Mining equipment provider MacLean Engineering intends to build the next 50 years of Maclean mining vehicle innovation on the three pillars of electrification, automation and digitalisation.
The company’s current push, explains Africa GM John-Paul Theunissen, is on expanding the MacLean electric vehicle (EV) series’ footprint outside of the Americas and bringing its fleet electrification to Africa and Australia as diesel-free underground mining continues to ramp up around the world.
“This, combined with new product releases in recent years, such as the SS5 shotcrete sprayer, the GR5 underground grader, the MC5 explosives charger, the ML5 multi-lift, and the BP3 mobile batch plant, will constitute our market focus for the coming year,” Theunissen says.
This approach, he explains, builds on the company having served its customers for almost 50 years – a time during which the company has cemented deep relationships with mining companies, contractors, host communities, and indigenous joint venture partners in domestic and international markets.
“Over the years, we have been closely working with our customers and understanding their requirements, developing advanced technological solutions to enhance productivity, safety and cost savings - what we call the ‘Application Intelligence’,” he adds.
Application Intelligence, he explains, represents the potential contained within the overlap of fit-for-purpose mobile equipment manufacturing, on-vehicle technology development, and deep knowledge of the mining cycle.
“It is the driving ethos behind the electrification, automation and digitalization efforts that continue to evolve the MacLean mining vehicle product lines spanning the ground support, secondary reduction and utility vehicle categories.”
The company’s fleet electrification initiatives include the 2016 introduction of the MacLean EV Series of zero emissions/DPM, low maintenance, low heat, low noise, data-rich, high performance mining vehicles - a product development milestone for the company.
Since then, MacLean has manufactured and commissioned more than 50 battery electric vehicles working across three continents, with more than 120 000 operating hours of proven performance in the underground environment.
Commenting on the support MacLean provides its customers in Africa, Theunissen notes that the company has a support structure set up in South Africa to support customers throughout Africa.
This consists of branch and warehouse facilities together with technical support ranging from field service and product support to engineering support.
The company also recently invested and expanded the branch infrastructure, providing the ability to not only support the equipment on the continent but also manufacture and assemble MacLean equipment in country with the drive ‘Made in Africa for Africa’.
MacLean believes this is what further sets the company apart from competitors as these skills are now being developed in country as well.
In addition, and commenting on the post-Covid-19 environment, Theunissen says that apart from shutting down the company’s production facilities for two weeks at the start of the pandemic, to evaluate worker safety mitigation measures required in the plant environment and then implement the resulting plan, “MacLean navigated the myriad of Covid-19 challenges without a significant interruption to their manufacturing and aftermarket activities”, which Theunissen adds is “a testament to the company’s global infrastructure of branches providing in-country technical and site support”.
“The fact that the mining sectors in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec were classified as essential and therefore exempt from many public health shutdown requirements, meant that our manufacturing and customer support activities in our sales and support hubs could continue, although not without considerable challenges,” he notes.
Customer demand for MacLean mining vehicles has remained solid throughout this period, which Theunissen remarks is “not surprising” given the long timelines involved in exploring, evaluating, designing, procuring mobile equipment, developing, and then operating an underground mine.
MacLean specializes in mobile equipment solutions based on underground mining experience, unit-of-one manufacturing expertise, and worldwide customer service and support.
“We have been innovating for mining equipment safety and productivity for almost 50 years, supporting customers worldwide with branches across Canada as well as in the United States, Mexico, Peru, South Africa and Australia,” the company confirms.
The company builds a comprehensive suite of engineered solutions for full-range support of the mining cycle across all underground mining methods, including block cave mining.
MacLean’s product suite includes platform and utility bolters, shotcrete sprayers and transmixers in the ground support category; remote-operated drills, mobile rock breakers and water cannons in the secondary reduction/ore flow category; and, Mine-Mate scissor lifts, boom trucks, ANFO/emulsion chargers, personnel carriers, fuel/lube trucks, cassette trucks, graders, fan and pipe handlers, and service drills in the utility vehicles and attachments category.