support,” he says. “As a local manufacturer and award-winning innovator, we offer a level of support that is truly second to none.”
Beyond fuel, the product offers so many advantages that entire operational layers can be repurposed by adopting modern technology, according to Tiedemann. This, he says, allows large organizations to solve manpower shortages with technology that simultaneously simplifies operations while meeting ESG mandates and lowering costs.