Manufacturing company Nordic Minesteel Technologies was founded in 1993 as Minesteel Fabricators Limited by President and Owner Ron Elliot. In 2008, Elliot purchased Nordic Mine Technologies, an outfit that specialized in underground rail haulage, and the two companies amalgamated in 2014 to form what is now Nordic Minesteel Technologies Inc. (or the NMT Group).
The group became the parent organization for companies such as Specialized Maintenance Equipment (SME), a tool manufacturer and solutions provider for the international mining industry.
Marketing Coordinator for the NMT Group, Heather Johnston, recalls that in 2017 the original owner of Specialized Maintenance Equipment was having trouble keeping up with the demand for heavy-duty safety equipment in the mining industry. He reached out to Elliot for support and resources at that time, and the NMT Group immediately saw potential in SME, acquiring it soon after to expand its product offerings.
Vice President Richard DeRuiter remembers that when SME was first obtained, a diesel-powered jack was being developed: the SLT220. The NMT Group aided SME in developing and building two units and put them to work at high altitudes in the Andes in Peru. Based on what was learned from the diesel units, the path forward was to develop a similar product using battery power, as the industry slowly moved toward electric vehicles.
The next line of jacking systems after this, including the company’s signature Titan220e, was developed with battery power. Johnston has observed that over the past century, mining has transformed rapidly as production rates continually increase and trucks are larger than ever imagined.
Mine sites usually operate continuously, in extreme climates, so routine maintenance of these giant earthmoving machines is essential; however, the maintenance performed in the off-the-road trucking industry is both time-consuming and dangerous. There are numerous risks during the truck lifting process from lifting using jack extensions, running pneumatic hoses, placing additional safety stands, lateral loads, and falling debris. SME has developed products to provide better safety for the industry.
Johnston believes that the people working with SME have made it the company it is today. “We have a team of passionate individuals that have been developing their expertise in mechatronics for over thirty years,” she says. “They are driven by results and have the proven ability to identify breakthrough business opportunities in the industry.”
The companies in the NMT Group – including NMT itself, SME, and Schalke Locomotives GmbH – often collaborate with a team of experts from places like Germany and Chile. This gives the group the know-how to provide outside-the-box solutions that benefit safety, productivity, and the environment within the mining industry.
Johnston feels that the company’s customer service, plus its training and commissioning on the Titan220e, are some of its strong points. “When someone comes with a problem, they are grateful that they are being listened to,” she says. The company is passionate about eliminating risks in the industry and keeps a list of solutions that it is excited to provide to the industry.
DeRuiter says the company always does the legwork necessary to confirm that its products and components are of top quality and will be “as trouble-free as possible,” for its valued clients. Much time is spent speaking to the end-user who may be having challenges with existing technology and determining what they are looking for from a specific piece of equipment. For example, a great deal of research was done on the Titan220e to determine where an original equipment manufacturer’s lift points were, so that the Titan220e could lift trucks from these points instead of inappropriate sections. Johnston adds that, as part of the New Product Development process, all SME prototypes are tested in-field at a company facility in the western U.S. to see how they react under the conditions of the mining sector before being sent to the customer.
SME also fills two distinct roles in the supplier relationship: first, as a supplier to the end-user, where quality after-sales service and support are critical and can “make or break any company,” according to DeRuiter; second, it works very hard with suppliers to set up agreements in which there is no need for shopping around.
Supplier relationships are established early in any given agreement so that purchase orders can be issued. This is important in the mining industry because of the repetitive nature of manufacturing. SME works closely with the suppliers of its necessary tool components like batteries, drives, and control systems and researches them thoroughly. DeRuiter affirms that the company puts a lot of effort into the process, and this has paid off in spades thus far.
Heather Johnston notes that keeping up with the demand for new products in the industry is the biggest challenge currently facing SME and companies like it. The risks in the mining maintenance industry are not going away; the company must prioritize what solutions it can provide with the time and the people it has. The NMT Group leadership team holds a kick-off meeting to validate what is needed and adds time and people accordingly for each solution.
One member of the SME leadership stands out for his contributions. Global Product and Innovation Manager Wayne Desormeau is described by DeRuiter as a passionate and intelligent person who is recognized in the off-the-road (OTR) trucking industry. He has a “sixth sense for what the industry needs,” and his time with the company has been especially appreciated. Desormeau will be speaking at the Off-The-Road Tire Conference put on by the Tire Industry Association in Palm Springs, California this year.
DeRuiter confirms that SME will continue its focus on the production phase of the Titan220e for the remainder of 2020. It will also be developing two new products: a jack called the Atlas which is similar to the Titan but single-lift and smaller and a much larger piece of equipment which is currently in the preliminary stages and will be revealed “when the time is right.”
The Titan220e will also be featured at Mine Expo in Las Vegas in September 2020. It is a packed year for the company as it continues to make strides for the mining industry and further develop its much-needed product line, relying on the efforts of its valued team to keep it at the top of its game.