Charting global seas and markets with novel ocean technology
NRC propels the commercial success of a Canadian environmental monitoring firm
November 15, 2013— Sidney, British Columbia
Charting Global Seas and Markets with Novel Ocean Technology (PDF, 81.6 KB)
When Harry Weiler looks out his window over Sidney Harbour on the Southern tip of Vancouver Island, he can see his novel technology at work. He is the CEO of AXYS Technologies, a high-growth Canadian firm that designs and manufactures remote environmental data acquisition, processing and telemetry systems. His bright yellow wave monitoring buoys bob among the waves of the Pacific Ocean directly outside his office. They gather real time information on directional waves, current profile, sea surface temperature, salinity, wind, atmospheric pressure, relative humidity, and air temperature. This data enables educated decision-making in a host of ocean-based industries, from fisheries to meteorology, natural resources, energy, transportation, security and environment. This Canadian device with 'NRC inside' is found in more than 30 countries — and it is propelling the commercial success of AXYS.
This BC-based firm has acquired more than 35 years of experience in the development, deployment and maintenance of offshore systems. The TRIAXYS™ sensor is a top selling product that underpins the entire AXYS offering. At the heart of this precision measurement instrument is an algorithm that emerged from NRC more than two decades ago.
"In the early 1990's, AXYS initiated the collaborative development of new marine technologies with NRC," said Mr. Weiler. "We aimed to develop a robust directional wave monitoring buoy that provided users from different sectors with the reliable, comprehensive ocean data they require for decision-making. Although there were several competing devices on the market, all had well-known limitations. We knew what we wanted to develop — and NRC provided the ideas, expertise and resources required to translate our vision into a market-ready product."
In his quest to develop a superior wave monitoring technology, Mr. Weiler engaged Mike Miles, an Ocean Scientist with NRC who was developing a novel algorithm to monitor waves from a floating platform. The company licensed this innovation from NRC, and collaborated with its Hydraulic Research Centre on the integration of this algorithm into a wave sensor. The emerging device was sensitive enough to assess many different ocean conditions, and gather all the information required to compete with existing technology. With this sensor in hand, the collaborators initiated the development of a robust buoy to house the sensor, and enable reliable operation in the ocean. Following the completion of a prototype, AXYS conducted demonstrations in NRC's large-scale wave tank to assess its performance in authentic ocean conditions. Building on the outcomes of this testing, the R&D team continually enhanced the product and celebrated its successful market launch in 2000.
Over the last 15 years, AXYS has continued to collaborate with NRC on product enhancements and the development of other ocean technologies. According to Mr. Weiler, the TRIAXYS Directional Wave Buoy is a key driver to his commercial success. "This device generates significant and consistent revenue for AXYS. Our collaboration with NRC accelerated the development of this product, and helped us to secure initial customers around the world. We have captured about 40 percent of the global market for ocean measurement devices — and we continue to expand our international reach. Today, this technology is gathering ocean data for a host of sectors in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. The TRIAXYS buoy developed in partnership with NRC played a pivotal role in the development of our global business, and the worldwide export of this Canadian technology."
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