The FRP fascia is the red part above the Husky lettering.
The FRP fascia is the red part above the Husky lettering.
A fascia component being produced by resin transfer moulding.
A fascia component being produced by resin transfer moulding.
One of the composite parts.
One of the composite parts.

Husky Energy Inc is one of Canada's largest energy and energy-related companies, with almost CAN$16 billion in assets and approximately 4000 employees. In addition to its extensive operations relating to oil and gas production, Husky sells and distributes a full range of refined petroleum products through its Canadian retail network. A key element of this network is its 40 Husky Travel Centres, which are located across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.

FormaShape, a manufacturer of fibre reinforced plastic (FRP) products based in Kelowna, BC, was introduced to Husky Energy by a contractor who was sourcing column cladding for a Husky Travel Centre in Saskatoon. It was during the installation of this project that FormaShape's Engineering Manager Henry Czenczek noticed that the Travel Centre's architectural fascia was made from ribbed tin.

Czenczek knew that FormaShape could dramatically improve both the look and durability of the Husky outlet by creating a new fascia made from FRP, and set up a meeting with Roman Anisimovicz, Senior Staff Engineer for Husky's Retail Marketing Group. At this meeting, FormaShape was charged with developing a new FRP product to replace the existing fascia cladding for the building and gas pump canopies at Husky Travel Centres.

A single step solution

FormaShape uses the resin transfer moulding (RTM) process, which enables it to recreate any shape for the architectural application of FRP. Using this technology, FormaShape was able to create a solution for Husky which replaced its existing four-step solution – wooden truss installation, flat sheet installation, tin rib installation, soffitry installation – with just one. This one-step process greatly reduces the timeframe for installation and produces a more contemporary look. For a typical canopy, installation time was reduced from four days down to roughly one day.

In addition, FormaShape was able to demonstrate to Husky the durability of the FRP product. Resistant to the elements, vandalism, and wear and tear, the new product would have a life-span of at least two decades based on past experience of both waterslide and fascia products, much longer than the existing tin cladding.

Once the prototype had been approved by the Husky management team, FormaShape set about refining the design. The RTM process is extremely accurate at matching the specifications of the original design. Before this stage, the design is perfected by use of 3D computer imagery. In this way, FormaShape can work with the client to test run the design and make adjustments without incurring the cost of creating a new mould.

The composite fascia components are 4 ft long and there are 8 ft long top caps that cap the parapet wall and overlap the fascia panels by a small amount. The composite materials used in the project included glass mat supplied by Flemings, and polyester resin and gel-coat from Ashland. Paint was supplied by BASF.

So far, FormaShape has sold 556 fascia parts.

The fascia panels are attached to a plywood sheathed wall made of lumber, using standard wood screws.

The most current technology

The first Husky Energy Travel Centre to receive the new composite product was in Belmont, Ontario. The results were well received by both Husky and the Centre's customers.

“The original Husky design was comprised of metal cladding to cover existing structures,” explains Roman Anisimovicz, Senior Staff Engineer for Husky's Retail Marketing Group. “These tin fascias were large, difficult to install and expensive to maintain. Through collaboration with Henry Czenczek and the team at FormaShape, we were able to recreate the same Husky branding but in a smaller, modern and more efficient design. This FRP product has enabled us to substantially reduce the time it takes to remodel our Travel Centres. By application of its expertise, FormaShape has cut the installation time by at least 50%.”

As a result of the success of the Belmont Travel Centre installation, FormaShape has been contracted to bring its FRP image solution to other Husky Travel Centres across Canada. Anisimovicz sees the adoption of FRP technology from FormaShape as a natural progression for Husky, a company that prides itself on using the most current technology.

“At Husky we make full use of the most current technology at our locations, including touch screen, point-of-sale and pay-at-the-pump systems at most stations across Canada. The introduction of FormaShape's' FRP architectural solutions to our Travel Centres is another example of how new technology can be implemented to enhance the Husky customer's retail experience”, Anisimovicz adds.