A vital component that determines success is the ability to recognize, develop and implement innovative technologies. Significant growth has been achieved over the past five years with the company’s Angus Connect, which provides Information, Communications and Automation (ICAT) Technology consulting to a wide range of industry sectors. This proprietary vehicle drives the planning and design of information, communications and automation technologies to take a client’s project from the conceptual phase all the way through to occupancy and beyond.
“It essentially started in healthcare with the Smart Hospital. Where we differentiate from other mechanical and electrical engineering firms is that we provide the up-front, strategic consulting side for the owners. It has since transitioned over to commercial, hospitality and other sectors as well,” remarks Dhargalkar.
“The way that we think about the information and the idea of a database that is storing the collective engineering information about a project is a fundamental shift at a production level for the business,” says Keenan.
Throughout a wide range of Canadian business industries the disruption of the next piece of technology is without doubt rooted in artificial intelligence. There is an element of the unknown; so much continues to evolve on a constant basis. Keenan points out the necessity for the company to remain ahead of the curve and work closely with their clients to understand how AI will both disrupt their clients’ businesses – and their own – and properly assess the level of support required, which includes updating skillsets within the organization.
At HH Angus dedicated groups have been formed and they are constantly examining various emerging technologies, including building information modelling software and digital twinning.
“We’re looking at artificial intelligence machine-learning aspects and what it means from a design process and using it day-to-day and what kind of value it brings to the client. We’re also looking at virtual reality technology,” says Dhargalkar.
“A big component of all this is partnerships,” adds Keenan. “We’re a fair-sized company but we’re still only 250 people so it’s crucial to find good partners. We’ve got a research project with Ryerson University to explore some of this digital twinning together and I think that’s the future for companies such as ours.”
Looking to the Future
According to Keenan one of the foremost and exciting challenges facing the industry is capacity, with an insatiable appetite for infrastructure renewal and expansion. HH Angus faces the prospect of having a plethora of new projects being put on the table, which means it’s imperative that the team is able to provide solutions to carry out the expanded workload and meet timelines.
“How do we deal with the disruption of other technologies? It all goes back to the talent piece. If we ensure we bring in the right people with the proper skillsets and develop a strong culture it will be successful,” says Keenan.
Within the healthcare sector HH Angus is part of an expansive project at the Royal Columbian Hospital in British Columbia. The firm is also in the process of pursuing two other substantial projects in this space – one on the east coast and one on the west coast. Commercially, the company is working on several large casino gaming and hospitality projects in Ontario.
The constant drive to attain sustainability and implement the most energy-efficient designs reflects upon a direct response in terms of what is important in society but also represents sound engineering principles. Sustainability as a race without a finish line; it’s an ongoing process, constantly improving and seeking new solutions for clients and society as a whole.
“Society and the group around us have moved some of those traditional constraints and so that opens up a world of new possibilities. People are prepared to invest in sustainable designs and low carbon solutions. We want to continue down this path and do the best type of engineering we can do,” reflects Keenan.
“We are fortunate that we have a very strong energy group within the firm. We’ve seen a lot of interest and demand from our clients regarding low-carbon energy solutions such as how we can reduce the footprint for our clients,” says Dhargalkar.
HH Angus continues to challenge technological convention, and encourages employees to envision change by asking questions, fostering creativity, and promoting inventiveness — all with the singular goal of delivering innovative, effective, and efficient design solutions. A robust company that is able to cope with this capacity while being able to withstand challenges and vagaries the market dishes out is essential.
“We want to be able to continue to attract and retain top talent. We have some growth targets and coupled with that is a focus on aligning our work with that of our clients. We want to create additional productivity improvements, which includes technology as well as enhancing relationships with clients. That encapsulates the main focus over the next three to five years,” envisions Keenan. “HH Angus has been able to succeed for 100 years and it’s now beginning work on the next 100.”