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Carriere Industrial unveils cutting-edge technology

May 28, 2014
by Norm Tollinsky
In: Technology

Buckets and truck bodies designed for wear resistance

Jean-Marc Valade, president of Carriere Industrial, left, and IT manager Pierre Levesque in front of Messer plasma oxy fuel cutting table with carrousel drill bit manager.

Carriere Industrial, a Sudbury-based company specializing in innovative wear solutions for buckets and truck bodies, is celebrating the completion of its most recent investment in production capacity.

The $4 million investment included the purchase of an 80-foot plasma oxyfuel cutting table with two state-ofthe-art Messer cutting machines on the same track, one of which is equipped with a 24-bit carrousel for drilling steel right on the table.

The drill head attachment eliminates the need to remove the cut steel from the table for drilling on another machine, said Carriere Industrial president Jean-Marc Valade. “We can now drill the holes right on the gantry, so it’s a lot more accurate.”

The new steel processing machines are housed in a 10,000-square foot addition to its Walden Industrial Park production facility, and integrated with overhead cranes and steel storage systems for safe and efficient transfer of material.

Carriere Industrial’s expansion, according to Valade, is largely attributable to the opening of several new gold mines in northeastern Ontario, foremost among them being Detour Gold’s large open pit operation 290 kilometres northeast of Timmins.

The authorized ESCO manufacturer of truck boxes for northeastern Ontario, Carriere supplies OEM replacement boxes for thirty-three 320-tonne trucks in the Detour Gold fleet.

“The OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) by nature supply a standard duty box or a heavy duty box, but they’re for all industries,” explained Valade. “What we do is tailor our designs to the actual, specific needs of the customer, which are different in every mine, depending on the abrasiveness of the rock, the mining method and the impact properties.”

OEM boxes have a useful life of 18 to 24 months, by which time “they’re in pretty bad shape,” said Valade.

“It’s not that the OEMs build a bad box. It’s just that we’re trying to provide a custom solution for a specific application, which OEMs don’t do because they’re serving a broader market.”

Aside from manufacturing replacement boxes for Detour Gold’s haul trucks, Carriere Industrial supplies ground-engaging tools, and rebuilds and redesigns shovel dippers and hydraulic face shovels for extended service life. It repairs and reconditions 64-cubic metre dippers and counts among its manufacturing achievements a brand new 24 cubic metre bucket for a hydraulic face shovel.

Carriere Industrial was founded in Cobalt, 215 kilometres northeast of Sudbury in 1968 and specialized in wear solutions for the surface mining operations of the Adams and Sherman iron ore mines. In 1983, the company opened a branch in Sudbury and consolidated its operations there when the two iron ore mines closed in 1988-1989. From that point onward, it focused on wear solutions for the underground operations of Sudbury area mines.

With Detour Gold’s startup, surface mining operations are once again an important component of Carriere’s business. The company is now expanding its horizons beyond Ontario with an office in Saskatoon to service the potash, coal and uranium mines of Western Canada, and a licensing agreement with Keech Castings in Australia to manufacture Carriere’s line of LHD buckets.

The downturn in the market forced Keech to put a hold on the manufacturing relationship, so Carriere is currently shipping buckets to Australia by container.

“We recently received an inquiry from Australia for 12 new LHD buckets, so we’re working on that proposal as we speak,” said Valade.

The company is also exploring the possibility of expanding its relationship with ESCO to manufacture truck bodies for the iron ore range in Labrador. A partnership with Ionic Engineering, another Sudbury mining supplier, has opened the door to yet another opportunity to leverage its expertise in wearresistant liners.

Jointly owned Variant Mining Technologies manufactures mining chutes, vibratory feeders and measuring boxes.

“Joint ventures are one way we’re looking at expanding,” said Valade. “There are a lot of good businesses in Sudbury and we try to work closely with them when we can. We sometimes cross lines in terms of competing, but whenever there’s an opportunity for a win-win, it’s to our advantage to try to work together. It helps everyone become stronger.”

The timing for the company’s investment in the plasma oxy fuel cutting tables was ideal given the strength of the Canadian dollar at the time and the accelerated writeoff available for the year in question.

“It has made us more competitive and more productive in the marketplace,” said Valade. “We’re in an expensive labour market compared to some other areas, so we need to incorporate technology into our manufacturing.”

“The funny thing about it is you invest in technology, and guess what, you hire more people because when you’re competitive, you can produce at a lower cost and you sell more.”

Since January 1, 2014, Carriere has increased its workforce 25 per cent and currently has 125 full-time and contract employees on its payroll.

The $4 million investment included a $1 million loan and grant contribution from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation.

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