Canada is one of the world’s most important suppliers of metals and minerals. In fact, according to the Mining Association of Canada, we’re among the top five countries worldwide in the production of 17 of these crucial materials, from potash, uranium, nickel, and cobalt to the rare earth elements like lithium and graphite that make a greener, more sustainable world possible. Minerals and metals coming from Canadian mines are valued around the world for production of products as diverse as buildings, electronics, toothpaste, vehicles, and solar cells.
As crucial as Canada’s mining industry is to the world, it’s just as important to Canada. Mining contributed $109 billion – 5% of the nation’s GDP – in 2019. That’s up from $87 billion just three years earlier. Likewise, this critical industry provides employment for some 719,000 Canadians – one in every 26 jobs. Mining provides exceptional income, too, with average annual per-job compensation above $115,000. While this critical industry has the potential to be hazardous, mining companies in Canada have maintained one of the safest jurisdictions in the world.
Mining is serious business in Canada. It’s important to our country, our citizens, and the world at large. There is a lot at stake, too – not just returns, income and GDP, but jobs, reputations, safety, the environment, and lives. For many years, Robertson Building Systems has been a proud partner in the Canadian mining industry. We understand better than anyone that in such a critical industry, with so much at stake, everything must not only be done on time, it also must be done right. It must be done to spec and within code, because it’s more than a matter of profit and loss – it can be a matter of life and death.
Robertson’s approach to its relationship with every industry is to become experts in its specific needs and requirements. Mining has heavy-duty specifications and requirements –all of which must be delivered on. As Robertson District Manager John Gelms explained, “The mining industry hires highly experienced consultants that review every aspect to the operation of every custom building and prepare a design and tender package of the building”.
Typically, a mining company doesn’t just need a building. They’re pushing back frontiers into remote parts of the country, where little infrastructure and support exists – but an endowment of subterranean metals or minerals beckons. “They have to build almost an entire town,” Robertson regional sales manager James Austin said, “setting up everything from water treatment centers, warehousing, hoist and processing buildings along with office buildings. Large machinery has to be warehoused.”
That new town needs to be built from the ground up. It needs to be built quickly and must be tough enough to stand up to climatic extremes, from negative 40°C in the winter to 30°C in the summer. Gelms pointed out that mining also requires taller buildings than other industries, “Process buildings or Headframe buildings are normally 80 to 100 feet tall.”
To put it in simple terms, mining companies need to erect a small, industrial town in remote parts of a challenging wilderness. They need it done efficiently, done right, and done in a way that can stand up to the rigorous demands of mining, its heavy-duty machinery and corrosive environments.
Metal construction has long been seen as an ideal answer to these challenges. “Metal buildings are very appealing because of the open concept,” Austin said. “They go up quickly.” With the inclusion of innovative products such as insulated metal panels (IMPs), this efficiency is further expedited. With a foamed-in-place core surrounded by heavy gauge steel, IMPs provide superior thermal properties and insulation, while providing air, water and vapor barrier in an all-in-one product which is installed in a single, simple step. “The insulated metal panel is a one-stop shop, which is very convenient to put up,” said Austin.
However, we’re fully aware metal construction isn’t the only player in the game. “The metal building is only one portion of the project,” Austin pointed out. “There’s all the other trades. The metal building is usually one of the first things that gets put up, so if there’s a delay in its schedule, you’re going to have a big problem. Mining schedules are extremely important,” said Austin. “Your specifications and timelines need to be met.”
With critical specifications and timelines, immense project size and scope – and a lot riding on all of it – mining companies can’t afford to take chances with fly-by-night or newcomer operations. They need a partner as old as the Canadian mining industry. A partner like Robertson.
Robertson Building Systems has a history with roots as old and deep as the timbers supporting Canada’s historic gold mines. We’ve been in the construction industry since 1863. “With its background and expertise, Robertson is able to look at these very customized specifications and drawings, interpret what is required and use its design software and expertise internally to provide a building that accommodates what’s required,” Gelms said. “Robertson has the expertise, the steel, they have the schedules, they have the right engineering team to be able to meet all the specs,” Austin added. “They get the price, they get the availability of the product, and they get the correct engineering and design of the product – which meets the specifications.”
Robertson delivers on every aspect of metal construction for mining. “We’ve got the structural fabricating plants,” Gelms said. “Our factories are certified as per CSA-A660, Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB) and IAS AC472. The IAS AC472 audit is a complete audit reviewing processes, quality and procedures for metal building manufacturers”. Robertson steel can also be made to withstand the harshest environments, with hot dip G-90 galvanizing on 8, 10 and 12-inch purlins and girts. Robertson’s structural steel can also be Hot Dip Galvanized or epoxy coated to withstand corrosive environments.
We’re ready meet every challenge Canada’s climate and the mining industry has – and to do it on time, in spec and with durability that’s sure to outlast us all. When you’re ready, get in touch with a Robertson representative.
It is not surprising that an overwhelming majority of people around the world said they were ready to move quickly into 2021 and leave behind all the memories of 2020. The start of a new year, however, brings a desire to look forward to new, emerging opportunities. With this in mind, we have developed a compilation of some of the current trends in the construction industry and some of the technologies and tools that seem to be here to stay.
1. Green Building: The movement has become so popular that energy and environmental design (LEED) leadership now certifies nearly 2 million square feet of construction space worldwide. Commercial offices claim the bulk of the green building market, with just over 20%.
2. Modular construction: With a completion rate that can be 20-50% faster, lower construction costs, and a significant reduction in errors and waste, it’s not surprising that more builders choose modular construction. The optimized manufacturing processes used in modular construction also reduce the approximately 135 million tons of construction and demolition waste each year.
3. Autonomous machines: We’ve all heard that autonomous cars will be certain in the future, but what about automated machinery on construction sites? This is what happens – and at faster paces than those built for the road. Look for stand-alone machines to become even more common throughout the construction industry.
4. Device communication: It’s not just phones and computers in the office. Increasingly, small, and large construction equipment is being wired to interact and communicate, bringing efficiency to the maximum, improving safety, and streamlining costs.
5. Wider use of renewable biofuels: Construction professionals industry wide are abandoning diesel as a source of electrical equipment. This trend could significantly reduce the industry’s carbon footprint in the future.
6. Electric utility vehicles: Just by switching to battery-powered electrical machinery, the construction industry could reduce its emissions by up to 95%. Improved charging solutions that reduce downtime, which have been one of the biggest barriers to switching, making the transition easier for many businesses.
7. Drones: They are used to gain visibility into progress on construction sites and now used as a proactive method to identify potential problems before construction begins.
8. Cloud-based BIM: Moving building information modeling to a cloud platform rather than on-site makes information available to all stakeholders in real time. Communication is more effective throughout each construction phase, with increased response time and greater ability to respond quickly to urgent situations.
9. Dimensions plus BIM: As the technology moves toward 4D, 5D and even 6D capabilities, companies will be able to significantly improve estimation and planning processes through better data access. With the ability to see geothermal, thermal, and acoustic properties, builders can be more proactive in planning and even use information to determine how these properties will affect a building before construction begins.
10. Increased use of artificial intelligence (AI): A growing number of companies are joining AI in promising to increase efficiency throughout the construction process – from materials production to design, planning and implementation. There are also many opportunities to use AI to streamline the distribution process, simplify price forecasting and optimize the logistics of transporting a job – all factors in reducing the time and costs of a project.
11. Augmented and virtual reality: The main advantages of these technologies in the construction industry is the ability to identify weak points in a structure before allowing on-site workers to significantly improve safety and reduce accidents. In addition, with the use of remotely operated machines used from remote locations, work may continue when adverse weather conditions could otherwise stop productivity or increase the risk of accidents.
12. Collaboration through Business Information Modelling (BIM): A company that adopts BIM also improves communications at all levels. BIM allows teams to work seamlessly, no matter where they are: people in the office can communicate with those on the site and even with those in another city or country, not only by phone, email or text message, but in a graphic and interactive way. Improved communication helps reduce completion times and work costs while improving overall quality.
13. Smart Cities: Construction and engineering team planning planners are increasingly working with city leaders to turn cities into “smart” cities. A smart city has strategies to increase the sustainability of its communities and to ensure that these communities are built for resilience during difficult times.
14. Declining profitability: The least positive trends in the industry is a decrease in the profitability of construction projects. This change is due to several factors, including increased competition in Asia, increased project complexity and growing supply chain issues. To compensate for losses, many companies are working diligently to improve their project management processes.
15. Public and commercial facilities as leaders in green buildings: as industrial expansion increases, commercial buildings are at the forefront of green building initiatives. This trend is reflected in almost every region of the world, with manufacturers implementing innovative solutions such as green roofs, living walls, passive solar design, recycled and sustainable insulation, direct current (dc) power and plant-based materials.
16. Strengthening green buildings in China: In recent years, China has entered the leading role in sustainable construction with more than 300 million square metres of green buildings throughout the country. China is notoriously quick to adopt and implement green building initiatives – and is expected to have more than half of the world’s ground space for green buildings by 2021.
17. Increased use of 3D printing: At a time when construction workers are in short supply, 3D printing helps fill some of the gap by automating many of the tasks that are usually performed manually. The benefits, however, are not limited to supplementing the workforce. 3D printing uses only the materials needed to print a structure, virtually eliminating waste, and reducing costs. In addition, 3D printers can operate 24 hours a day, allowing faster turnaround times and turnaround times.
18. Shortage of hourly workers: With labour shortage in the industry that has continued over the past decade, construction companies are struggling daily to limit the number of projects they can take and to increase the time it takes to complete the projects they begin. In response, many companies are finding that they are increasingly dependent on prefabricated and modular materials, which require less practical time.
19. Employment in the construction sector is on the rise: As mentioned earlier, the lack of artisanal workers has led companies to work harder to recruit employees, including by offering higher rates of pay and more incentives.
20. Increase in regulatory prices: The number of building codes applied has increased by almost 10% in recent years, which has inevitably increased the cost of construction. Many professionals are convinced that new codes and changes are not necessary and do not lead to productive results, resulting in a general sense of frustration within the industry.
21. Increased awareness of worker safety: Increased regulations have also been incorporated in the areas of worker safety. As a result, more construction companies are implementing technologically smart tools such as portable trackers and even work boots with sensors. Devices allow supervisors to track the location of team members, let them know when workers are tired or injured, and much more.
Taking into consideration the information above, Robertson remains steadfast to meet the ever-changing needs of building erectors and contractors. To find out more about how to keep up with current trends and stay above the competition, contact your local Robertson representative.