July 5, 2010
by Noelle Stapinsky, Features Editor
G-Plus guards limit access to moving parts on conveyor belts.
Mining operations use a lot of steel for structural and other elements where the damp, subterranean work areas make weight and corrosion issues central to part and component design. Developing fabricated plastics as alternatives for mining and other industries is the territory a small Quebec plastics fabricator has staked out for itself with an annual investment in R&D and a commitment to innovation.
G-Plus Industrial Plastics Inc., which started out as a small operation in Northern Quebec in 1995, has developed a wide range of fabricated plastics that offer a lighter, corrosion-free alternative to steel parts and components that will save mines and companies in other industries capital and maintenance costs.
Its 10,000 square-foot facility is in Rouyn-Noranda, Que., a mining hot spot since the 1920s where the largest gold deposit in Canada was discovered. The company, owned and operated by husband and wife Dan Gagnon (president) and Nina Dion (general manager), brings in about $2 million annually and employs 19 people who develop and produce a range of fabricated plastic solutions. They include raise buckets for transporting equipment underground, guards for conveyor systems and other machinery, explosives boxes, tanks, filters, chutes, gutters and ventilation ducting. And up to 5% of its annual earnings go into intensive R&D efforts.
The breadth of its capabilities is evident even in the company name—if you say G-Plus in French [J’ai plus] it means, “I have more”.
“We can make conveyor guards that are double the size and only half the weight of steel,” says Stephan Tapp, G-Plus’s marketing development manager.
And for many industrial operations, maintaining steel is often laborious—it must be repainted to cover scratches and rust-proofed or replaced. Plastic is lighter, improves a tool’s life span and requires little maintenance.
G-Plus uses fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) for guarding products. It also stocks HDP, UHMW, HMW, polycarbonate, Teflon and nylon—transforming the sheets and rods in many different ways.
Tapp likens it to working with wood, but instead of using nails and screws, the plastic is welded, a technique that’s not new but difficult to master.
Raise buckets used to transport equipment in underground mining operations are made with UHMW because it’s half the weight of steel and the price point is about the same.