Advancing manufacturing companies with digital solutions

A provider of industrial automation and Industry 4.0 solutions, Grantek has a long track record of helping its clients achieve operational excellence and reduce time to market through leveraging innovative solutions and the latest technologies to improve productivity and product quality

Founded in 1980, Grantek is a system integrator and technology consulting company, with a specialization in automation, controls, manufacturing execution systems (MES), advanced analytics, and cybersecurity. Over the course of the last four decades, the company – headquartered in Burlington, Ontario, and with offices throughout the United States and Canada – has provided its clients with a higher return on investment by staying current with cutting edge technologies, being highly involved in global industry associations, and linking engineering projects to achieving corporate business goals.

“For 41 years, this is a business that has grown purely organically to become one of the largest system integrators in the world,” begins Jeff Winter, Grantek’s Senior Director of Strategy & Marketing. “As we have grown in size and scale, so too has the way in which we serve our customers. Whereas in the past we have focused on being responsive to a customers’ need to see their systems integrated in rapid order, today our vast amount of knowledge and experience allows us to guide said companies towards accomplishing their longer-term business goals through experience and industry leadership.”

The primary industries served by Grantek are the food and beverage, life sciences, and the consumer packaged goods (CPG) sectors operating in North America. “Where our value sits – and where most of our business now resides – is with mid-to-large-size multi-site, companies,” Jeff explains. “These tend to be those organizations that value technological consistency, adherence to global standards and governmental regulations, and adaptability to local requirements. That is where we really excel, and where we have found ourselves differentiating ourselves from our competition.”

Another aspect about Grantek that Jeff says makes it unique and highly valued by its clients is its commitment to being a true industry thought leader, not just a subject matter expert. Jeff continues: “Historically, whenever we have entered into a new industry or looked to launch a new type of service or product, we submerse ourselves into all of the right places in the industry so we can provide insights our clients can’t get anywhere else. We don’t want to just be the technical wizards on the subject, we want to be a part of the working groups, committees, associations, and standards groups that address the most challenging industry problems and influence the direction of the industry. Examples include several board of director positions within MESA, multiple leadership roles with ISA’s Smart Manufacturing Division, and acting as US registered experts and voting members of multiple standards as part of IEC’s TC65 committee. This helps us to not only be able to answer questions for our clients around best practices today, but also around industry trends and the best practices of tomorrow,” Jeff adds. “The last thing a client wants is to invest a lot of money into a new technology and be out of compliance with industry standards that are being developed.”

Jeff and his team of industry thought leaders have been given the not inconsiderable task of leading the evolution of the business as it continues to grow and evolve. “What my team is doing on a daily basis is helping to change the dynamic of the conversations that Grantek has with its customers around their long-term strategic goals, what their vision of the future looks like, and whether or not the projects that they are planning to implement will actually support their business objectives,” Jeff states. “My team complements our project and engineering teams by ensuring everyone (Grantek, vendors, contractors, and our clients) is making the most informed project decisions based off industry best practices, benchmarking data, and achieving long-term strategic goals.

“Once we learn the culture, the structure, the business goals, the technology stacks, and the current state of a particular client, we are often able to provide additional value by suggesting future projects and initiatives that would be uniquely beneficial to them. Our goal is to become a ‘trusted advisor’, where they lean on our industry expertise and knowledge of their company to help jointly craft projects and initiatives that align with strategic objectives. This often results in strategic planning workshops, helping to develop business case justifications, and even the development of internal policies, standards, and specifications that may be necessary for long-term success.”

Jeff details how a big proponent of this successful model has been a strong push towards embracing the concepts of Industry 4.0 and digital. “As an organization, we have pivoted toward an analytical approach to identify where our projects originate from, what technologies are included, what initiatives they support, and what other projects they are connected to. Not only does this help better forecast the skills necessary for our future workload, but it also helps us identify which projects may be worth recommending to other companies who may be in similar situations

“It is quite common for us to receive request for implementing the most exciting technologies, such as augmented reality or artificial intelligence. What most companies perhaps don’t realize, however, is that these are all rather broad terms, and when we lift up the hood on their operations, we find that they are not yet in a position to implement these technologies, let alone benefit from their capabilities. It is then our job to guide them on a journey towards achieving their longer-term vision, often by ensuring they have the proper technological, process, and cultural foundations necessary to embrace the visions of Industry 4.0. This typically results in projects geared more toward infrastructure improvements or implementing/upgrading Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES).”

Such is the company’s proficiency in providing the above services that it today finds itself being – as Jeff describes – “the busiest we have ever been, with the wider industry in general also doing exceptionally well”. The aforementioned MES and network infrastructure services that Grantek has become so well versed in delivering are in particularly high demand, with MES engineers finding themselves some of the most sought-after people in the industry in 2021. “We are seeing with most of our clients that their willingness to invest heavily in improving their own operations is very strong, and this is reflected in their growing respective capital expenditure budgets,” he adds.

Grantek has certainly come a long way since it was formed over 40 years ago. In that time, the company has gone through a number of strategic growth phases. “The first – and longest – phase that we went through was very much focused on providing the right services with the right skillsets to our clients,” Jeff points out. “From there, we moved into a phase centred around providing solutions that take advantage of our portfolio of services, skills, and engineering capabilities.

“Now, as we make our way through 2021, we are entering the next phase of our story, which we like to see as being based around outcomes. So, what this means is, we are going to be shifting our attention towards engaging with our clients on the types of long-term outcomes that they can achieve by working with Grantek. These outcomes are based off the output our solutions deliver. This is where our focus will be for the foreseeable future. It makes sense too, because we see it as a natural progression in our own evolution, after all you have to have a good understanding of services before you can package them into solutions, and you have to be able to understand solutions and have an appropriate amount of data associated with them before you can prove to a client what outcomes they can expect to receive.”

In summary then, the months and years ahead have all the making of being an exciting period of time for Grantek. “Everyone here shares the same degree of enthusiasm for what the future holds for our company and our place within the industry,” Jeff concludes. “We can see from the level of demand out there that ours is an industry area with further room to grow, and we intend to grow in line with this as much as we possibly can!”

Services: System integrations and solutions