Rockbolt manufacturer invests in robotic cell
Robotic welding cell produces bolts at a rate of one every 10 seconds
Jean-Guy Coulombe, president and CEO of Mansour Mining Technologies Inc., has a keen eye for safety, efficiency and business sense. He walks through the company facility in Sudbury and beams with pride as he talks to employees and inspects products. He can barely contain his enthusiasm for the work that goes under the company’s roof because he knows it is making a difference in the mining industry.
In September 2012, Mansour invested in a custom-built robotic welding arm to enhance and increase the output and safety of the company’s welded friction-set stabilizers (rock bolts). The robot was built by BOS Automation & Design, based in Dorchester, Ontario. Mining clients were demanding a better product and Mansour stepped up and got the answer and the better product they were looking for.
It was just another chance for the people at Mansour to show the industry they can continue to make a difference.
“The robot produces beautiful looking bolts,” Coulombe said. “It is a fantastic piece of equipment. It improves quality and efficiency. We had a client demanding it, and this is what we do in the industry – we meet demands. The industry expressed a need for a new head on these types of bolts and we responded.”
In the past, Mansour built the rock bolts manually with a hydraulic press to do the processing. It is a manufacturing process they continue today for other clients. It can be a slow and time-consuming process. Today, the automatic robotic welding cell produces bolts at a rate of one every 10 seconds. A belt feeds bolts into the robot’s working area. The robot then welds a ring in place at one end, completing two, 180-degree passes. It then spits out the new bolt and quickly begins constructing another one.
The bolts produced by the robot are stronger, create less waste material and provide a safer working environment for the operator who programs the robot.
“The quality is better,” Coulombe said. “There are lasers aligning and measuring material. There is less variation from bolt to bolt and that quality is repeatable over and over again. It is state-of-the-art. No one comes close to it. It even operates remotely. I could operate it from my home with my phone. It is quite the piece of gear. The bolts are not unique, but the quality is. We produce the most consistent bolts in the industry thanks to the robot.”
The stabilizers are used for wall and back support in underground mines. The robot can produce bolts in a variety of different lengths and in diameters of 33, 35, 39 and 46-millimetres.
“It’s a good bolt … quick and easy to put in and rather inexpensive,” Coulombe said. “We’ve been running since September of last year and the results are excellent. The robot can produce thousands of bolts every day, and it has more capacity than there is demand. We had it built with growth in mind.”
The bolts play a critical role in an underground mine by keeping miners safe from falling rock. Good bolts are vital to any mining company because if a bolt fails, an open section underground could not only collapse and cause fatalities, but also cost a fortune to clean out again.
Safety – both for the company’s clients and its own workforce – is a primary focus for Coulombe.
“We have the best safety record amongst our peers,” Coulombe said. “Automation is a way to remove man from harm and health issues. It’s about making a better product and doing it safer. Safety is priority number one in this industry. Customers pay attention to safety records. It becomes a selling point.”
Mansour sells ground support products across Canada and manufactures bolts in Mexico for the Central and South American market.