Efficiency, Versatility & Precision
~ By Perry King
A small company with big ambitions, AMEC Usinage is poised to do some dynamic things in the manufacturing industry this year.
Incorporated in 1995 by friends Francois Doyon and Christian Beaulieu and originally residing in the Charlesbourg industrial park north of Quebec City, AMEC Usinage (meaning “machining” in French) has earned a reputation as a trusted manufacturer — focusing on the production of components to accurate precision.
With an outlook to provide more consulting, machining, quality and project management expertise in the medical, energy and aerospace sectors in Canada and abroad, AMEC has focused on expanding its production capacity in its facility in Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, Quebec while acquiring assets for more expanded business.
With a plan to increase business volume by 20 per cent this year and make a big move into the aerospace industry, adjusting the growing volume to their production capacities in Quebec is the biggest challenge for AMEC, says Eric Morin, AMEC’s director of research and development.
“We have to fight to reduce, as much as possible, setup times and to double up the capacity, to calculate all these intangible costs that represent stocking finishing parts,” says Morin, a University of Laval engineering graduate who has been with AMEC since 2010.
With second level MACH aerospace production certification achieved this year, and the anticipation of third-level MACH certification later this year, the company is in a favorable position to acquire more business, of which Morin and AMEC will keep their eyes peeled. No decisions have been made publicly, as yet.
“We can expect that, if we do an acquisition, it’ll expand our reach geographically,” Morin mused, “just to keep closer to strategic markets.”
MACH certification for manufacturers, engineers and quality control specialists was launched in Quebec by Aero Montreal in 2010. The certification strengthens the province’s aerospace supply chain by increasing a firm’s qualifications within the province. Bombardier, the Canadian air and railway company, currently has the highest level of certification, at the fifth level. With third-level certification, AMEC will be able to open their business up to more opportunities and more long-term contracts.
“We’re trying to keep control and to be able to flip that market a little bit,” said Morin.
Throughout their history as a firm, AMEC Usinage has executed measured business decisions to grow their business. In 1997, the company acquired more computer numerical control (CNC) machines and over 5,000 square feet of building expansions to support machining functions. Those machines are valued between $5 million and $7 million.
In 2004, AMEC acquired Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures -based Atelier d’usinage BG, which expanded their number of CNCs in Quebec and gave the company more room to work on current workflows and give them room to practice new machining techniques.
“This company tried to expand a couple times in the past, but we were not ready,” Morin said, “right now, we feel that we put all the ingredients together to be able to do it and I’m sure we will succeed at that.”
This year, with the implementation of the aerospace industry’s standard AS-9100 and their oncoming third-level MACH certification, AMEC is juggling a lot of change all at once, becoming a lean, more efficient manufacturer at home.
“We’re a little nervous because we have major projects that we have to execute,” says Morin. “We have to plan this very finely, and so far, so good.”
AMEC’s measured growth in Quebec has been marked by distinct approaches to design and execution of projects. Centered on providing quotes and delivering professional feedback on a variety of design projects, Morin says the company remains competitive through a three-pronged approach: high expertise, high quality work and a strong presence in local and social media.
“We want to be proactive before we begin manufacturing, give technical advice and support to our customers when we feel that the design has some weaknesses,” says Morin, which is something AMEC’s customers greatly appreciate.
AMEC’s public presence, especially in advertising, has grown over its history. They primarily target an active, engaged audience in magazines and social media.
“We have a dynamic communications program, to ensure that all the industry constantly keeps in touch with AMEC,” remarked Morin, “that’s something we are doing actively.”
AMEC stands by the quality of their machining, which AMEC boasts is graded at 99 per cent quality delivery.
“We want to make sure when you think about AMEC, you think about ‘I won’t have any problems,’” said Morin. “If I have a problem, they’ll see it right in the drawing before machining, they will advise me and we will do the correction.”
“When the part comes here, it will be perfect. That’s one of our strengths, you don’t have any problems and it has value in terms of money and time. That is our identity right now.”
With their close strategic location, within earshot of potential clients in Montreal, AMEC Usinage is in a position to provide more services to a growing aerospace industry in the city and throughout the province. Morin is excited to see what is in store.
“Right now, AMEC is improving at such a high rate that we are feeling here like we are sitting in a volcano, that we’re about to erupt,” said Morin. “Keep in touch with us; you might hear from us in the next year, we are just about to explode.”