Startup Spotlight is an ongoing series which profiles Canadian wireless and mobile technology startups.
This month, we spoke with Jeffrey Yee, the CEO of Aarcomm. Aarcomm Systems Inc. is a Coquitlam-based startup company that is positioned to be a major manufacturer of wireless control products for mobile industrial equipment. Their team has an extensive repertoire ranging from RF design in satellite communications to licensed UHF remote controls, which has led them to extensive success in the design and deployment of control electronics into harsh factory, mobile, construction and mining environments.
Tell us about the story behind Aarcomm. What about industrial remote controls gets the team excited?
Our founding team was involved with industrial remote controls many years ago and has designed a few very successful products in the past. After leaving the industry to pursue other passions and experiences, we decided to re-unite one decade later, after hearing about the lack of technological advancements in the industry as well as a complete disregard for service and support of the customer base. This really hit home for us and is the main driving force behind Aarcomm. We are constantly frustrated by hearing horror stories about customers that are using poorly designed products that fail in the field or resorting to unconventional work-arounds because the product wasn’t designed to do exactly what they wanted. Not only is this a safety problem, but it ultimately results in higher costs in manufacturing and operations for the customer. Oftentimes, the customer is not even aware about these inefficiencies because they are so used to doing the same thing over and over. At the heart of it, we are engineers and problem solvers. We love to find creative ways to do things more efficiently and economically while maintaining quality and reliability.
Can you give us your perspective on the industry and how Aarcomm fits in?
Our industrial remote control products are designed to control machinery used in construction, mining, oil and gas, marine, forestry and agriculture. These applications are often mission critical and uptime is extremely important. A significant economic impact can be brought upon the customer if a piece of machinery becomes inoperable because of a faulty remote control. We have designed our products to be rugged and reliable, and are capable of surviving extremely harsh environments. The nature of this industry doesn’t lend itself to a lot of innovation. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find any flashy or bleeding edge technology. Instead, this industry is focused on time tested and proven technologies. This is what Aarcomm brings to the table, but with a twist of innovation.
Where do you currently find success in the market? What are the opportunities for you to expand into in the near future?
Aarcomm has been successful in providing remote controls to the Hydro Excavation market. This new technique for excavation is non-destructive and is a more accurate and safer way to excavate soil and to locate underground pipes and utilities. The process involves using high pressure water to loosen the soil and a large vacuum to remove the soil and debris. It is becoming the most preferred method of digging because of its accuracy, efficiency, safety, and cost. We are currently exploring other markets for our remotes including concrete mixers as well as mobile hydraulic cranes.
Aarcomm clearly has a customer-oriented focus when developing products. What’s the latest exciting project your team has been working on?
Aarcomm recently introduced a new remote control system called the PNUT (portable networkable universal transceiver). It’s a revolutionary product for the industry which will set a new standard in industrial remote controls. It is completely waterproof, can survive being dropped from a multi-story building, and can even be driven over by a truck. There are no mechanical moving parts in the design which makes it very rugged and reliable. The design allows the user to not only control digital on/off functions with buttons, but they can also emulate a mechanical joystick using our patented motion sensing technology. This allows proportional controls using a single button. In addition to the mechanical reliability, it also has unparalleled RF range performance, allowing the signal to travel through several layers of walls. This is important when operating in industrial environments where the conditions are unknown. Another unique feature is the use of dual LCD screens to replace traditional button labels or decals. This architecture allows the customer to rapidly reduce their design and implementation time of a custom remote control for a new piece of machinery.
The PNUT system is designed with care and precision. Not only is it innovative from an engineering standpoint, we also put a lot of thought and effort into how the product is used in the field. It is the result of years of experience and feedback from customers. We believe that this product can make a significant impact on the customer’s bottom line by improving their efficiency in manufacturing, inventory management, customer service costs, and operations.