Adapting forestry equipment for drilling

In 2019, A.L. Sims and Son Ltd. received a $50,000 grant from Northern Development through the Northern Industries Innovation Fund program towards this project. This has been a funding partnership of Northern Development


A well-established Prince George-based business is developing a drill slide hammer adaption that will use a Rottne forwarder, a machine built for transporting logs from the stump to the road, as a carrier for a mobile drill. A.L. Sims and Son Ltd. has a research and development team that developed a conceptual idea of how the drill will be attached to the forwarder and how it will be moved. To assist with the engineering and fabrication costs, A.L. Sims and Son successfully applied to Northern Development’s Northern Industries Innovation Fund for $50,000, the maximum amount available through the program to a project.

“Thanks to innovative thinking from our research and development team and financial support from Northern Development, A.L. Sims and Son is exploring ways to repurpose machinery typically used in the forestry industry,” said John Irving, chief financial officer at A.L. Sims and Son. “With the recent downturn in forestry, it is economical and efficient to use existing equipment for new purposes. This specific project will allow A.L. Sims and Son to better serve clients in a cost effective way while supporting other local businesses instead of relying on foreign markets for drill related products. The drill slide hammer adaption will allow the drills to be used in many different industrial sectors, including pipeline, power line and mining projects.”

By attaching a drill to a Rottne log forwarder, experienced drill operators will experience greater mobility on the drilling site and they will be able to drill both vertically and horizontally. These factors will provide A.L. Sims and Son with a competitive advantage in a demanding market.

Part of A.L. Sims and Son’s rationale for conducting this project is the realization that the slide drill will create manufacturing opportunities for Prince George-based businesses once the concept is proven, bringing work to Northern B.C. instead of relying on imported products for similar jobs. The company also sees value in providing an alternate use for surplus forestry equipment as the annual allowable cut in the central interior is reduced.

“In addition to growing and diversifying our company, once the concept is proven this project will benefit other businesses that are engaged in research and development and manufacturing,” Irving explained. “For this prototype alone, A.L. Sims and Son is spending more than $100,000 between four Northern B.C. businesses for drafting, engineering and fabrication of prototypes. We’re pleased to be supporting other small businesses because we know that together we can grow stronger through the unpredictability of the natural resources sector.”

Launched in January 2018, the Northern Industries Innovation Fund supports innovative projects across a variety of industries. Up to $50,000 to a maximum of 50 per cent of a project’s eligible budget is available to small and medium enterprises. This program helps Northern B.C. businesses improve their competitiveness while generating incremental revenue and new jobs.

Northern Industries Innovation Fund

The Northern Industries Innovation Fund (NIIF) program provides incremental funding to support innovation projects that increase the competitiveness of local businesses in traditional industries across Northern B.C. The program is also intended to support economic diversification and/or viability of businesses to mitigate the economic impact of the pine beetle epidemic. NIIF supports applied research and development, new or improved products and services, and testing of innovative equipment or technologies to support capital investment decisions

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