Expanding safety and quality at SMS

SMS Equipment in Elkford has built an expanded facility that provides a safer work space and the ability to better serve clients

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Management and employees at SMS Equipment in Elkford, B.C., are thrilled to be in a newly completed state-of-the-art facility. After first breaking ground in 2011, SMS moved into its new building in August of 2013 and hosted a grand opening to showcase the expansion.

“The expansion has two big components,” said Jim Prince, operations manager with SMS Equipment Elkford. “It’s a welding shop expansion and a parts warehouse and then there’s an office complex there as well. On the welding side, it’s a much safer environment now. We have state-of-the-art equipment, cranes and tools in there so that we can work safer. For the customer side, we have the opportunity to produce a much better quality product now for them because of the way we’re set up here.”

Building a great place to work

SMS Equipment’s new location has helped to create an improved place to work. A 100-ton crane, along with three 40-ton cranes and a mobile gantry crane, means that any of the equipment that comes into the shop can be more easily and more efficiently lifted.

In regards to stocking parts, SMS Elkford now has an automatic computer-controlled part stacker. This piece of equipment is 10 feet wide by 10 feet deep and 30 feet high and means the company will be able to maintain more accurate counts of what they have in stock.

A new paint shop is also a big improvement for SMS Equipment’s Elkford location. The company will begin using water-based paint, a contribution to helping keep the location more environmentally friendly. Both the paint booth and the welding shops have implemented impressive ventilation systems, another detail to make sure employees keep safe at work.

“We’re equipped with 20 of these Nederman ventilation arms,” said Prince, explaining an added detail of the ventilation system. “You can pull these out and bring them right to where you’re doing the welding and it pulls all the fumes out right away. We have very large air exchange equipment to keep the air changes per hour to where they should be but then these Nederman arms just make it even better because it just gets rid of the smoke right away.”

Investing in Elkford

SMS Elkford looks forward to continuing a strong partnership with the community and with Teck, the main industry in the region. The time was right for the expansion, said Prince, with land availability, market need and demand from the customer all falling into place. SMS Equipment’s Elkford branch employs about 175 people including welders, machinists, heavy-duty mechanics and electricians along with admin staff. Employees were part of a team effort in deciding on the design to ensure the expansion would serve the company effectively and with safety ever a consideration.

“All in all it’s a pretty amazing facility,” said Paulette Ashton, branch analyst with the company. “There was a lot of thought that went into this . . . They don’t build these sorts of facilities without the intention of being here for a very long time.”

“We’re just looking forward to using all of this really nice equipment,” added Prince. “And, personally, I’m looking forward to quality improvements in our product and service to the mine that this is going to provide.”

Kristen Mitchell

Kristen studied at College of the Rockies in Cranbrook and has worked in a variety of industries, from agriculture to construction, retail to restaurants. She now brings her understanding of the area to Kootenay Business magazine. View all of Kristen Mitchell’s articles

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