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Since its incorporation in 2013, Great Excavations has been building and designing amphibious equipment for work on muskeg and other difficult terrain. The company’s efforts were recently recognized with the 2018 Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce Innovation and Advancement Award.
“We are the only company in North America innovating this equipment to make it smarter, safer, faster, and more reliable,” says Lisa Skierka, Director of Business Development.
As temperatures in the north rise over time and winter work programs become more difficult to sustain, industries like mining and forestry will need improved access to difficult terrain during temperate / non-winter months. This access can only be provided in a cost-effective manner via amphibious technologies. Other key sectors worldwide include energy, construction, agriculture, and municipal services.
“Typical jobs we do are pipeline repairs, maintaining and cleaning lagoons, various tailings support, reclamation in wetland areas and the Boreal forest, and cleaning cooling ponds,” says CEO John Skierka. “We see the equipment as a useful tool to do more of the upfront work and get into a production role—instead of coming in after the work to clean up what remains—as well as more environmental clean up of lakes, creeks, rivers and their shorelines.”
“Great Excavations’ biggest challenge is building awareness about the benefits of a non-winter work program using amphibious machinery,” says Lisa Skierka. “This is a challenge because the majority of the work is currently done in the wintertime using ice roads for access to remote areas. Another option is swamp matting. Both of these come with significant challenges. For the ice roads, with shorter winters, there is less time to build them and they don’t last as long as they used to. For swamp matting, they can be used in warmer weather, but they are a pretty resource-intense product to manufacture and they don’t have a lot of stability. After they are used, they end up in the landfill.”
One major benefit, naturally, of Great Excavations’ equipment is that it floats. The machines are built on giant pontoons and are the ultimate all-terrain vehicle. They can go places other machines can’t.
An immediate application for their equipment is caribou habitat restoration. Mandated by the federal government under the Species at Risk Act, Alberta has an estimated 170,000 linear kilometres of seismic lines that need to be remediated, representing potentially $500 million in revenue.
“We will continue to demonstrate the benefits of using amphibious equipment, as previously found in a 2016 COSIA report, Evaluation of Amphibious Restoration Equipment on Muskeg Sites,” says Lisa Skierka. “Our clients have recognized that they can achieve cost savings of 50% when running a remediation program in the temperate months compared to traditional winter programs.”
“We believe diversification is key to building a more sustainable future,” adds John Skierka. “This includes investing in practical, coordinated, forward-thinking made-in-Canada solutions to environmental issues like caribou habitat restoration.”
“For us, it’s about bringing industry together, building on existing expertise across sectors, and really looking to solve problems long-term.”
Great Excavations has big plans.
“In 10 years, Great Excavations and our sister company, Amphibious Equipment Solutions, will be global leaders in amphibious technologies for work in wet conditions,” says Lisa Skierka. “Our machines will set the standard for non-winter work programs, allowing industries to improve environmental performance and increase their capacity for work in the North.”
Toll Free: 866-249-6061
Director of Business Development