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Companies pool talents for explosives industry

February 21, 2018
by Norm Tollinsky
In: News

Stainless Steel Technology, Paige Engineering design and manufacture trucks for delivery of explosives

Stainless Steel Technology of Sudbury and Paige Engineering of North Bay have partnered to manufacture 10 highly specialized explosives delivery trucks for Austin Powder and Nordex Explosives.

Having demonstrated expertise in manufacturing highly specialized explosives delivery trucks, Stainless Steel Technology of Sudbury and Paige Engineering Limited of North Bay are now weighing the possibility of marketing their combined capabilities to the wider North American explosives industry.

Since 2012, the two companies have manufactured nine explosives delivery trucks for surface use – six for global explosives manufacturer Austin Powder and three for EPC Nordex of Kirkland Lake. The two companies have also partnered in the past to manufacture two trucks for underground use.

It’s an ideal partnership. John Paige, who has a long history in the global explosives industry, provides the engineering, while Stainless Steel Technology does the fabrication.

Until the two companies began manufacturing explosives delivery trucks, explosives manufacturers serving the Canadian market imported trucks from the U.S. However, stricter standards in Canada meant that they had to be modified to conform to code.

Manufacturing locally for the Canadian market made sense and the lower value of the Canadian dollar didn’t hurt. Impressed with the quality of the trucks manufactured by Stainless Steel Technology and Paige Engineering, Austin Powder recently engaged the Northern Ontario partners to manufacture their first truck for the U.S. market. It will be the 10th highway explosives delivery truck manufactured by the two companies.

“We had to be certified to build these units,” said Brad Greasley, president of Stainless Steel Technology. “It was a big investment and a lot of work to get to that level, but it was worth it. It’s a niche product, but it’s a market we think we can grow.”

The two companies start with a truck platform and add the tanks, the pumping system and the computer controls. The trucks vary in size depending on the application and are designed to meet Canadian standards for operation on public highways. The surface trucks manufactured to date carry 12 tonnes of emulsion for use in quarries, construction projects and surface mining.

“The trucks have to be designed to handle rollover,” explained Stainless Steel Technology quality assurance manager Rob Ligi. “A product spill would be one thing. Having an explosive product getting exposed and subsequently blowing up would be unacceptable, so the calculations for the design are very stringent.”

Aside from the main stainless steel, heavy plate tank containing emulsion explosives, the trucks are equipped with three other tanks – two containing a gassing solutions and another containing water. The gassing solutions sensitize the emulsion upon discharge into the blasthole.

“We detonate from the bottom of the hole where there is a detonator and a booster,” said Paige. “It has a big energy charge that kicks off the explosion. A shockwave comes up and compresses the gas bubbles. As they compress, they give off heat, allowing the explosive reaction to proceed up the borehole. If you didn’t have the gassing reaction, it probably wouldn’t detonate all the way up a 50-foot hole. It would burn but not explode.”

“Water is introduced into the 250-foot, one-inch diameter hose to lubricate the flow of the emulsion,” said Paige.

“Because of its grease-like consistency, it would have to be pumped at thousands of pounds per square inch, which we’re not allowed to do because of safety concerns. A computer control system makes sure that the ratios of the ingredients are correct.”

Looking to the future, Paige hopes to also win orders for smaller explosives delivery trucks used for road construction and larger, 18 to 20-tonne capacity trucks.

Stainless Steel Technology is best known for designing and manufacturing skips, cages and pressure vessels for the mining industry, while Paige Engineering also designs explosives manufacturing equipment for both the Canadian and international markets.


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