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DSI acquires Jenmar’s Canadian operations

November 26, 2014
by Norm Tollinsky
In: News

Transaction gives DSI manufacturing plants in Sudbury, Saskatoon and Sturgeon Falls

Highly automated manufacturing cells like the one above at DSI Underground’s Sudbury location are dedicated to production of a single product customized in accordance with customer specifications.

Highly automated manufacturing cells like the one above at DSI Underground’s Sudbury location are dedicated to production of a single product customized in accordance with customer specifications.

DYWIDAG-Systems International (DSI), a global manufacturer of ground support products, has acquired the assets of Jenmar Canada, including a 60,000 square foot plant in Sturgeon Falls, 90 kilometres east of Sudbury.

Also included in the acquisition was a manufacturing facility in Saskatoon, a distribution centre in Whitehorse, Yukon, and a location in Val d’Or, Quebec.

The former Jenmar location in Saskatoon will be closed and consolidated with DSI’s own 30,000 -square foot plant in the same city, while the Val d’Or centre is being consolidated with an existing DSI distribution facility in nearby Rouyn Noranda.

When all is said and done, DSI will dominate the Canadian ground control market with manufacturing facilities in Sudbury, Sturgeon Falls and Saskatoon, and distribution centres in Whitehorse, Yellowknife and Rouyn-Noranda.

“Sturgeon Falls is very much part of DSI’s future in Canada,” said Alan Henderson, Regional CEO, DSI Undergound Americas. “It will be our largest manufacturing facility in Canada and in time will be a ground support product super plant.”

Jenmar opened the Sturgeon Falls plant in 2008 to serve the Canadian market, but has been hit hard by the downturn in the U.S. coal industry, its primary market.

There is some duplication in the product mix of the Sudbury and Sturgeon Falls plants, but Sturgeon Falls manufactures friction bolts, which DSI imported from the U.S. or Chile, said Henderson. “There are a lot of things Jenmar did really well and there are a lot of things DSI does really well, so the combination of the two makes for a great story.”

Cellular manufacturing

However, some changes are underway in Sturgeon Falls to conform to DSI’s preferred method of flowing production.

DSI favours a cellular setup with dedicated equipment and employees manufacturing a single product, “whereas Jenmar did things a little more scattered,” resulting in a lot more movement of men and material within the plant, said Henderson.

An assessment of the operation is in progress and additional investments in equipment and processes will likely be made next year, he added.

DSI’s 43,000-square foot plant in Sudbury is a little smaller than its new Sturgeon Falls location, but stands out as a model of efficiency and quality production, said Henderson.

“We have locations all over the world and we’ve done a lot of acquisitions over the years, so I’ve seen a lot of other plants in South America, Australia and Europe. Sudbury is a race car in terms of manufacturing capability.

“Our business is volume driven, so we need to feed bar into our plants and get it out as quickly as we can. Sudbury is a great example of the efficiency of automation processes where you feed the machinery and come out with an end product. To be honest, it’s probably one of the best plants I’ve seen in the world.”

Sudbury

DSI built its Sudbury plant approximately five years ago following its acquisition of Ground Control (Sudbury) Ltd.

The location makes sense “because we like to be where our customers are,” said Henderson. “The Sudbury Basin is an important, strategic place to be. Our customers want to be able to pick up the phone and talk to someone local and we need to be able to react quickly.

“If you’re freighting steel, it doesn’t matter if it’s a finished product or just raw steel. The costs are pretty much the same, so it doesn’t matter where we are. (The transportation costs) are the same, but being in Sudbury, we can respond to customers in a matter of minutes.”

Sudbury’s extensive cluster of mining and industrial suppliers is an added benefit, observed DSI’s Sudbury branch manager, Kevin Cadieux.

“All the secondary service companies are here – the hydraulics companies, the electrical contractors – so when we need something, it’s available locally.”

Sudbury’s skilled workforce is another plus, noted Steve Laberge, who oversees quality management for the Sudbury operation.

Speed is important to race cars and ground control product manufacturers, but not at the expense of catering to the specific needs of its customers.

Much of what DSI produces has to be customized “because each mine has slightly different geological conditions,” said Henderson. “Some mines take six-foot bolts with one kind of accessory. Another mine will take eight-foot bolts with something different. Every mine in the world also wants their ground support products packaged differently, depending on whether they’re using a cage or driving through a portal.”

Aside from the six locations in Canada, Henderson oversees manufacturing plants and distribution centres across the U.S., Mexico and South America. DSI Underground, the division of the company serving the mining industry, was founded in 2000 as a spinoff of the construction side of the business, which traces its origins to 1867 and specializes in post-tensioning, geotechnical and stay-cable systems for bridges, skyscrapers, tunneling and ground stabilization.

The mining division leveraged DSI’s construction and geotechnical expertise and grew rapidly through acquisitions of smaller ground control product manufacturers around the world. Outside the Americas, DSI Underground also manufactures ground control products in Europe, Australia, South Africa, Russia and Indonesia.

Henderson describes the current state of the ground control business as “OK.”

“The downturn in metals pricing means mining companies aren’t doing as much development and construction underground, so there’s also a downward trend in the products we supply, but it will come back,” he said. “It’s the mining cycle. Once the prices start to come back and the mines are back in full gear, we’ll be ready.”

www.dsiunderground.com

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