2019 is a big year for multiVIEW Locates Inc. as the Ontario-based utility locating company marks its 30th anniversary. What’s in store for the long-time locating innovator that has championed safe construction practices through its technology and range of services?
“It’s been an honour to service the Ontario and Québec markets for the past 30 years, and we’re grateful for our customers that have made this possible,” said multiVIEW president Kevin Vine. “Over the past three decades, we’ve witnessed remarkable change and have continually evolved our business model to keep pace with this change while holding on to the core values that have guided us since 1989 — Safety, Quality & Customer Excellence.”
For multiVIEW Locates Inc., its incorporation coincided with a time when the application of geophysical techniques was just starting to gain popularity in urban centres as construction companies, engineering firms and municipalities were becoming aware of the importance of scanning or locating prior to breaking ground or drilling concrete.
multiVIEW originated as a full- service geophysics company that had evolved from the consulting division of A-Cubed Inc.: an organization founded in the early 1980s that specialized in the development of new airborne electromagnetic (EM) and ground penetrating radar (GPR) systems. Through this evolution, multiVIEW shares a unique history with Sensors & Software, a renowned, world-wide leader in the innovation and manufacturing of GPR systems.
multiVIEW Locates Inc. was officially incorporated in the province of Ontario in 1989, and is privately owned and operated. For many years, the company operated solely from its head office location in Mississauga, Ontario. About six years ago, an Ottawa office location was opened to service the City and surrounding area. Kitchener and London-based office locations followed soon after to fulfill multiple contracts in these areas.
In the early days, multiVIEW focused on applying geophysical techniques to solve geotechnical and environmental challenges. These techniques included seismic reflection/refraction, borehole geophysics, time domain electromagnetics, frequency domain electromagnetics, among others.
Over time, the application of these techniques began to gain popularity within urban spaces, for example, to scan concrete or locate complex buried utilities. As an industry innovator, multiVIEW helped pioneer early applications of GPR for concrete scanning.
“This was important (and still is) for safety/liability reasons in addition to ensuring sound project design and avoiding unexpected surprises during the construction phase,” says Vine.
Demand for these services only continued to increase, particularly with the introduction of Bill 8 in 2012, The Underground Infrastructure Notification Act which, among other things, requires owners of buried infrastructure in the public right of way to register their infrastructure with Ontario One Call.
It is now legally mandated in Ontario to call or click before you dig, and services such as Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) are becoming a common staple of municipal contracts. SUE is a more in-depth approach to utility locating that involves four key steps (referred to as Quality Levels) – Quality Level D: conduct records research, Quality Level C: observe visible above ground features that indicate the presence of buried utilities, Quality Level B: apply geophysical methods to locate utilities, Quality Level A: expose utilities through vacuum excavation. multiVIEW was performing this service back in the early 1990s, since before it was a recognized practice in Ontario, Vine says.
As more competition entered the market over the last three decades, multiVIEW has stayed true to its roots, which is what Vine says separates the company from the rest. “Something that differentiates multiVIEW is that our history is deeply rooted in geophysics, and as we’ve evolved, we’ve maintained these roots,” he says. “We still offer a range of near-surface geophysical services, and our geophysics department plays a lead role in overseeing quality management throughout every area of our business.”
But he also touts other areas in which he says multiVIEW stands out from the field, including its depth of experience, diverse skills and expertise, unique approach to resourcing and technical innovation.
“Unlike many of our competitors, multiVIEW focuses on technical innovation which is guided by our manager of technical services. This investment in technology directly impacts both our performance in the field and the quality of our deliverables,” Vine says. “For example, we integrate GIS software into our workflow which allows us to display shape files on maps and create .gbd databases for larger quantities of data. In doing so, we can create custom utility maps that are leveraged by our field technicians to assist with and verify locates. The utility maps are either stored locally on the user’s mobile-enabled laptop or accessed remotely via a published web-based map.”
The company is also passionate about its involvement with damage prevention, actively participating in the conversation around safe excavation through several strategies. These include involvement in industry associations such as the Ontario Regional Common Ground Alliance (ORCGA) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE); participation in campaigns including DigSafe and Call-or-Click-Before-You-Dig; offering educational sessions through a Lunch & Learn program; and publishing timely information on a company blog, through social media channels, as well as in articles that have appeared in publications such as Trenchless Technology Canada and Trenchless Technology, among others.
“We [also] staff one of Ontario’s largest 24/7 ticket look up and screening centres,” Vine says. “the Centre processes hundreds of thousands of Ontario One Call excavation requests annually, helping customers save money.”
As a result of the uptick in demand for geophysical services, multiVIEW found itself involved in the burgeoning trenchless market. Vine says that, essentially, all of its service areas are “trenchless” methods as multiVIEW’s role in the trenchless industry consists of applying a wide range of geophysical techniques and technologies to gather subsurface data without intrusive testing. Through the methods that multiVIEW uses, (electromagnetic induction, GPR, vacuum excavation, time domain electromagnetics (TDEM), frequency domain electromagnetics (FDEM), seismic reflection/refraction, borehole geophysics, CCTV pipe and sewer inspection), the company is able to provide a wide range of subsurface insights such as the horizontal and vertical position of buried utilities; the location and severity of soil contamination; the internal condition of pipes, laterals and manholes; the extent of rebar corrosion; the thickness of pavement, asphalt, concrete, etc., all without breaking ground.
Services such as subsurface utility engineering (SUE) are no longer being viewed as “nice to have,” but as “a need to have,” Vine says, adding that he is increasingly seeing this service become a core component of municipal requests for proposals, requests for quotations, etc.
Furthermore, Vine identifies cross bores as a major industry challenge in today’s market. A cross bore is described as the intersection of an existing underground utility or underground structure by a second utility installed using trenchless technology. These can cause extensive damage and even be fatal where gas is involved. “multiVIEW provides sewer and pipe inspection services that detect and diagnose cross bores,” Vine says. “Through these services, we assist companies and municipalities in implementing sewer safety inspection (SSI) programs.”
Looking back on 30 years of success, Vine reflects on what has allowed the company to have such a sustained presence and be a leader in the industry.
“We feel it is important to view ourselves as a true partner in our customer’s success. We don’t just complete a project and move on. We help our customers from project inception to close,” he says. “Once a project is complete, we maintain contact with customers and make ourselves available for subsequent feedback, questions etc. As such, we’ve enjoyed many long-term relationships over the course of our 30 years in business.”
Did You know that multiVIEW
- Helped to pioneer original applications of ground penetrating radar (GPR) for concrete scanning in the early 1990s. GPR has since surpassed X-Ray as a safer, more efficient method to scan concrete.
- Gives back to the communities it serves and actively partakes in a number of charitable events that benefit organizations including The SickKids Foundation, the Ottawa Centre for Mental Health, The Special Olympics, and Women in Construction. The company also organizes multiple food drives throughout the year.
- Has a senior management team that is 60 per cent comprised of females, and employs an extremely diverse workforce, which is reinforced by its Workplace Diversity Policy