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Stephen Gravel  Manager of the Centre for Smart Mining, Cambrian College

Stephen Gravel

Manager of the Centre for Smart Mining, Cambrian College

Stella Holloway General Manager, MacLean Engineering

Stella Holloway

General Manager, MacLean Engineering

Established in 1967, the Cambrian College of Applied Arts and Technology offers over 80 full-time trade and technical programs across three Ontario campuses — Sudbury, Espanola, and Little Current/Manitoulin Island. With its main campus in Greater Sudbury — the mining capital of the world — it’s not surprising that Cambrian is a leader in research and development (R&D) in mining innovation. Small- and mid-sized businesses (SMEs) can tap into that innovation potential and grow their businesses by partnering with Cambrian R&D, the college’s applied research arm, and have access to funding, machinery, world-class facilities, and skilled workers.

Removing barriers to adopting smarter mining tech

The Centre for Smart Mining (CSM),  Cambrian’s Technology Access Centre (TAC) strives to remove the risks and barriers to adopting the new, cleaner smart mining technologies through partnerships focused on underground electrical vehicles, applied R&D, and customized technology upskilling. 

“Mining companies have traditionally been slow adopters of technology due to baked-in financial and operational risks inherent in the sector,” says Stephen Gravel, the CSM’s Manager. These risks include significant down time, personnel training, and integration into existing workflows — all of which are expensive. “Through proof of concept, pilot studies, prototyping, and customized technology training, the CSM hopes to de-risk these new innovations and make them more palatable for adoption and commercialization across the sector.”

The CSM’s areas of expertise include digital technologies, underground communications, green technologies, and battery-powered and -connected mining vehicles. 

Practical training for next-gen mining

MacLean Engineering, Canada’s largest manufacturer of underground mining vehicles, recently partnered with Cambrian’s CSM to support skills and technology development for the next generation of electronic, automated, and digitalized mining. This focus of this partnership is twofold — to provide practical training of heavy-duty mechanics to support battery electric vehicle (BEV) fleets and to accelerate development of MacLean’s on-vehicle technology through R&D.

MacLean will host the practical training component of Cambrian’s Industrial Battery Electric Vehicle Maintenance Course at the MacLean Training Facility in Sudbury. The course curriculum is being developed in part with MacLean’s technical input. For the R&D component, Cambrian’s mechatronics students will have the opportunity to work with the MacLean Advanced Vehicle Technology team — also at the facility.

“The desired outcome is for MacLean to hit product development timelines more quickly and become more competitive and for Cambrian to provide experiential learning opportunities for the students from various trades and technology programs and a pipeline of students with real-world skills ready for the job market,” says Gravel.

With MacLean’s high demand for talent in heavy-duty mechanics and mechatronics, the MacLean-CSM partnership will help meet ensure a steady supply of skilled workers and innovative thinkers in these disciplines.

“We’re sharing the ambition, vision, and passion necessary to help drive our common goal of ensuring that our industry has the necessary skills and knowledge required to operate and maintain BEVs confidently and safely,” says Stella Holloway, General Manager at MacLean Engineering.  

“As part of our continued commitment to support the industry transition to BEVs, we need to support our post-secondary educational institutions that have invested in training our skilled trades on new technology,” says Holloway. “Working together is the only way to build the workforce required for the future of mining where we realize safer, greener, and lower-cost, more productive operations.”

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