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Sudbury Mining Solutions


Culture of innovation keeps Ionic at forefront

September 1, 2011
by Scott Haddow
In: News with 0 Comments

To Steve Matusch, president of Ionic Engineering Limited in Sudbury, Ontario, there are no boundaries.

“People come to us when they can’t find something on the market, but know it can be done,” he said. “They want a company that can dream up something new and build it and make it work. Everything we do at Ionic Engineering is a new development. The fact we do this time and time again, and year after year, with success speaks to the calibre of our people working here.”

Ionic Engineering specializes in the design and manufacturing of automated machines and systems and industrial robots for heavy industry and other industries such as automobile manufacturing.

Ionic Engineering supplies automated systems to companies across the globe. It is one of only three companies in the world that supply these kinds of services and the smallest company of the three with 55 employees.

Copper stripping system

In May, Ionic announced the successful completion of shop acceptance testing for the first of their new line of high capacity copper stripping systems – engineered and manufactured by Ionic for Xstrata Technologies and marketed worldwide.  The new system leapfrogs prior and competing technologies in compact design, reliability, reduced power consumption and production throughput. The system was delivered to Yunnan Tin Copper in China in mid-July. It will be in service in October once Ionic commissioning personnel train the Chinese workers to operate and maintain it.

It is a substantial piece of equipment, weighing 140,000 pounds and is 100 feet by 100 feet in size.

“It’s our latest and greatest and it is a big machine,” Matusch said. “It is our most advanced in all technical ways. It is faster, smaller, lighter, safer, more reliable and uses less power.  We did this with advancements in technologies. It’s a follow-on to a product we developed in 2004. This is the new generation. We’ve been quite aggressive with the applications of robotics and servos and bringing them in to traditional mining applications. I am not aware of anyone in the world faster than us in that regard. We know we have a lot of other customers watching and waiting to see how the new generation performs.”

Advanced technologies have helped Ionic push the envelope in what it can do for heavy industry with the new generation stripping system, but it is only one half of the equation for Ionic’s success. The approach to the business the engineers take and, more importantly, their collective embrace of continuous improvement are determining factors for their success.

“We’re also aggressive on not sitting on our laurels,” Matusch said. “You have to continually improve and make your products better – we’re providing products that are fairly rapidly evolving and we’ve had good success with it. We have a core of bright, enthusiastic engineers who are committed and embrace this and aren’t afraid to improve. The biggest thing is we have an innovative culture here and everyone thrives on it.”

A few years ago, the company opened an engineering facility in Cambridge, Ontario. This year, an expansion to bring the facility up to 18,000 square feet was completed so the southern Ontario facility could begin manufacturing. In late July, the new facility began assembling another copper stripping machine, a suitcase manufacturing line for a Czech Republic company and other projects in the steel and automotive industry.

“About 10 months ago, we decided to take the leap and establish a full manufacturing facility down there. We needed additional capacity and it was a logical place because we already had the engineering office down there. Mining is cyclical. Four years ago, we knew we had to diversify ourselves more.”


Back in the spring, Matusch was informed he earned the 2011 Ontario Professional Engineers’ Engineering Medal for Entrepreneurship. He will receive the award in November at an awards gala in Mississauga.

“I didn’t expect it,” he said. “I don’t think this award was given to just me. It’s for all the people who built this business. I’m a Sudbury boy and proud of it. It is a vindication that a group of people in Sudbury can build a business here and compete against the world. We have proven our people have the mettle to compete against the best in the world. I am proud of that.”


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