CR goes underground with Keech acquisition

CR (formerly CQMS Razer) has been a key global supplier into the surface mining market for more than 40 years. With an acquisition of Keech Underground Ground Engagement Tools (UGET), CR is diversifying into underground mining.

CR designs, engineers, manufactures and supplies a full range of innovative ground engaging tools (GET) and digital software to major mining houses in all key mining regions globally.

Building on its experience in creating innovative mining and engineering software, CR takes on Keech UGET’s underground business, contracts and products, including the UGET WearPact, ArmourBlade and SNRG lines, with the acquisition.

The WearPact GET can be used in both underground and surface mining, while the SNRG and ArmourBlade ranges are designed specifically for underground load- haul, dump and bucket applications.

WearPact features dedicated wear indicators which make it easier for mine operators to see when teeth on machinery have worn to their limit, minimising the risk of injury by removing workers from underneath the bucket.

SNRG is a replacement part that can be implemented on some of the world’s most popular loaders and buckets, made from superior steel that provides maximum strength and wear resistance.

ArmourBlade is a bucket edge system, designed in a variety of shapes and sizes to be configured into many lip configurations on the market. The system dramatically enhances productivity and reduces downtime with its superior penetration performance.

WearPact, SNRG and ArmourBlade are three of the Keech products CR will offer by entering the underground market.

By combining the surface and underground mining businesses, CR chief executive officer John Barbagallo says the company will build on its existing product technologies and expand its reach worldwide.

CR chief executive John Barbagallo.

“Keech are a very respected company and we are delighted to partner with them and acquire their underground products and supply chain,” Barbagallo tells Australian Mining.

“Going forward, CR wants to build on what Keech has delivered in the underground mining wear products tool space.

“At the moment, retaining the existing CR and Keech customers and continuing to provide them with a high level of service is a key priority.”

With many of CR’s existing surface mining clients also having underground operations, the company is well positioned to service both markets.

CR prides itself on building deep and trusted relationships so it can design and alter its products to directly benefit the market it services.

“Product innovation and being agile is a core part of CR and nearly all of our opportunities to improve existing products or build new products comes from feedback in the field,” Barbagallo says.

“Having close relationships is absolutely critical to the future of the business, we are looking forward to taking Keech’s underground product range and designs, using our open cut experience to see where there’s opportunity to make product improvements.”

CR has identified wear performance of materials and productivity as two key areas it plans to focus on with both its customers and engineering team to improve on future designs.

Doug Wallis, CR head of engineering and innovation, has worked in and around engineering for 10 years. He is heavily involved with this process, creating advanced technological solutions to the resources sector and now, for the first time, the underground mining space.

“Although we always made tools and other related products that can translate into underground mining for the surface mining industry, we haven’t really delved into underground mining before now,” Wallis explains.

“The Keech acquisition has provided CR with this opportunity through its well-established products and history and excellent solutions, along with a customer base that suits the product.

“Our business has always been built on a DNA of being customer centric and we want to partner with our customers and work collaboratively with them on the solutions we bring to the underground market to ensure we are developing solutions that make sense to our customers and bring them value.”

Part of Wallis and the broader engineering team’s role is to understand the environment in which CR machinery will be used and be required to withstand for long life and minimal downtime due to unplanned maintenance.

This includes identifying the most appropriate designs and type of steel to use for product applications to ensure the best value cost of ownership in the long term.

“We’re a world leader in manufacturing cast wear products,” Wallis says. “While the products we sell in the surface mining space are slightly different to some of the underground mining machinery, the fundamentals of what steel to use and how to manufacture it are the same.

“We already operate in mining, so we have an excellent understanding of the challenges in the industry, it’s a super tough environment and the machinery is often heavy and bulky. We know how to make products that last and provide value for our customers.”

Despite the difference in underground and surface mining equipment, the key priorities of improved safety and productivity remain the same.

Both companies have aspired to design products with impressive safety features, such as secure mechanisms to attach products and multiple bolt-on and attachment points to keep workers out of harm’s way.

CR’s open cut solutions are already known and trusted by mining companies for providing complete coverage of different machinery and bucket widths and thicknesses, eliminating or reducing unplanned downtime.

As CR delves into the underground market, Wallis says recognising both the similarities and differences between the equipment and solutions required for this environment, versus surface mining, is essential to the company’s success in this space.

“We recognise that the needs of underground mining and surface mining are different, but underground and surface mines usually occur in the same places,”  Wallis says.

“While the way you operate is different, they are in the same locations and often face the same challenges when it comes to product wear. This allows CR to leverage our existing global footprint, relationships and supply chains to expand to this new market, and we are confident we can deliver the same value we do  in surface mining.”

This article also appears in the September issue of Australian Mining.

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