Iron North


Dec 6, 2011

Komatsu equipment stands up to harsh conditions

Just north of Split Lake, one of Manitoba’s largest sewer and water projects is underway to build a 600-metre by 400-metre lagoon designed to hold water and supply it to the town. Three companies — Cree Construction & Development Company (CCDC), United Cree Construction (UCC) and Ininew Limited Partnership (ILP) — teamed up to perform the work, with CCDC acting as general contractor.

The project includes installation of about 4,000 metres of 300-mm force main, running from the lagoon to the outskirts of Split Lake, where it will be picked up and connected to the town under future development. CCDC is performing lagoon construction and piping work, while UCC takes on shoreline protection of the lagoon. ILP is owned by two First Nation bands — the Tataskweyak Cree Nation (TCN), which handles project management, and Moose Lake.

Much of the three companies’ work force comes from the TCN band, which also formed Iron North a few months ago. Iron North is an equipment-leasing company, supplying the heavy machinery needed to complete the nine-month project by the end of October.

“The TCN membership as a whole has a key stake in Iron North,” explained Councillor Mike Keeper. “The success of the company directly benefits the band. The majority of Iron North’s employees are local TCN, and we’re very proud of that.”

“We’re working on the first phase of the development, and we hope to be involved in the second phase,” added ILP President Jack Braun, who’s overseeing the entire project as Project Manager. “This is a huge undertaking, as about five hectares had to be cleared before excavation could start. When it’s done, more than 300,000 cubic metres of material, including bedrock and sand, will be excavated. A liner will also be installed in the lagoon.”

SMS and Komatsu follow through

The Iron North founders want to be known for supplying quality equipment that will ensure the Split Lake project and other future projects are delivered on time and on budget. That’s why the company turned to SMS Equipment’s Winnipeg branch and Territory Manager Neil L’Heureux.

“We face some challenges here, including extreme weather conditions, difficult soils and a remote location,” said Braun. “Having equipment that can work in a harsh environment and not break down is vital. Our joint-venture partners use Komatsu, so we know it’s quality, dependable machinery.”

That knowledge prompted Iron North to purchase three excavators — two Komatsu PC200LC-8s and a PC300HD-7 — as well as HM400 articulated haul trucks, a D51PX-22 dozer and a WA320-5 wheel loader.

“We’re seeing that the decision we made to go with Komatsu was a prudent one,” confirmed Kondratuk. “I’m especially impressed with the PC300HD (heavy duty) and how well it performs. We bought a pre-owned unit, and it now has about 3,000 hours on it, yet it has been trouble-free. We’re seeing the same reliability and production out of our other Komatsu machines.”

Iron North did have an issue with one of its new excavators, but it was resolved quickly. “We needed an arm replaced, but it was under warranty,” explained Braun. “SMS and Komatsu resolved it right away. We’re impressed with their parts availability and how quickly they respond if we need something. That’s not always easy because we’re located rather remotely from the Winnipeg branch.”

“Another thing we’re pleased with is the K-Max teeth on our buckets,” noted Kondratuk of the bolt-on tooth system that’s engineered by Hensley, a Komatsu-owned company. “SMS showed us the advantages of it, and we’re very pleased. It’s more durable, especially digging in rock. SMS and Komatsu have sterling reputations, and they’ve certainly lived up to them.”

A bright future

Developing their own sterling reputation is something Iron North is actively working to achieve.

“This project is a good first step, and we want to expand on that,” confirmed Braun. “We’re here to provide the resources companies need to achieve their goals. Some large hydro projects are coming up, and we hope to be involved in them. We believe the future is bright for Iron North.”