January 08, 2015

An Irish Blessing

Céad míle fáilte means 100,000 welcomes in the Irish-Gaelic language. And sure'n we received at least that many a warm greeting when we called on the Bailey brothers and their extended family of operators, foremen, and managers. Join us way up north in Newfoundland, "the other Ireland," as contractor Guy J. Bailey, Ltd., Deere equipment, and the b'ys toil to mine a pot of gold — and then some.

While growing up in Newfoundland, Canada, Guy Joseph Bailey was adept at finding ways to earn money. While still in grade school, he launched a life of entrepreneurial pursuits with a bicycle-restoration business. He went on to run a much-needed bus service from Grand Falls to the small mining town of Baie Verte (pronounced bay vurt). Which led to his taxi and school bus service. And his service station and auto-parts businesses. And Guy J. Bailey, Ltd., a contractor providing equipment, operators, and trucking services to the Baie Verte mining industry.

All this and a growing family. Good thing, too…

Thankfully, Bailey had a secret weapon — a brood that included three boys: Ivan, Scott, and Kent. Beyond his business smarts, the senior Bailey relied on his boys to learn the many tools of many trades to help run the family businesses. In return, they were rewarded with the gifts of a strong work ethic and keen problem-solving skills.

By the time the elder Bailey signed his company over to his sons, the asbestos mine had been abandoned — a victim of a ban on the sale of products made from asbestos fibers. The Bailey boys made the best of hard times by buying some old trucks from the defunct mine, fixing them up, and turning Guy J. Bailey into an over-the-road trucking outfit. Kent and Ivan headed out to seek their own fortunes in Alberta's oil-and-gas boom while Scott stayed put.

A golden opportunity

It was touch-and-go for Scott Bailey at first, until word of his problem-solving skills reached a large gold-mining concern in Greenland. They had a tanker full of ore docked off the Baie Verte Peninsula with contents that had settled into a stubborn unmovable mass during passage. Bailey lowered a light 8-metric-ton John Deere excavator into the ship's hold and loosened the packed ore so a crane could lift the precious cargo. Problem solved, reputation made.

Word of his skills must have made an impression on Anaconda Mining, Inc. in Toronto, because when they needed trucks, excavators, dozers, graders, men, and logistics for the gold ore digging and hauling operations at their new Baie Verte Pine Cove Mine, Bailey was called in to pitch and win the business.

Big. Bigger. Biggest.

"When you compare the Deere lighter-bodied ADT with your typical stake-bodied mining truck, well, there's just no comparison — right, b'ys?," our new bud and Bailey Field Super Peter Goudie tells and asks us. "We've dropped our cost per-ton because we're hauling more ore, and not so much truck — that's one of the benefits the 460's payload-to-weight ratio delivers."

According to Scott Bailey, the journey from traditional trucks, to Deere articulated dump trucks, to one of the largest ADTs on the continent has been a gradual and fruitful one. "We started out a couple years back with Deere 300Ds, and saw the drop in fuel expenses and rise in cost-per-ton savings immediately. We then upgraded our fleet to 350Ds, then 400Ds. And as soon as Deere offered the 460E, we purchased five of them and they have been outstanding. Five 460Es can haul as much as eight of our 400s could — together, they move some 225 tons of ore per cycle — that's big productivity."

Bailey attributes some of the Pine Cove Mine project's ongoing success to his partnering with Nortrax. "Our Deere dealer is very important to the operations here. Their representative, Chris Elliott, is quite good at listening to our needs and responding with the best equipment to boost our productivity while reducing our cost-per-ton. In other words, our dealer does for us what we're dedicated to do for our customer, Anaconda Mining."

Bigger loads + faster cycles - 3 additional trucks, operators, and maintenance = lower cost per ton

According to Deere, and confirmed by the crew at Bailey, the 460E's massive productivity gains and cost savings go well beyond how much material can be hauled in a single cycle. "It's one smart truck," says Goudie. "It's light in weight so you're using fuel to move your payload, not your truck. It has an eight-forward, four-reverse gear, six-wheel-drive transmission — including a high-speed reverse gear that lets you back up at 17 km/h (11 mph).

"And with its auto diff-lock, it moves quicker and with better traction than any truck we've ever experienced." Apparently, when you're working on twisty mining roads in an area with an average annual snowfall of almost 400 cm (157 in.), you value a truck with such stick-to-itiveness.

Goudie then puts numbers to the comparative lightness of the Deere 46-ton ADT high-alloy-steel dump-body truck versus a competing 40-ton articulated-frame truck. "The 460E weighs three tons less. And even when both trucks are filled to capacity, with the 460E hauling six tons more, it does so at a fuel savings of 10 to 15 percent over the 40-ton.

"Also, Anaconda Mines is a very environmentally conscious company, so we like the fact that these trucks have very clean-running Interim Tier 4 engines that are able to regenerate without any loss in power or performance."

Scheduled maintenance in half the time

"Where ya at, skipper?" asks Head Mechanic Kirk Martin. "This is it, b'y," we reply, trying lamely to speak the local lingo. "We just wanted to know what you think of the 460Es." "I like 'em fine, skip, because they're very easy to work on. Our last trucks, the Deere 400Ds, took five to six hours for us to perform 500-hour maintenance — not bad, but these 460Es take three, three-and-a-half hours, tops."

Let's see…that's a savings of three hours' time at current shop rates…add in the profits of three additional hours the truck is literally hauling in the gold instead of sitting in the shop, multiply times the number of trucks in the fleet…and that adds up to…well, no wonder they bought five of 'em.

The fine art of listening

We'll leave the last word for Mr. Goudie. "This is a customer-designed truck. Deere had a Customer Advocate Group made up of mining and construction company owners, mechanics, managers, and operators who had input into every feature of this ADT: the payload-weighing system, programmable dump-body settings, the eight-forward/four-reverse transmission built specifically for this machine — the list of unique and beneficial standard features goes on and on. By listening closely to those who do, I believe Deere has built the ultimate ADT on the market today."