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RJ Maclean – Disrupting the status quo to bring innovation to the energy industry

Kiely Maclean, President and CEO of RJ Maclean.

RJ Maclean is working to modernize the energy industry, using innovative technology to do some of its dirtiest – and most dangerous – work.

Storage tank cleaning is an essential process in the oil sector and is required to be performed in any facility where oil is stored. Traditionally, this process involves removing as much of the product or sludge within the tank as possible, then people climb into the tanks to finish the job by hand. Despite rigorous safety precautions, this is some of the most dangerous work being done in the industry.

After completing her degree, Kiely chose to take a job working at the field level for a tank cleaning company. Working on the front lines of these projects, Kiely was able to see first-hand an opportunity for technological and environmental innovation. Both Kiely and her father, Greg Maclean, a long advocate for innovation in energy, were convinced that these archaic cleaning methods could be modernized. The father-daughter team initiated a consultation company called Maclean Tank Services, a global consulting company that taught people in the industry how to use robotics for tank cleaning.

Challenging the status quo

In 2015, Kiely and Greg then partnered with RJ Oil Sands (now RJ Enterprises), headed up by Jack Seguin, another award-winning innovator in the energy sector.

One of the biggest challenges RJ Maclean faced early on was the high degree of difficulty in gaining entry in this sector. The energy industry is generally well established, meaning it can be difficult to change the status quo. However, RJ Maclean had an innovative way of scaling these barriers.

“When we walked through the technology with potential clients, we would start by cleaning a tank using the traditional methods, to prove that we were familiar with the process and the standards,” says Kiely Maclean, CEO and Co-Founder of RJ Maclean. “From there, we could introduce one robot at a time to demonstrate how the process worked and the opportunities for efficiency.”

RJ Maclean went through this process with several Canadian clients. Eventually word of RJ Maclean’s unique methods and technology spread throughout the industry, challenging competition to also star to adopt automation. Soon, a leading international energy corporation recognized the value in the innovation and bought into it wholeheartedly. “We’ve been given the opportunity to work for them across North America. It shows what we have been able to accomplish as a relatively new company in the last five years.”

RJ Maclean has been able to cultivate a team of young professionals who are engaged in a modern approach to establish the foundation of their business. “Competition doesn’t scare me,” says Kiely. “It’s the people on our team that give us an edge, they are the ones driving the innovation. Ultimately, its the method our team uses to execute the work that makes it hard for our competitors to keep up.”

The Edmonton metro region advantage

The Edmonton Metropolitan Region is one of the largest energy manufacturing hubs in North America. The region’s manufacturing capabilities and access to global markets make it the perfect place for RJ Maclean to be based.

“The Edmonton region is very focused on research and development,” says Kiely. “It’s very innovative here. There are not a lot of communities that are as focused on putting their heads down and challenging the status quo the way Edmonton is doing. There’s a collective willingness for innovation that translates into a global scale.”

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