SUDBURY -- A Sudbury-based company is looking to revolutionize the mining industry with its Amazon-like distribution model.

FORTAI recently became the first recipient of the Sudbury Catalyst Fund, which is investing $250,000 as seed capital into the mining start-up.

Built for mining environments, the company's ADMMIT technology provides an autonomous mobile inventory management system, tracks, delivers and manages material movement in real-time, from purchase to consumption and links to planning and inventory controls. It has also produced a customizable mine-ready container called a SmartCube, which works with their platform.

"The uptick has been incredible," said Trang Tran-Valade, president of FORTAI. "We have partners in industry, as well as technology, all agreeing with us for the need for this technology in mining and working with us, signing up with us as global ecosystem partners to bring this technology forward to truly transform what we do with it in mining."

The service is still in the early stages.

 "We're, right now, still in proof of concept, but it will be available soon enough. We've been developing the last two years here in Sudbury, doing research and development and now we're proud to have products available to market," Tran-Valade said.

The company has launched and it's already got components of the product on the marketplace. Tran-Valade is hoping to have it all ready by the end of next year.

"We're definitely gaining international interest. So while we're building this ecosystem of partners .... we are talking to clients both locally, across Sudbury, internationally, all the way out to South Africa and Australia," she said.

World wide potential

"We see this taking over the world and really changing the onset of what mining looks like. When you go to a mine, you see our autonomous vehicles, our smart cubes, our mobile inventory management system at every single mine. And with those ecosystem partners that I mentioned earlier, we're working with giants like Amazon and SAP to deliver this solution, so we believe that we will be international and that we will be bringing the globe to Sudbury," said Tran-Valade.

"FORTAI is just another great story that's coming out of this cluster," said Mine Connect Executive Director Paul Bradette. "You know to be able to take Amazon-like technology, you know re-design it for deployment at the 5 or 6,000 feet level underground is truly amazing. And if you look at all the technology that needs to be applied to that and it's just representative of what this cluster is all about."

FORTAI is a member of Mine Connect, which used to be called Sudbury Area Mining Supply & Service Association, an organization that looked out for those working in the mining supply and services sector in Sudbury. Mine Connect has now expanded to represent all of Northern Ontario.

"Mining, like any other industry, needs to transform. We need to get to the next level and with safety being paramount, coupled with environmental concerns. We need this type of capability," said Bradette. "If you look at what this cluster represents, you know we were the first one in northern Ontario to develop battery-run electric vehicles for underground application. We were the first mine in the world to want to adopt that technology."

Bradette said they have a lot of companies working on the autonomous angle that are promising to revolutionize what many sectors are seeing.

In the end, FORTAI said it has high hopes for its product and believes it will be everywhere within the next five to ten years.

 "We are building something amazing here that will truly transform the industry," said Tran-Valade.