Alain Lalonde is a civil engineer who found his passion for water conservation early in his career, “It’s simple, I like to help utilities save water and optimize their water distribution systems. It is always doable – it’s a matter of identifying the best path,” says Alain.
Alain was president and co-founding partner in Veritec, a consulting firm that started in 1996 out of Toronto and focussed on all things related to non-revenue water (NRW) & water conservation. During this time, he played a key role in the design and implementation of the first advanced pressure management project in Canada, which spanned 8 years and took place in York Region, Ontario. Alain has an innate understanding of the relationship between hydraulics and leakage which enables him to provide solutions that consider the best technology right sized for a set budget while prioritizing aging infrastructure and optimizing the longevity of assets.
Good business values are paramount
Integrity, collaboration, innovation, accountability, and working towards a common goal, are all important traits to Alain, and the reason he chose MOBILTEX. “These are more than values, they are guiding principles that influence how we make decisions, treat our customers and employees, and stand out from the competition. If we excel at this, so do our customers, and that’s why we are here and why we are passionate about what we do,” said Alain.
As an engineering consultant for close to two decades, Alain understands the pain points of water operators when it comes to aging infrastructure and having to juggle priorities based on tight budgets. During this time, he used dozens of different technology solutions to address leakage and reduce NRW. GCRTech products stood out as among the best for him. “I’ve worked with a lot of sensors over the years – durability, reliability, accuracy and detail of data are what sets these loggers and controllers apart. While they are well known in the UK, bringing this solution to the North American market is going to be a game changer – and we have a great team to make this happen,” said Alain.
What’s important to the customer is important to Alain
As is the case in any acquisition, customers are concerned that they will lose technical support or that product innovation may stall. Ensuring this does not happen is a priority for Alain. Spending time with customers is what he loves, and he’s committed to not only supporting the current needs of the day but also modernizing the MOBILTEX GCRTech product line and developing scalable manufacturing.
“Many of our existing customers in the UK have used GCRTech pressure controllers or flow and transient loggers for decades – they love them. But prior to the acquisition, GCRTech did not have the capacity to fill big orders, both from a manufacturing perspective and support. My role is to leverage the existing excellence at Mobiltex in product development, engineering, manufacturing, and customer support, and to scale GCR Tech to serve new markets while expanding sales in existing regions. The integration of GCRTech into the MOBILTEX family is already paying dividends with new products and the software platform launching in 2023 and new manufacturing capacity at the Mobiltex headquarters in Calgary which is enabling us to build exciting new partnerships with customers.” said Alain.
Alignment of project goals for the best ROI
Government or large water companies’ procurement processes can be cumbersome and utility managers are often expected to be experts in every piece of equipment they own, which is not possible, especially at the rate of technological innovation. “Developing a strong business case is about choosing the right long-term solution to identify and address the problem(s). This is something my team really understands, and we bring this to every bidding process. It requires a lot of listening, strategizing, and problem solving – an engineer’s DNA,” said Alain. “Working with Mobiltex, this comes full circle on the occasions when more is required, and so we go back to the drawing board, and find ways to push the technological parameters even further. Our product development is driven by customer need.”
Always planning for tomorrow
GCRTech products give water utilities the ability to collect more meaningful data on their distribution systems today than ever before – which is both exciting and challenging. The ability to gather critical infrastructure data using IoT-enabled devices and cloud-based software platforms are helping water operators quickly identify and solve “day-to-day” operational issues. But there is so much more to learn about our distribution network health and longevity from these data trends.
Alain is working closely with data scientists to identify and develop data analytic tools to make it easier to see the full picture and provide guidance for preventative maintenance and asset management planning initiatives. “We want our clients to garner an understanding of their water distribution system in an instant. With trends, alerts and advanced analytics, utilities will be empowered to adopt proactive practices and perform predictive analysis. We are taking leakage and NRW to a whole new level and it’s exactly where I want to be, in a time when water shortages and sustainability are at the forefront of every utility around the world,” concluded Alain.