Driving Innovation

Prime Automation Inc.
Written by Robert Hoshowsky

Automation is everywhere, and one of the companies driving the industry is Prime Automation Inc.

Focusing its energy on delivering ingeniously designed, cost-effective solutions, Prime has been remarkably productive, serving clients in a range of industries including life sciences, food and beverage, automotive, and packaging and palletizing since its founding in 2017.

With its headquarters and manufacturing facilities in Waterloo, Ontario, and a staffed Underwriters Laboratories (UL) rated manufacturing facility in Clearwater, Florida, Prime continues to grow. The company has expanded its team to 35-plus employees across all three locations. And, with the hire of senior software developers and experienced mechanical designers, the company is expanding the custom machine-building and process automation parts of the business.

From design, assembly, and installation to Programmable Logic Control (PLC), Human Machine Interface (HMI), and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), Prime has quickly become the leading choice for customers seeking vision systems, safety upgrades, plant-wide integration and control, and other automation services.

Distilling, food, and beverage
In the past year, Prime Automation has doubled down on its verticals in the food and beverage sectors, particularly the automation around distillation of premium spirits.

“What that entails is custom automation equipment to assist with the growing automation trend within the distilling sector,” says one of the company Directors, Mike Taub. “Distilling is becoming more and more automated each day, and we continue to develop exciting solutions.”

For Prime Automation and its customers, a greater emphasis on distillation makes sense. Since the beginning, Prime has taken on projects for several well-known premium spirit distillers and created long-lasting relationships within the distilling world for process automation across North America and abroad.

Technology hub
Ontario’s Waterloo Region is home to many of the world’s best-known high-tech giants, who benefit from the area’s proximity to the Canada-U.S. border, respected academic institutions, and available talent pool.

“There’s also the reputation the area has built for our skill sets,” says Ryan Bauml, Director of Automation. “When you hear about automation companies, Waterloo seems to be where the highest horsepower is in Canada and maybe [all of] North America. All the big companies are here, and they’re here for a reason.”

According to Waterloo Region, the area “has one of the world’s fastest growing tech sectors and the world’s second highest start-up density after Silicon Valley.” The region is also home to The Accelerator Centre and Communitech Hub, two world-class commercialization hubs “that turn great ideas into successful businesses for talent and acquisitions.”

Educational institutions driving technological innovation include Conestoga College, and the University of Waterloo (U of W).

Ranked the most innovative university in Canada for 30 of the last 32 years (as per Maclean’s 2024 university rankings) and number one for hands-on experiential learning in Canada (Maclean’s Student Voices Survey 2022), some of U of W’s departments include the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, Software Engineering, and Systems Design Engineering.

The region is also home to Conestoga College. Known for its apprenticeship training and career-focused education, the college’s 270-plus programs include Computer Science, Mechanical Systems Engineering, Electro-Mechanical and Automation Maintenance (Optional Co-op), and Mechanical Engineering Technology – Automated Manufacturing (Optional Co-op).

Serving industry
Bauml also sits on one of Conestoga’s Program Advisory Committees (PAC). Consisting of industry experts, school board representatives, employers, and government officials, PACs meet several times a year to assist Conestoga faculty with understanding industry needs “to better train a qualified and skilled workforce,” according to the college.

To date, Prime Automation has several graduates from the local universities and colleges on its staff and is active with Co-op opportunities for Conestoga College students. The company has a section on its website (https://www.primeautomation.ca/Testimonials.htm) dedicated to Student Success Stories.

“We can serve our Ontario clients better,” says Taub. “There’s a big knowledge pool up here with the surrounding Universities and Colleges. The region gives us access to high-level people for this industry, which is good.”

Along with being named an Employer of the Year (Co-op) by Conestoga College, Prime has been featured on The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business list of Canada’s Top Growing Companies, with revenue growth of 144 percent per year. In addition, Prime Automation is also featured in Waterloo’s Robotics and Automation Ecosystem as a controls system integrator.

Range of clients
In less than a decade, with impressive and sustained start-up energy, Prime Automation has emerged as one of Canada’s leading automation solutions companies. With expertise in areas that include project management, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), mechanical and electrical design, throughput optimization, installation and service, instrumentation, and more, clients know they can rely on Prime for their automation needs.

Since its founding, Prime has reached new clients mainly through word-of-mouth recommendations from existing customers and partnerships with other companies. As the company makes inroads into the food and beverage sectors and distilling, it plans to have more direct contact with interested parties.

Also working on revamping its branding, Prime will unveil a new website in a few months which will include specifics on projects, the types of machine builds Prime can provide, and success stories from previous projects.

Continuing to serve clients in areas as diverse as metal forming and automotive, the team at Prime Automation envisions continued growth in all sectors. In life sciences, this includes pharmaceutical packaging and distributed control systems (DCS), which automate industrial equipment.

“Food and beverage and distilling is going to be the big path forward,” says Taub, “and life sciences and pharmaceutical is another good path for us moving forward.”



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