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Preventing leaks: Local company holds 14 patents

Cathy Dobson At its testing and training facilities on Confederation Street, a Sarnia company has earned an international reputation for making sure industrial pipes don’t leak.
Technicians James Burdan, left, and Dale O’Donnell of INTEGRA Technologies in Sarnia with controlled bolting equipment developed by the company. INTEGRA holds 14 patents used regularly in Chemical Valley. Submitted photo.

Cathy Dobson 

Made in Sarnia StampAt its testing and training facilities on Confederation Street, a Sarnia company has earned an international reputation for making sure industrial pipes don’t leak.

And if they do leak, INTEGRA Technologies holds patents on state-of-the-art processes to monitor and quickly repair pipes in the oil and gas sector, as well as the nuclear industry.

INTEGRA Technologies has registered patents on 14 products and services, including 12 that were researched and developed in Sarnia to protect against leaks in piping systems and large vessels.

If there’s one thing that’s critical to the petrochemical and nuclear industries, it’s avoiding pipe leaks of any kind, says company president Gord Britton.

“In the industrial sector, things can go wrong and people and the environment can get hurt, so we’re always looking for technologies that are faster, better and safer,” he said.

Britton has been owner of the company since 1995, although INTEGRA Technologies has been in Sarnia since 1986 when its first local customer was Imperial Oil.

Offices opened in 1988 to exclusively serve Chemical Valley. In the 1990s, INTEGRA developed a coupling line boring machine in Sarnia and sold it to the international market.

Proceeds from that transaction were invested in more R & D, Britton said.

Patents include INTEGRA’S Leak Seek service, a process to quickly detect leaks, the self-tightening hydraulic nut, the Pop-Washer that ensures a bolt won’t seize when it’s undone, and the company’s flagship FlangeTrak, which is a leak detection process developed in Sarnia and currently used throughout the North American energy industry.

“These are really valuable technologies that monitor the plants and ensure there are no leaks. If there are any, the problems can be corrected right away,” said Britton.

His company has grown substantially since 2003, and is now in nine locations across North America. A tenth office was located in Fort McMurray but was evacuated last week during the catastrophic wildfires.

In total, INTEGRA Technologies employs 120 people, 20 of them in Sarnia.

“It’s significant that we have long-serving employees in Sarnia and I think that’s because of our very active values and beliefs system,” said Britton. “Without that, I don’t think we’d be as successful as we’ve been.”

Since INTEGRA Technologies was founded to service the oil and gas sector, downsizing and closures within the industry have forced the company to look elsewhere for business.

Pipeline construction is stalled and the low price of oil is slowing new development, said Britton.

“But the oil and gas industry still makes up about 80% of our business and continues to be our bread and butter,” he said. “And now the nuclear industry has become a secondary part of our business and makes up the other 20%.

“It means that, despite drops in oil prices, there is only a minor effect on INTEGRA Technologies and our workforce is secure.”