HIBBING — After years and years of a presence on the Iron Range, Metso Outotec is now planning to grow its Hibbing location.
“We’re looking to expand’’ the office and repair facility in Hibbing, which has been in place for about 12 years,” said Ron Schnacke, Vice President of Sales and Services-Mining for the U.S. Region.
Why is Metso Outotec adding to its offerings in Hibbing?
“The Iron Range is a very important part of Metso Outotec, and our customers depend on us to deliver solutions and provide ongoing support,’’ Schnacke said in a telephone interview. “I can’t stress enough that we’re trying to get more local.’’
That includes having day-to-day administrative employees and highly-skilled technical support staff available in Hibbing whenever customers need them, he added.
“By this time next year, we’ll be up and running very strong.’’
Metso Outotec has been in the mining industry for more than 150 years and has been involved on the Iron Range since the inception of the mines.
“We were on the ground floor of commissioning a lot of those mines with our equipment going in there,’’ according to Schnacke.
Metso Outotec provides mining customers with sustainable solutions for every stage of the mining process, from the ore body to metal, while providing equipment, parts and services that can be customized to each application, he added. Metso Outotec’s advisory services include testing, inspections, feasibility studies, engineering, field services and technical support for maintenance repairs and shutdown planning and optimization. Metso Outotec helps its customers improve efficiency, increase productivity and reduce environmental and economic risks.
Metso Outotec has over 15,600 employees worldwide, which includes 1,600 employees and more than 200 dedicated service experts in North and Central America. “We look forward to expanding those numbers in the Iron Range as well,’’ he said.
Hibbing has mainly been a hub for the Metso Outotec sales team that supports customers daily and is a place where they can sit down with the field team, but they plan to expand on that.
In addition to sales in Hibbing, Metso Outotec has a limited amount of repairs they can do at the facility. That includes some tear down, inspections and pre-assemblies. That enables customers to not have to do so much assembly on site.
“We’re looking to expand that … or look for another building,’’ Schnacke said.
By the first quarter of 2023, Metso Outotec expects to have the decision made to stay at the current facility at 3605 E. Beltline and expand or get into another facility because “we’re constantly growing,’’ he added.
The growth of Metso Outotec will help with their core exchange programs, as well.
“The mines on the Iron Range like local presence,’’ Schnacke told the Mesabi Tribune. “We want to be part of that local presence. … We really need to be able to act on the customers’ requests for service or parts and repairs in a more effective and quicker way.’’
Metso Outotec has some inventory and repair capabilities right in Hibbing, he said. Currently, Metso Outotec has a large repair center in Mesa, Ariz., where large repairs are sent. However, Metso Outotec knows and understands that Range customers want to keep it local. “That’s what we see the need for. That’s what we’re trying to grow.’’
The equipment Metso Outotec works on includes crushers, screens, grinding mills, pumps, high and low intensity magnetic separators (lims), pressure filters, bulk handling equipment, dryers and coolers for pellets and more.
Schnacke and Metso Outotec are focused on keeping as much local as they can.
“We feel that there’s a need for us to be closer and be able to do those repairs right there in the area.’’
Metso Outotec also offers digital solutions that can improve the equipment they sell and service. Schnacke said that includes computerized cameras and sensors that can recommend adjustments to the operator to make sure productivity stays high. Remote monitoring services are also available.
“We have a team of process experts watching the equipment’’ and the information coming back from each site, Schnacke said. With that in place, we can spot and respond to issues quickly, identify maintenance needs like pinpointing service dates for wear liners that are getting low, as well as identify, implement and sustain process optimization based on the data and desired goals, he added.
In addition to helping improve reliability with digitalization, we want to help reduce downtime for the mining companies on the Iron Range with solutions like our core exchange program for pumps and lims. “All of our customers are talking about that, without a doubt, because of the high demand for commodities, so everybody wants to minimize downtime,’’ he said.
With a core group of staff working in Hibbing now, the plan is to grow that location with more field service and technical support staff.
Schnacke said that would allow customers to call a local phone number instead of a 1-800 number if they need a part urgently.
“We see the need to have a dedicated permanent core team there closer to the customers. So we’re planning to expand our resources in Hibbing.’’
He said some new jobs are already posted on mogroup.com/careers. “We’re in the hiring stage right now of adding people up in Hibbing.’’
To learn more about Metso Outotec’s offering, visit mogroup.com/NorthAmerica.