Orford MNA 618 Sherbrooke Magog 819-847-3911 1 855-547-3911 Space age coming to Ayer’s Cliff
The smell of metal grinding is there, but the high pitch deafening noise isn’t heard, only a muffled sound. Yet, there are sparks under two huge machines, cutting one inch thick steel at micron precision.
Unattended, both shutting down automatically at the first hint of a problem, and the latest one, sending a video stream to the operator!
This is the machine shop of the future. It opened less than a year ago in Ayer’s Cliff under the leadership of Alec Van Zuiden as Zen Metal. Brand new laser cutter, one CO2 the other the latest fiber optic with an Italian look that almost scream ‘Ferrari’. Maybe two millions in investment already. 14 employees, all needing the latest skills. “Mistake are allowed once, said Mr. Van Zuiden, not twice!”
For Vincent Veilleux (photo above), the operator of the Italian made Cilaser, this is a dream job. He holds a DEP, a high school technical degree, and this is almost a dream come true. “Here at Zen Metal, I’m working with the latest technology and I’m able to use my knowledge.” The demonstration of having the machine stream to a mobile phone a live video of its operation the best proof that the future is a lot closer than we think. It should almost be a mandatory school visit for those who don’t see well-paying jobs in their future.
But it was less the state of the art equipment that impressed the Stanstead-Journal, that seeing Mr. Veilleux take out an old fashioned notebook to look at notes that he taken earlier! For Nicolas Pouliot, the vice-president, logging all details is the best way to a smooth operation. “These are new machines, new technology in an uncharted territory, if we document what we do correctly, then we will have the best return on our investment, if not we will be reinventing the wheel every day.”
This is a highly competitive environment, sometime the turnaround is less than a couple of days, sometime the same day. These machines are precise to the thousands of an inch, able to repeat the same pattern without human supervision. As long as there is steel on the rack, the can churn out the exact same piece without human supervision.
Today’s job market is in fact playing out right now in Ayer’s Cliff. In less than a year, there are 14 employees working in a high precision environment. Using the latest technology on the market. Zen Metal is not the only company in the region who is looking for trained employee in these new fields, there are a lot more than seems to exist for those who are not looking at the right place. Next to home for a lot of us.