Advanced Dynamics Corporation

Ongoing success in material handling

Advanced Dynamics Corporation Ltd (ADCL) is a leading supplier of heavy-duty material handling systems. As a management-owned company, ADCL focuses on engineering, design and manufacturing their custom-made systems. Located in St Bruno, Québec (next to one of Canada’s major transportation hubs), ADCL offers its global customers the assurance that their equipment will be shipped safely and on time, whether travelling by road, air, rail or sea.

Established in 1965 by Fergus Groundwater—a McGill graduate with a Master’s in mechanical engineering— the company has seen exceptional growth over the years. From a small shop, ADCL has expanded to become a reputable business that employs over 150 professionals and skilled technicians in the areas of project management, engineering, production and sales. These dedicated employees provide end-to-end capabilities to deliver only the best to their customers.

Focused markets

For forty-five years, ADCL has focused on two main business areas. The first has been supplying ultra-robust handling systems to a variety of metal industry segments, including primary and secondary aluminum producer; magnesium producers; lead-acid battery producers; steel producers; and copper producers.
For this diverse customer base, the company provides a range of solutions, such as maintenance equipment, carbon plant systems and cast house systems.
Whether a client needs a roller conveyor to upgrade its operation, or a new, state-of-the-art anode handling system, ADCL will meet specific needs to maximize productivity and return on investment. ADCL’s complete systems have sophisticated controls packages that integrate directly with its clients’ production management systems.

The second focus area is in the pulp and paper industry, as designers and builders of world-class Pulper Charging Systems with manual and automatic bale de-wiring equipment, roll handling, wrapping and finishing systems. Everything the company offers for pulp and paper applications is to fit easily into mill management systems, allowing for labour savings and direct reduction of productions costs. From pulp bales and recycled bales to roll handling systems, ADCL has harnessed the engineering needed to cater to this industry.

Peter Hanna, president at ADCL, describes the company’s niche markets like a three-legged stool. “One leg is pulp and paper, the second is metals and now we’re looking for that third leg,” he says. “Right now, we have products lines in only two industries. One area is always stronger than the other, from one year to the next, but they are both two very solid legs.”

As for the third leg, ADCL is looking to diversify. “Having two legs is pretty darn good,” Hanna adds, “but you have one that’s up, while the other is down. The problem is when both swing down at the same time. We’ve been looking for something that is in a different sector. While we do make equipment in several different industries—including fibreglass and carbon electrodes—these are examples of niche product lines we have, but just aren’t steady enough.”

Hanna is referring to ADCL selectively supplying specialized product lines that require specific engineering and design challenges. For over 10 years, ADCL has partnered with Teck Cominco in supplying battery manufacturing lines to manufacturers around the world. ADCL designs and manufactures lead strip winders and automated battery plate stacking systems that are integrated into Teck Cominco’s patented, market-leading battery manufacturing lines.

ADCL has also supplied fibreglass batt stackers, balers, choppers and folders to the insulation industry, including all attendant conveying and handling systems. Finally, the company has executed selective projects in aerospace, valve testing and food and beverage packaging.

Support beyond the sale

In order to be a good supplier, ADCL makes sure to offer its customers thorough after-market support. Service represents an integral part of the company’s commitment to superior system performance and client satisfaction. ADCL’s team of professionals wants to ensure that every system delivered continues to operate optimally over the course of its operating life.

After-market support offerings include:
• 24-hour pager support;
• Four-hour technical response;
• Maintenance audits;
• Controls optimization;
• Personnel training;
• Custom support programs; and
• Equipment upgrades

ADCL’s service team has the skills and experience in the materials handling field—be it pulp and paper or primary metals—to cover its customer’s equipment needs. And in addition to providing a range of services, ADCL also offers a variety of spare parts for all of its equipment—all with rapid delivery and competitive pricing.

High standards

Along with service, quality is the top priority at ADCL. In fact, it is the policy. Constantly striving to exceed customer expectations, the company has implemented a quality management system to ensure the highest levels of professionalism and effectiveness in all processes. Through ongoing and formal review at quality management meetings, the ADCL team reviews, refines and continually improves the management system by establishing objectives and measuring results. This continuous review process ensures the customer satisfaction, high-quality products and ongoing success of ADCL.

Overcoming challenges

Like most companies, ADCL has felt the effects of a tight economy. During the hardship, however, the company held on to its values and, most importantly, its people. “In slow times, you have to keep your core group and make sure you don’t lose valuable employees,” explains Hanna. “They are the most important assets of our company. We have managed to retain a very, very good core group. In fact, the average employee tenure here is 10 years.”

Another popular challenge has been our rising dollar. “We are a Canadian manufacturer, and although we sell worldwide, the bulk of our business—the bread and butter, as they say—has been in the United States. With the U.S. dollar weakening and our dollar strengthening, it makes our margins smaller and it can be very difficult to compete with American competition that sells domestically. Globally, it’s a bit different. When we sell to the Middle East, or anywhere else where the U.S. currency is not being used, it is less of a factor.”

“Looking ahead, we would like to return to a profitable marketplace in both the aluminum and pulp and paper industries,” says Hanna. “We have weathered the storm of the economic slowdown. In 2010, our activity level is just as high as it’s ever been, so it’s good sign that paper and aluminum industries are, indeed, turning around. It looks like it will be a good year.”