Interview with Michael Meidow, VP Technical Support, CR Powered by Epiroc. United States

The Trusted Adviser: Empowering Mine Personnelwith Expert Guidance

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Michael Meidow is a self-motivated, results-oriented problem solver. He is a degreed engineer who is equally at ease interacting with the factory floor or overseeing an engineering team as he is interacting with customers. Michael is an effective team builder who values and respects individuals. He has successfully completed two international assignments with increasing levels of responsibility in a variety of functional areas, demonstrating that he is an adaptable, results-oriented professional. His skill set encompasses sales, design engineering, automation, product management, customer service, technical field support, and product management.

His areas of expertise include operational management, creative direction, communication, training and employee development, product design and marketing, and mobile application development.

Describe your education and professional experience:

A degreed mechanical engineer who feels equally comfortable in front of the customer as I do interfacing with the factory floor or leading an engineering or product team, I am working in the Mining Industry over 30 years. 

I stared my career in Germany and worked with the 3 of 4 largest mining excavator OEM’s in Europe, CAT, Komatsu and Liebherr. The 4th one is Hitachi in Japan. I am now going on 4 years employed with what is now CR Powered by Epiroc as the VP of Technical Support.

Summarize your company business and current projects you are involved in:

CR sells/ manufactures a range of mining equipment and technology including lips, GET, dragline buckets and rigging, conveyor systems, fixed plant wear products, plate block and wear, and digital solutions – from payload management to GET monitoring. 

My role is to support our Regional Account Managers with technical Information and I support our products in the field and advice our clients, bucket shops and dealers on how to best install and use our products for optimized performance.

Throughout your career, you have held various leadership roles in the mining industry. What lessons have you learned about effective leadership, and how do you apply these to your current role as VP of Technical Support?

In my thirty years in the mining industry, I have visited Mines all over the world. In doing so I have come across a lot of different people with different backgrounds and cultures. In a global organization you experience the same thing. So as a leader you need to be open to listening. 

You need to ask questions because you might have misunderstood something due to Language issues. Rather than telling people what to do you need to give them a framework and let them work independently in this framework. Let them make mistakes, but make sure those mistakes are not catastrophic for the organization. Provide opportunities for your employees, that can be a career move or just an exciting project where the individual will be the project leader and can show their potential.

In a nutshell: Lead by mentorship rather than by dictatorship.

As you’ve worked with major mining excavator OEMs in Europe like CAT, Komatsu, and Liebherr, can you share some of the key lessons you’ve learned from these experiences?

I only worked a short period of time (10 years) with the Mining OEMs in Europe. During this time, I was working mainly with the engineering departments of the OEMs. Our company Engineering team was in the US and I was the liaison between OEM engineers and our company engineers.

I learned quickly that it is best if Engineers talk to each other but at that time the language barriers were still high so that I was used as a translator and was used to making certain points clear for each party. Same major new excavators were developed during that time and our Lip and GET system needed to meet the OEMs requirements to withstand those new forces of the bigger and stronger excavators. I learned a lot during this time, not only in engineering, but also in relationship building, negotiation skills and finally my technical English.

In general Mining Excavator OEMs are very good at designing these machines. Some of them have tried to design and manufacture GET. Some of the OEMs were successful but mainly in the construction market where the GET is a commodity. A lot of more effort is involved in designing Mining GET and most OEMs do not have the experience or the patience to get this right. Most of the OEMs today have acquired one of the previous independent GET producers.

Can you give an overview of CR’s mining equipment and technology offerings and how they are shaping the industry?

We offer Ground Engaging Tools (GET) featuring proven locking systems for Rope Shovels, Hydraulic Excavators, Wheel Loaders, and LHD machines. Our GET is designed to minimize machine downtime and safety hazards by eliminating the need for hot work while also improving productivity. 

Additionally, we offer digital solutions for GET loss detection, payload monitoring, and drill navigation.  These solutions generate data, which becomes the foundation for new insights and more effective mining operations enabling customers to link actionable data with the right decisions to meet their performance goals. 

How does your role as VP of Technical Support allow you to provide valuable technical information to regional account managers and clients in the field?

The technical support team’s first role is to train our sales team and the customers they serve. We also travel a lot to sites for hands-on training. We are also present when our lips are installed to buckets. 

The biggest challenge is to ensure that projects from two customers do not overlap, and we cannot serve them at the same time. Having a good travel schedule and getting awareness of the trip early enough from our sales team and the customer is very helpful. Sometimes we only have hours to prepare for a trip. 

Customers in general, schedule bucket repairs and with that lip installations. The acceptance of Microsoft team, Zoom and others especially after COVID is very helpful.

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Let’s discuss the benefits of integral cast stabilization in SaberEdge and TLC. How do these features enhance the performance and longevity of mining equipment?

Any Lip that is used in any of the Mining Excavators, Rope Shovels and Front End Loaders uses either weld on adapter, mechanical adapter or a cast lip (where the adapter is eliminated and incorporated into the cast lip).

If you weld the adapter onto a plate lip you are relying on the weld to hold the adapter in place. During the operation on the machine the lip flexes during normal operation and that introduces stress in the lip. Cracks typically develop in the Heat affected Zone, this is the area next to the weld joint. To remove the weld, mechanically attach the adapter. The adapter attachment system needs to reliably keep the adapter in place. Because the adapter is very large compared to the attachment system and the forces generated by the machine are enormous, adapter stabilization needs to be used in combination with the mechanical attachment system. Some GET manufacturers weld stabilization bosses/pads to the lip to generate the adapter stabilization, but for me that does not solve the welding problem, because those welds will create cracks that need to be fixed regularly.

In our Saber Edge with mechanically attached adapters, we integrate the stabilization into the lip. Our lips are cast lips and the adapter stabilization is cast into the lip. 

Essentially, we have ribs cast into the lip where the adapters slide into. Our Hydraulic Attachments system is unique and allows the user to install the adapter without any re tightening during the life of the adapter.

Other screw-on systems need such a re tightening on a regular basis. Because of the adapter stabilization and the Hydraulic attachment system that keep the adapter tight on the lip during operation, the lip will not experience wear in the adapter area. No movement, no wear.

This will allow the customer to replace the adapter without lip repair before a new adapter is installed. Faster turnaround for the bucket and less cost on lip repair over the life of the lip.

What is the role of dedicated field representatives in CR’s service model, and how do they help support customers and dealers?

A dedicated Field Service representative is responsible for a region, an area, or a mine site. This all depends on the number of buckets with our Lips and GET in the mine.

It also depends on our customer location and travel time to reach such customers to support our products. During mine visits we train mine-personnel on installation and removal practices if they just received one of our products. On an ongoing basis we still can do training if necessary (new people at the mine) or we discuss issues or potential improvement of processes or product with the mine employees.

If the mine has questions about existing buckets / lips we provide recommendations and future repair and better wear protection solutions.

We want to be the trusted adviser for the Mine personnel.

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