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NORCAT opens Timmins facility

The Northern Centre for Advanced Technology (NORCAT) is spreading its reach.
Ken Stewart (left), manager of the new Timmins location of NORCAT, shakes hands with Jean-Pierre Nadon, the director at the Timmins campus of Collège Boréal. Sudbury-based NORCAT has opened a Timmins location at the college in order to deliver its health and safety training.

The Northern Centre for Advanced Technology (NORCAT) is spreading its reach.

The Sudbury-based training and innovation centre is opening a satellite office in Timmins in order to more efficiently offer health and safety training and programming to industry clients. From its location at the Timmins campus of Collège Boréal, NORCAT will serve businesses in the immediate area and along the Highway 11 corridor.

Helming the new office will be Ken Stewart, a mining-industry veteran with 29 years of experience. He took over the role in February, and the office will officially open its doors in October.

Recently retired after spending 25 years with Barrick Gold, Stewart has worked in a variety of industry roles, most recently as superintendent responsible for continuous improvement training and warehouse purchasing.

“The training is certainly my forte,” Stewart said. “It’s something I love and, actually, being given the opportunity to co-present some of the programs with NORCAT’s main leaders in Sudbury is going to be exciting.”

From its new location, NORCAT will be able to offer its full suite of training programs, including hands-on classroom work, e-learning, and simulation training using its new, state-of-the-art simulation equipment.

NORCAT acquired a Cybermine4 simulator from ThoroughTec in May. It will initially be launched with a MacLean bolter, Atlas Copco rocket boomer, and Sandvik and Caterpillar load haul dumps (LHDs). The mobile unit, which looks like a large pod, is outfitted with a kiosk control panel that replicates those found on real pieces of mining equipment. The user is surrounded by high-definition screens and the entire pod vibrates to simulate movement.

NORCAT Timmins will also continue developing custom programming for mine sites and delivering contract and orientation training for companies. New clients have been lined up and will come on board this fall.

“We’re prepared to offer it all in Timmins, much like in Sudbury,” Stewart said.

Opening a satellite office in Timmins was a natural move for the organization, which had already had a presence in the community for some time, said Jason Bubba, NORCAT’s director of training and development. But having a trainer permanently in place in Timmins will allow the group to work more closely with clients to meet their exact training needs.

“We’ve been doing business in Timmins for many, many years, and we want to offer — and our customers were asking for — more enhanced services in the Timmins area similar to what we offer in Sudbury,” Bubba said. “The only way to really do that is to get permanent boots on the ground in the Timmins area.”

Stewart has already begun working with mining companies in the community to generate some buzz around the new venture.

If there’s a trend emerging in safety training today it’s the use of technology alongside traditional training methods — where appropriate, Bubba said.

Nothing can ever replace hands-on, instructor-led training, which is invaluable for the knowledge transfer between instructor and student, he said, but technology can enhance that training.

“We want them to have the knowledge on how to handle that situation, but you don’t send someone down a ramp to have a brake failure on the equipment,” Bubba said. “So, I think, if we’re looking at new techniques and new trends, it’s certainly the advanced training technology that NORCAT offers that these companies will be taking a hard look at in the near future.”

NORCAT’s burgeoning relationship with Collège Boréal will be more than just one of landlord and tenant, Bubba emphasized. The two organizations want to form a true partnership to explore new business opportunities.

“Through that partnership we hope to leverage both our expertise in our various areas so that we can have some mutually beneficial services that we offer to the mining companies through joint ventures with Collège Boréal and NORCAT,” he said.