Ready for Boarding

It’s no small task to coordinate staff rotations and cargo deliveries to remote mine sites. Montreal-headquartered Nomadis aims to put transport logistics at your fingertips.

TWO IN. TWO OUT. The basic rotation schedule for a remote northern mine is easy enough to understand, at least on a superficial level. But think about it for a moment. There are many links in the chain to get mine workers from their homes to their jobs. Several companies may be involved, from charter flight companies to local ground transport firms in communities that cover the “last mile” to nearby projects. Add in the fact that cargo is travelling with those people, and the task of transport logistics starts to look very complex. 

For the past 20 years, Montreal-headquartered Nomadis has been developing software systems to streamline this task. Its goal: To make the process efficient, secure and transparent to all involved. “It’s always been our philosophy… to have a very holistic approach,” says Nomadis founder and CEO Jean-Philippe Lavallée. “Our product can be viewed somewhat as an ecosystem where we tackle all aspects of the logistics.” 

This is heady stuff, but the concepts become more concrete when compared to how things used to be done. When Nomadis launched, its focus was on Nunavik where it worked with the government and healthcare sectors, developing platforms to manage air transport, ground transport, and accommodation logistics for patients and workers. Not long after, a mining firm hired the company to develop a similar platform for its operations. 

Back in those days, companies and agencies typically managed their transport logistics on spreadsheetslarge ones. Lavallée says this system came with inherent flaws. Spreadsheets were shared among groups of people who might be located in any number of places. Real-time updating was impossible, and there was no way to be sure stakeholders in the processfrom company employees to service providershad the same information. Files could also get lost or corrupted as they moved between discrete stakeholder groups. 

Nomadis saw a solution to the problem using web-based technology that gave access to everyone involved and eliminated many of the issues associated with traditional spreadsheets. Today, it’s advanced its technology to a cloud-based platform that ensures the most up-to-date information is readily available, validated, and protected by industry-leading security. “We’ve made the space evolve from siloed operations into something that’s cloud-based where all the stakeholders can interconnect and have a view on the information with strong security, data integrity, [and] validation policy mechanisms,” Lavallée says. 

In addition to a streamlined and transparent process, Lavallée says Nomadis offers advantages that come with reportingthat is, the ability to use data generated by the system to find opportunities for even greater efficiencies and cost savings. A remote mine, for example, may need to coordinate travel for skilled workers from across the country to the worksite, which can involve buying plane tickets to charter hubs. That raises questions around working out the most cost-effective flight arrangements and determining which charter hub offers the best value for dollar. “So,” Lavallée says, “we’ve developed, through the years, very advanced reporting functionalities to enable companies to better analyze their behavior patterns and adapt their assets or inventory to that in the most efficient way.” 

Beyond that, the system can be used to optimize cargo load factors on flights while incorporating up-to-date information on the number of passengers. Or even help with camp operations. “We’ve got algorithms that can propose the right room and optimize the capacity of the camp,” Lavallée says. “So, a company could maybe accommodate some expansion project and build a smaller extension to the camp.” 

As the market evolves in embracing technology, Lavallée continues, Nomadis is integrating self-service models in its solution, where those travelling to remote worksites are able to perform various tasks via kiosks at transport hubs and camps, or on their mobile devices —to deal with issues such as confirming itineraries, making changes, checking in, and even self-checking baggage. “We have a strong motivation to always develop something innovative and add value,” Lavallée says. “We’re bringing it to a next level where there will be an expanded ecosystem.”   

 

As seen in the print issue (n.3/2021) of Up Here Magazine.