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Two if by sea

By Lisa Rummler

October 2009- Working close to the coast in Southern California has its perks. There's no shortage of sun and sand--and the smell of the salt from the Pacific Ocean.

It makes sense, then, that American Machine & Conveyor, Ventura, Calif., does a great deal of work that involves water.

AMC is the sister company of Craftsmen Construction, which was founded in 1979. Incorporated in 1991, AMC came about to meet a specific need, according to James A. Owens, president.

"I started out as a contractor, and along the way, I was doing a lot of manufacturing work for large industrial plants," he says. "I couldn't wait online for the machine parts in order to complete the work that we were doing, so we started doing our own machine work."

Water, water everywhere
Conveyors are among AMC's most common fabrication items. The company has also done a great deal of custom work, including a fiber cement roof tile machine, which makes tiles from 100 percent recycled materials and uses 1 million lbs. of opposed hydraulic force.

Another one-of-a-kind project involved the construction of a stainless steel shark cage, which AMC did in the mid-1990s.

"Eastport International came to us and said, 'We're doing an offshore project for the Navy. We need to do some research, and we need a shark cage,'" says Owens. "They gave us some design parameters, and we went about engineering it for strength, then we fabricated it."

During the same time period, AMC built two overseas shipping containers for a project the Navy was doing in the Arctic.

"We retrofitted those with a lot of insulation, obviously, and then [we did] some equipment and operational things they needed," says Owens. "It was all custom-built."

Additionally, given the proximity of Point Mugu and Port Hueneme, as well as the presence of government and international contractors in the area, AMC often does work for these entities.

Recently, the company built a test device for an underwater replenishment station for the Navy. UNREP entails two ships shooting cables between each other, thereby one ship passes supplies to another. This allows the ship receiving supplies to stay at sea longer.

There's a large UNREP facility at the Pout Hueneme Navy base, according to Owens, where scientists develop technology to improve methods and procedures.

"They needed something that would simulate a four-story ship, so we built a structure that [height], and it's real heavy-duty," he says. "They wanted this to look and feel as if they're on a ship, so the different levels replicate the levels on the ship that the men would be working in when they're doing underwater replenishment."

Bread and butter
AMC enjoys this sort of unique job shop work, but Owens says it tends to be sporadic. To ensure the company keeps its key employees on a full-time basis, AMC also makes products for which there's a consistent need.

"One of the things we developed was a water sample station," says Owens. "We market those to municipalities, water districts and general contractors--a variety of different [groups] that are installing portable water systems around the United States."

The Environmental Protection Agencyrequires consistent sampling of water in portable water pipes, which used to be done at hose bibs, or outdoor water faucets.

"As testing techniques became more sophisticated, they began to discover that the tests failed when they were taken from these hose bibs because of the microorganism buildup on the hose bib itself," says Owens. "We developed this low-tech container [to help]. Basically, they bring a water pipe up, stub it off in some concrete and set a testing capsule on top of that. And then, periodically, a technician will come out, open the top of the water sample station and use a valve to flush the line out."

This clears the line of any residual water that's been sitting there, which helps reduce the number of contaminated samples.

Given the success and popularity of the portable water systems, AMC plans to expand these sorts of offerings, according to Owens.

"We're currently researching and engineering a variety of products and doing test marketing on them that will integrate with the current marketing for the water sample stations," he says. "It's expanded across the United States, so we're already in touch with these water districts, and there are other things they need besides just water sample stations." FFJ

Sources

  • American Machine & Conveyor
    Ventura, Calif.
    phone: 805/485-2932
    fax: 805/988-8493
    www.american-mc.com

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