Strategically located near major mining centres – Sudbury, Timmins and the Temiskaming region of northeastern Ontario – the Swellex manufacturing cell will not only better answer the needs of the North American customer, but will also assist in solving logistics challenges for the company.
Until now, Swellex bolts were manufactured in Austria and exported overseas to customers across North and South America. The new facility is positioned closer to the customer, and transportation services are as accessible as its own backyard – literally.
“The new plant has excellent docking facilities,” said Paul Germain, Atlas Copco’s Product Manager for Rock Reinforcement. “And Atlas Copco Exploration Products has a top-notch global distribution network, which is managed from the same building.”
The new facility houses a 20 by 100-foot Swellex manufacturing cell that cuts and forms the raw material, performs robotic welding and drilling and then tests the finished product. The bolts are then shipped from the North Bay facility to customers throughout Canada and the U.S. The bulk of the plant is producing exploration products such as drill rods, core barrels, drill bits and accessories, previously manufactured at the company’s smaller, McKeown Street location.
Swellex bolts are unique in the field of rock reinforcement and ground engineering. High-pressure water is used to expand the bolt to fill the hole, rather than chemicals or resins, which need to be mixed and require wait-time to dry. The bolts take no time to install, are extremely reliable and, because water is used, there is no environmental impact.
North American demand for the product will quickly consume the cell’s annual production capacity of one million bolts, but Germain says there is room to expand.
“The North American market is growing faster than anyone anticipated,” he said. “The plant was designed to accommodate a second cell to cope with growth in this market.”