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The Future Of Industrial Services In Canada And The US And How Companies Should Be Adapting To Changing Market Dynamics

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aluminium joinery business

by Iggy Domagalski, CEO of Wajax

Industrial services is a vast sector of the economy in both Canada and the US that has evolved significantly in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and offers entrepreneurs a wide range of business opportunities. Now more than ever, the sector relies on digital capabilities to enhance the reach, flexibility, and efficiency of industrial services.

Here, we explore some of the emerging trends in today’s industrial services sector that are reshaping business operations. Businesses that provide innovative solutions in these areas will have a higher likelihood of attracting the attention of industrial companies looking for value-added options.

Increased sustainability through more efficient machinery

The industrial sector relies heavily on large machinery, as operations such as mining, construction, and material handling require specialized equipment designed to move extreme loads — often in extreme conditions. Technologies that allow businesses to operate this equipment with greater efficiency can improve their profitability while also contributing toward greater, overarching sustainability goals.

Transitioning to more efficient engines is one of the steps businesses can take to improve efficiency. Tier 4 diesel engines, for example, are more efficient and emit fewer harmful pollutants compared to earlier generations of diesel engines, and their dual fuel technology allows them to switch from diesel to cleaner options such as natural gas when it is available.

Emission control technologies dramatically increase sustainability by reducing the environmental impact of engine exhaust. Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) accomplishes this by converting harmful exhaust components to less harmful compounds, and the inclusion of Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF) traps particles contained in the exhaust to reduce particulate matter emissions released into the environment.

Even when engines are not upgraded, enhanced maintenance services can increase efficiency by ensuring engine components are operating optimally. Maintenance helps ensure engine components are operating optimally, thereby improving efficiency, and reducing emissions. Companies that provide maintenance services for industrial equipment help businesses increase their efficiency without investing in new equipment.

Leading sustainability experts have recently called for those in the Canadian industrial sector to seek a more sustainable future by prioritizing environmental stewardship. Meanwhile, in the US, the Department of Energy established a Federal Advisory Committee in February 2024 to develop strategies for decarbonizing America’s industrial sector. Both of these developments promise more opportunities for eco-entrepreneurs focused on the industrial services sector.

Greater reliability through greater connectivity

Advancements in technology have led to the rise of connected equipment, which uses sensors and wireless networks to provide an inflow of performance data from machinery. The data collected from those sensors can be analyzed to identify inefficiencies and failures — a process sometimes known as telematics — which provides businesses with insights on ways to improve efficiency and productivity.

Smart meters are one example of connected equipment in the energy sector that provide real-time data on energy consumption, allowing energy companies to identify conditions that could cause outages and to adjust in ways that keep grids functioning optimally. Sensors on transformers that monitor power quality are another application of connected equipment in the energy sector.

Predictive analytics — a process that has become more available as artificial intelligence has advanced — also allows businesses to extract valuable insights from data. By mining the data provided by connected equipment, AI can identify patterns that reveal when equipment is at risk of failing. Anomalies in oil pressure on a mining vehicle, for example, can be noted and compared to past data to determine if they indicate the equipment involved requires immediate maintenance.

Seamless customer experiences through digital integrations

Modern consumers want easier ways of doing business, and this rings true in the industrial services sector as in any other sector. Businesses that can streamline the processes involved with obtaining information and conducting transactions will have a competitive edge.

Providing electronic integration via e-commerce punchout or electronic data interchange (EDI) for customers is one way to significantly streamline the business process.  These sophisticated integrations link directly to the consumer’s internal systems, opening a portal that allows order information to flow seamlessly between the provider and purchaser. Multi-step processes such as placing an order — preparing a purchase order, converting it to a PDF, submitting it to an account representative, and awaiting a confirmation — are eliminated with electronic integration, allowing the consumer to complete the process with the single touch point of creating a purchase order.

Enhanced value through bespoke services

Providing bespoke services is another avenue for business growth in the industrial services sector. This involves developing customized products or experiences for customers that serve their unique needs.

An example of a bespoke initiative that has worked for Wajax is a customized Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) online ordering service we provide for one of our customers. As part of our customer’s onboarding process, we send new employees to our local branch where they are fitted for safety gear by our representatives. The new employees then log in to a custom online portal we have created and order the PPE that the company has authorized for their position, with all of the paperwork being processed in the background. The day after the order is placed, they receive a nice personalized box delivered to their facility with all of their new PPE equipment.

Rather than asking the business to go to our website and shop through the same interface every other customer uses, we provide them with a bespoke portal branded for their company and tailored to their specifications. When employees need to order new equipment in the future, they return to the portal, access their profile, and get what they need with a few clicks. The service streamlines ordering for the company while also fostering an enhanced employee experience.

Each of these emerging trends in the industrial services sector echoes the consumer expectations that are evolving in the business world at large. Consumers will not be satisfied with businesses that simply sell products; they want businesses that are willing to understand their needs and partner with them to provide a solution. Those who can connect in that way will be well-positioned to thrive in the emerging market dynamics.

 

Iggy DomagalskiIggy Domagalski is President & CEO of Wajax, one of Canada’s longest-standing and most diversified industrial products and services companies. With a diverse background spanning industrial equipment, finance, and acquisitions, he has led organizations of all sizes including national publicly traded, mid-market private, small business, and non-profit.  He has been named one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 and one of Canada’s 50 Most Inspirational Entrepreneurs.