Industry boom sparks demand for drills
BY HEIDI ULRICHSEN
It's not just the unprecedented boom in the mining industry that has fueled the sale of Terex rock drills.
The company is also benefiting from the demand for drills from pipeline construction in western Canada and numerous highway construction projects.
“Business has been excellent. Anyone who is not finding these times exciting should not be in this business,” said Jim Laroche, Terex regional manager for Canada.
The third largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment in the world, Terex manufactures jumbo rock drills for the global market at its plant in Sudbury.
The drills are sold under the Terex Reedrill name, hearkening back to the 1990s when the Sudbury plant was owned by Reedrill Inc.
The operation was also briefly owned by Metso Minerals, but was bought by Terex in 2004. The company has sold drills to customers in Australia, Indonesia and Peru, as well as to mining and construction companies across Northern Ontario.
Terex drill products are currently being used in the four-laning of Highway 69 (the highway connecting Sudbury and Toronto), as well as the development of Xstrata Nickel's new Nickel Rim South mine.
The Sudbury Terex office offers 24/7, 365 day-a-year after market support for customers requiring parts or service.
Thirty people are employed there, including 10 who were recently hired to keep up with the boom in business.
Terex also manufactures shovels and trucks in Fort McMurray, Alberta, and operates a service centre in Edmonton, Alberta.
“Being in Sudbury allows us to be close to our customer base,” said Laroche.
The large cluster of mi-ning supply companies located in the Sudbury area makes it easier for Terex to buy parts needed for manufacturing, he said.
Several new products have recently been introduced to make the lives of drill mechanics and operators easier.
The MK 7, a two-boom electric hydraulic jumbo drill, was built after Terex surveyed 173 mining companies from across North America.
The company has already sold seven of the drills and is currently filling orders for another four.
“From a safety standpoint, a man doesn't have to climb up on an oily, hot machine. He doesn't have to be a contortionist to get in to fix a valve. Everything is located on the outer extremities of the machine,” said Laroche.
“From the operator's point of view, we did a lot of work rubber-suspending the driller's compartment so that vibrations are taken out of the machine. He can be sitting or standing and still have the same viewpoints from the bottom to the top of the face.”
The MK 7 can be easily converted to a computerized system so it can run without an operator physically sitting on the machine. With other drill manufacturers, such conversions are not possible, said Laroche.
This year, Terex developed the MK 4, a mini jumbo drill with both electric and diesel capability. Already, the company has received four orders, including one from a customer in Peru.
Terex has developed three new types of shaft drills that are easier for mechanics to service.
Several of these drills were bought by Cementation Canada, a North Bay company contracted by Xstrata Nickel to sink shafts for the new Nickel Rim South mine in Sudbury.
There has also been some interest in the new shaft drills from overseas companies.
Laroche said he likes his job because of the constant challenge of developing better drill products.
“I enjoy conversations about designing new products, and the challenge of making things easy for our people and our customers.”