In years past, prototype components for the Irish engineering company's hard-rock drilling tools were manufactured on the same production line as its commercial products. Thanks to significant upgrades over the last 24 months Mincon's primary manufacturing facility at its headquarters in Shannon, Ireland, now has significantly increased its manufacturing capacity - but for the company's leadership it seemed counterintuitive to interrupt production with orders for prototype components or new product iterations. As a result, it invested in a dedicated research and development (R&D) facility for new products.
Joe Purcell, CEO, Mincon Group plc, explains: "We are always looking at streamlining our production to ensure customers benefit from lower lead times and guaranteed availability. Thanks to the new dedicated prototype facility, the Shannon factory now operates with greater efficiency."
With Mincon's continued expansion into global markets and a more diverse product line-up, the new R&D facility is a smart move. The facility has a specialised, full-time team of machine operators and engineers, who have access to dedicated lathes and mills for rapid development of new components.
Being located at the Mincon headquarters, the R&D facility also has access to crucial resources like the company's world-class heat-treatment plant where it has developed its metallurgical processes over four decades. These proprietary techniques have earned Mincon's tools the reputation boasted in its slogan - The Driller's Choice - thanks to higher wear resistance and increased efficiency, so it only makes sense that prototype components are manufactured to the same high standards.
Through its worldwide presence, with customer centres across the Americas, EMEA, and APAC regions, the company's service engineers collaborate closely with customers to gather production data from the field. This feedback is given to engineers who improve existing designs and develop new product iterations at the R&D facility.
"Our existing customers are certainly pleased with our current product offering," says Purcell. "They will continue benefiting from our excellent in-market service, and with this additional investment we will further develop those products to deliver greater efficiency, durability, and savings."
The R&D facility is not just busy with prototypes and product iterations, though: it is also the birthplace for future drilling technologies. Mincon is at full tilt developing next-generation drilling solutions with input from its Technology Steering Group, which comprises key members of its engineering team and leading industry experts. With the R&D facility at their disposal, they have been tasked with investigating new materials, manufacturing techniques, metallurgy advancements, and energy-efficient approaches for drilling. These concepts can now be explored and manufactured in-house, with a faster turnaround time than before.
With its ambitious goal of being the driller's choice in all markets, Mincon's R&D facility will play a key role in its future success. And with the right talent on board, there will be a steady pipeline of new products and ideas to further change within the rock drilling industry.