Multi-Faceted Manufacturing

Adria Manufacture Inc.

Adria Manufacture, based in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, designs and fabricates industrial electrical equipment including portable substations, industrial control panels, motor controls and switch assemblies. The company also provides equipment refurbishing and electrical testing services.

The company is a manufacturing business that specializes in creating substations and other custom electric equipment for the booming mining industry in Quebec and around the world. When it was started twenty years ago, Adria was under the same roof and in conjunction with Construction Promec – an electromechanical construction company. The similarity between the two proved to be confusing for customers and, after a short period, the two gained separate premises.

It was 2004 when Adria Manufacture broke off into its own company, effectively re-branding itself in a way that is recognisable to the customer. Customers now see the company as a business that can design the custom electrical equipment they need. “On the inside, the change wasn’t really a change; it was more for the customer,” explains Ken Bouchard, the General Manager of Adria Manufacture.

Even though the company now has its own shareholders and is able to concentrate its efforts on manufacturing for its customers’ specific needs, it still works alongside Promec. No longer technically grouped with the company, Adria continues to offer Promec, and its customers, competitive prices.

“The president of the company does share a few different hats but at the end of the day if we aren’t competitive within their group then the customer could very well go to another manufacturer for their equipment,” shares Ken.

Adria Manufacture makes customized electrical equipment that can be used in underground mining operations as well as open pit operations and other industries. “When the mine operates, their equipment needs energy to operate, for their ventilation, lights, sensors, safety, security, et cetera. We bring the energy to their equipment. I like to say that we energize the development of our customer,” says Ken, pointing out that the company also has customers outside of the mining industry who use its products for development applications.

The company makes both medium-voltage products (junction boxes, portable and skid mounted substations, portable medium-voltage switches, mine power centers and portable switchgears) and low-voltage equipment (automation control panels, single or multiple output power take-off panels (PTO), motor starters and protection panels).

Adria Manufacture’s best selling products are substations. These deceptively simple looking boxes, containing an intricate array of switches, control equipment, transformers and circuit breakers, are a critical part of an electrical system.

“We take the high voltage electricity, hook it into our substation which will regulate it into more high voltage for equipment that needs it and low voltage for other equipment that required a lower voltage.”

These substations are used to regulate electricity to different parts of the operation, automatically turning off the power in certain areas if power spikes or short circuits are detected. Overloading on the network can cause fire or damage to expensive equipment. Circuit breakers within the substation are used to interrupt overload currents before they can become a safety problem for the mine personnel.

Physical damage to electrical systems in mines is also hazardous. For example, if a wire supplying electricity to an electric compressor is severed and shorts out, the substation will detect this and terminate the connection.

In addition to the substations, the company is flexible enough to build a wide range of custom machinery. The company has a CWB (Canadian Welding Bureau) certified welding shop, steel fabrication shop, electrical shop and a paint shop which together make it easy for the customer to get exactly what they need without going to several different places. “We also do electrical rooms for buildings, for pump houses, for other applications – different useful things like that.”

It employs electrical engineers, designers and computer graphics artists who are able to complete 3D designs that show a customer exactly what the project will look like – before it’s built. The company also has its production department, service department and sales team who all help the customer bring a concept into reality. The company’s sales team is trained to help customers solve issues and will even help fix problems with competitor’s products.

Staff numbers fluctuate seasonally. When business is slow, the company can have as few as thirty-five employees; when business picks up, the company may have as many as seventy employees all working on projects.

The company fabricates the project and ships it to the customer. As the units are modular and designed to be easy to install, the customer can perform their own installation. Adria then goes to the site and does the commissioning of the machinery before its operation can begin. “We make sure that it is hooked up right and that there will be no problems down the road.” This involves such details as supplying the correct voltage for its application and programming safety devices in the machines.

There are many companies that can supply a great substation for almost any need, but very rarely is there a company that can supply a product that is completely customized for the intended application. “They all have different challenges, because they all work in a different way, even if what they are doing amounts to the same thing.”

Adria Manufacture has carved out its own niche in the market by purchasing the tools and electronics necessary for a custom design and the company finds the right solution for every unique customer. This is a pleasant surprise to those companies that require a specific size or capability or that need a special piece of equipment that wouldn’t normally be included in a standard substation design.

“We are very flexible and we work hard to find the right solution for our customers.” Ken says that this not only includes finding the most affordable means of production, but the best way for meeting the specific needs of the customer. “Most often, it’s not the cost of the project that will save you money; it’s how you are going to do it.”

Energy supply or temperature problems are very common within the manufacturing sector or mining sector companies due to environment or remote locations. The company has been able to use its experience within the manufacturing industry to solve these issues by designing products that are tailored for use in places ranging from desert heat to those where it may be – 55°C. Adria Manufacture also has designed equipment to be used as far as two kilometres underground, where it is difficult to get energy in an efficient way.

Recently, the company built the biggest substation that has ever been built by their team. The challenge however was not the size of the unit but was the shipping and getting it into its final position. Everything in the unit had to be built to withstand the vibration of the initial trip from the manufacturing facility to its final location. The unit had to be skidded through over ten kilometres of underground tunnels and through very tight spaces before it was in place to be used. “We succeeded on making it durable, and we made it within the timeframe. It was a job well done,” says Ken. “The sheer quality of the project was amazing; the customer was very satisfied. There is a lot of experience within these walls that is available to anyone who is in need of a solution.”