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A Five-Star Underground Maintenance Facility

Author: Glencore Canada | Date: 23/08/2021

Having a five-star underground maintenance facility is no easy feat, and for Nickel Rim South (NRS), part of our Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations (Sudbury INO), it has been a longstanding commitment. For the seventh consecutive year, NRS has achieved the Caterpillar Certified Five-Star Contamination Control designation for an underground maintenance facility – and with a 100% score in years six and seven.

Caterpillar has developed a defined set of procedures that is backed by a formal auditing process to verify that a site is meeting the standards. Cat dealers and individual mine sites can earn “star” ratings based on their performance. The highest is a five-star rating, which indicates 95% or better compliance with the standards

For the seventh consecutive year, Nickel Rim South mine (shown above) has achieved the Caterpillar Certified Five-Star Contamination Control designation for an underground maintenance facility.

Culture and teamwork

NRS’ CAT 5 certification is the result of a strong corporate culture and the precise alignment of goals and priorities. On an individual level, each employee knows what is required and expected in order to arrive at common goals. Each department works collaboratively with every other to meet objectives. After seven straight years of noteworthy achievement, there is no questioning the level of personal ownership each employee accepts in the workplace.

“I am proud to be a member of our team,” says Shawn Sauvé, maintenance supervisor at NRS. “I routinely give tours to students, teachers, visitors from other Glencore sites and peers within our industry. I see this same pride in others every day and it is obvious to the visitors who provide positive feedback on what they observe.”

A past, present and future priority

In 2011/2012, during the construction of its world-class underground maintenance shop, NRS decided to focus on contamination control. Changing the misled industry conception that dirty, cramped, dark and damp underground mining facilities are not held to the same standards as those on the surface, NRS earned the first ever Caterpillar Certified Five-Star Contamination Control designation for an underground maintenance shop.

In addition to contamination control, other priorities for the underground facility included safety, quality and reliability, revenue opportunity, materials savings, and labour productivity improvements. Today, targets have been achieved and NRS is able to showcase its results in each of these areas year after year.

Taking on the challenge of Caterpillar’s five-star status was a commitment that could not be brought to fruition in just a few months, rather it was a multi-year project. One of the largest contributors to its success was NRS’ dedication to culture change.

I am proud to be a member of our team. I routinely give tours to students, teachers, as well as visitors from other Glencore sites and peers within our industry. I see this same pride in others every day and it is obvious to the visitors who provide positive feedback on what they observe.

Shawn Sauvé, Maintenance Supervisor at Nickel Rim South, part of Sudbury INO

Tim Hinds, NRS’s Maintenance General Foreman said communication is essential to the mine’s accomplishments. “There are a lot of good ideas out there,” he stated. “Knocking down the low-hanging ideas created an environment of trust and engagement, inspired creativity among the workforce, and allowed change to be embraced instead of resisted.”

The facility’s five-star rating is a result of years of obtaining and keeping operator buy-in, communicating precise actions to be taken on the job, setting expectations at the start of every shift, and conducting daily morning meetings to discuss critical safety measures and developing daily plans.

The rewards of such large efforts were seen after just three years. NRS took its audit scores from 23% to 96% (95% is required for a five-star rating). Key areas of success included increased component life, increasing planned maintenance work, reducing tire costs and decreasing the occurrence of injury on the job. In fact, Nickel Rim South mine won the prestigious John T. Ryan Regional Safety Award for a metal mine in Ontario for having the lowest reportable injury frequency rate in the province in 2017, 2014 and 2013.

Moving forward

According to Tim Hinds, now that NRS has achieved such a profound designation in the industry, the goal is never to lose it or let it drop. 

“We will keep auditing what we’re doing. We’ll learn from our mistakes, listen to our Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), get wisdom from everyone we can,” says Hinds.