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MacLean opens doors to R&D facility, shows off latest mining innovations

MacLean has opened the doors to its Research & Training Facility in Sudbury, Ontario, for the first time since acquiring the underground R&D lab in 2018.

The company welcomed industry VIPs to tour its facility and get behind-the-scenes access to the range of MacLean product development spanning mobile equipment electrification, automation and digitalisation.

Guests had the chance tour the ‘Ducky Decline’ to get demonstrations of MacLean ground support installation robotics, as well as video remote control for the secondary reduction application in the underground mining cycle. In addition, the open house also provided the chance for visitors to get up close with a battery-electric version of the company’s latest model of shotcrete sprayer – the SS5 with Quickscan thickness imaging (graphic below) and Chemsave accelerant savings technologies – as well as the latest addition to the MacLean Utility Vehicle product line – the GR5 Grader – purpose-designed for the rigours of the underground environment.

“The pandemic didn’t set us back in terms of pushing forward with product development, but it did force us to delay being able to show the mining world just how much of an innovation engine this underground facility truly is for us,” MacLean President, Kevin MacLean, said. “I was thrilled to be there with Don this week to welcome everybody and deliver the message in person: MacLean is committed to investing in paradigm-changing mining vehicle innovation that helps make the industry safer and more productive.”

Stella Holloway, MacLean Vice President of Northern Ontario Operations, added: “Our Research & Training Facility is also an active collaboration space with the broader industry, through our existing training partnership with Cambrian College’s Centre for Smart Mining and the great work we’re doing training the next generation of mine worker. Now that we have the ability to open our doors and show, not just tell industry colleagues what we’re doing as a mining innovators, it feels great – I look forward to this type of in-person dialogue getting reinstated and ramping up in the months and years to come.”

Maarten van Koppen, MacLean Vice President of Product Management, said the company was cognisant that there are hurdles to broader adoption of electrification, automation and digitalisation across the global mining industry, but he stressed that the upside benefits meant the effort was worthwhile.

“That’s why having this facility is so critical to our ability to deliver mobile equipment solutions that not only solve today’s problems, but also create the foundation for the next generations of mine design and operations around the underground mining globe,” he said.

David Jacques, MacLean VP of Engineering, stated: “The company as a whole persevered through the pandemic to get rigs designed, built, shipped and commissioned, which wasn’t always straightforward. It’s why they call it ‘innovation’ – not just continually improving the way things are currently done, but also asking: is there a different way to tackle this problem that will deliver paradigm-changing safety and productivity dividends? This is how we think at MacLean, and the Research & Training Facility allows us to put that philosophy into action.”