by Tim Wilson
Shifting focus on the growing nuclear energy industry
L&R Machinery Canada Inc.
location: Montreal, QC
size: 6,000 sq ft / 557 sq m
years in business: 20
key manufacturing processes: CNC machining, welding
L&R Machinery Canada Inc., a family-owned machine shop in Montreal, QC, has been in business since 1994. In the past 20 years the company has developed extensive capabilities in CNC and custom machining, with additional abilities in CAD/CAM, welding, and mechanical assembly.
“We have worked in aerospace, and do some commercial stuff, but about a year and a half ago we got into atomic energy, and that has made a big difference for us,” says Levente Lazar, L&G Machinery’s president. “That sector is really moving–we are delivering on turbines for atomic energy customers in Ontario and New Brunswick.”
L&R Machinery has a roster of between ten and 12 employees working out of a 557 sq m (6,000 sq ft) plant. The company conforms to ISO 9001:2008, which has helped it in the past to deliver when machining precision valve and medical research equipment for the pharmaceutical sector. It has also provided a quality baseline for the shift into energy.
“We used to be big in pharmaceuticals–medical testing equipment was our bread and butter–but that then went into a decline,” says Lazar. “We knew we had the talent, and set out to target additional opportunities. The ability to reference the previous quality of our work was a plus.”
In fact, the company has its own quality manual that details its standards, and which it makes available to current and prospective customers. The company’s philosophy is to be solution driven and to know the specifics of its customers’ demands. This has been aided by a low attrition rate for machinists and management, and a strong commitment to investment in advanced machining.
“For our customers in atomic energy the accuracy requirements are very high,” says Lazar. “These are all custom jobs for specially designed parts. As for metals, you name it, we’ve used it, whether it be aluminum, high grade steels, or alloys.”
The ability to deliver components in more than one industry requires a degree of flexibility, and for that to be effective and reliable L & R Machinery benefits from the continuity and diversity of its talent base. The company is clear that despite its investments in advanced machining, its valuable asset is its skilled and creative technical staff–its core shareholders are all experienced machinists.
“Because of the quality of our people, we can focus on machining difficult parts in demanding industries,” says Lazar. “This is a distinct advantage, because these are the customers who are not looking to have their work done in India or China.”
L&R Machinery invests in employee training and advanced software, offering additional value to its customers via technical support, as well as the necessary testing and calibration to support its quality control system, but it has steered clear of design.
“We don’t design for those parts within the aircraft sector or energy,” says Levante. “We used to do that when we were machining for the pharmaceutical sector, but we have since steered clear of it. We find more value in sticking to our core business– which is making difficult, demanding parts.”
What makes L&R Machinery interesting is that it built its core capabilities in the pharmaceutical and aircraft industries by delivering to customers in Quebec, and when those opportunities waned it looked further afield to neighbouring provinces.
“We first looked at the energy sector over a decade ago,” says Lazar. “After we picked up our first job, it just got stronger and stronger, and the trend is holding.”
It is likely to stay strong, given that the industry is investing in infrastructure, and requires metal parts that can tolerate high temperatures and pressure, and that are expected to last for decades. As well, atomic energy is an industry that will continue to source close to home, which means that a Canadian supplier like L&R Machinery has built in protection form lower cost shops, not only in Asia but also in the US. SMT
Tim Wilson is a contributing editor. [email protected]