Inspek Crushing


Mar 19, 2013

Productive Komatsu machines, efficient staff contribute to success

When Mike Geleta founded his crushing business, he thought of several different name possibilities. Geleta finally settled on Inspek Crushing, which his wife, Sara, suggested because it was an apt description for what the company offers.

“When aggregate meets specified criteria, it’s considered ‘in spec,’ ” explained Geleta. “That name describes what we do.”

Inspek Crushing has been meeting specifications since Geleta founded the company in 2006. Two years later, he teamed up with Mark Spencer, who, as Vice President of Inspek, handles sales and major projects. Geleta is President and oversees day-to-day operations and other aspects of the business.

Geleta started Inspek after several years of contract hauling with his own fleet of dump trucks. One contract brought him to the Fort McMurray area to truck gravel for a local supplier for three days.

“That three turned into six days, and I really never left,” said Geleta, a native of Athabasca who came to Fort McMurray for that original job in 1998. “From the beginning, I had in the back of my mind that I wanted to get into crushing. I researched the equipment, the process and some other elements of the business and decided to go for it. Now, crushing is all Inspek does, and we hire out the trucking.”

Several sources

Strictly an aggregate supplier, Inspek gets virgin material from several sources, including its own pits. The company produces about 20 products that are used in the housing market; for infrastructure projects, such as road building and utility installation; and by oil companies on oil sands locations. Occasionally, the company also contract crushes.

“Most of the products we make are commonly used in the energy and construction markets, such as road base,” said Geleta. “But our customers often ask for very particular specifications too, and we’re always willing to meet them. One of our best attributes is that we can make adjustments very quickly. For instance, we may be making a product based on a customer’s specification, and they need to make a change to the specification. Our capabilities allow us to do that within minutes to a couple of hours, depending on the need.”

In addition to its own pits, Inspek Crushing mines and crushes material from a government-owned pit at Susan Lake, where other crushing contractors are also set up. It’s one of the largest pits in western Canada, conveniently located close to the massive oil sands operations around Fort McMurray that it primarily serves. Through the years, more than 50 million tonnes of material have been hauled out, with Inspek taking a significant portion.

“From this pit, we produce everything from sand to riprap rock,” said Vice President Mark Spencer. “We are capable of producing about 2 million tonnes per year, and we routinely come close to that figure.”

Spencer said Inspek generally shuts down for a couple months during the winter for maintenance. “Around the first of May, when our heaviest work load begins, we run two shifts a day, generally producing 5,000 to 7,000 tonnes per shift.”

Komatsu equipment minimizes downtime

The area of the pit where Inspek Crushing gets materials is approximately four kilometres long and 600 metres wide. At the site, Inspek operators use Komatsu PC350LC-8 and PC800LC-8 excavators to load HM350-2 articulated haul trucks that take the virgin rock to the crusher. Using Komatsu WA500-6 wheel loaders, operators feed the crusher, stockpile product and load trucks.

“Minimizing downtime is critical, because anytime a piece of equipment is not working it’s costing us and our customers,” said Spencer. “Fortunately, that’s not an issue with our Komatsu equipment. We’ve found it to be very reliable and productive, even in the toughest conditions.

“For example, the haul in the government pit is fairly long — between two and four kilometres from the area where we get material to the crusher,” he added. “When it rains, the low-ground-pressure Komatsu HM350 haul trucks handle the muddy conditions very well. Continued. . . We don’t have to shut down, so our production isn’t affected. In addition, the trucks are very fuel-efficient, and our operators like the comfort and speed.”

Inspek Crushing started adding Komatsu equipment to its fleet about two years ago, when it rented one of the WA500-6 wheel loaders. The company later purchased the loader and has continued buying Komatsu machines through SMS Equipment’s Fort McMurray branch with the help of Sales Representative Ivan Magdic.

“It took a while for us to try Komatsu equipment, because we were fairly loyal to another brand,” admitted Geleta. “Ivan kept calling on us, and eventually we decided to try a Komatsu wheel loader, which, in terms of our operations, is the heartbeat. It proved to be productive and reliable, and we’ve found that’s true with all our Komatsu products.

“One of the reasons we tried Komatsu was we heard good things about the service and support SMS Equipment offers,” Geleta continued. “That plays a big role in our equipment-buying decisions. They’ve lived up to that reputation and our expectations, especially Ivan, G.E.T. Specialist Chris Sturge and PSSR Chris Chartier. They have parts when we need them, and they respond quickly to any request we have. We’re very pleased.”

Long-term plans for a dedicated staff

In six years, Geleta has added more than 30 people to Inspek Crushing’s team, and he credits them for much of the company’s success. Key staff members include HSE Coordinator/Office Manager Nicole Wintonyk, Accounts Payable Kelly Krawec and Sales Coordinator/Accounts Receivable Debbie Chappell.

“I’m very proud of Inspek’s staff,” Geleta acknowledged. “Crushing is all about production and efficiency, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without people who can make those things a priority and a reality. They’re dedicated and loyal, and those attributes go a long way in my book. That’s why I’m working hard to put long-term plans in place for Inspek.”

With more than 50 million of the estimated 70 million tonnes of reserves at the government pit already gone. Geleta said Inspek is looking for other locations to supplement the pits it currently owns.

“We’ve already tested other places around Fort McMurray, Conklin and the Wabasca area. I’m confident that new aggregate sources will keep us busy and successful for many years,” he concluded.”