PORT McNEILL — A local business that has helped in the greening of the North Island is poised to do more for its customers.
And to do it a lot faster.
CLN Machine Shop of Port McNeill, which fabricates metal equipment parts for several North Island industries, hosted an open house for its customers today to unveil its latest addition — a computer-interface machining center that will cut turnaround times and even allow for the creation of items that could not be made on conventional milling machines.
“This machine is going to speed things up around here,” said Carl Nissen, who opened the shop on the corner of McNeill Driver and Cedar Street in 1992. “This opens up a whole new range of things we can fabricate. And it’s going to reduce downtime for businesses that need machinery components.”
CLN has most recently been in the news for building the power-generating windmills that were installed at the Port McNeill Town Office and at West Coast Helicopters, which earlier this year won a provincial green business award. The shop also has its own windmill, and the prototype stands over the home of machinist Gordon Brown.
But CLN has long served a variety of local industrial companies, including Western Forest Products and Lemare Lake Logging, Neucel Specialty Cellulose, Marine Harvest and Orca Sand and Gravel.
“Carl holds U.S. and Canadian patents on some of these items,” Brown said while showing off a table filled with parts fabricated at the shop.
The HAAS VF2 vertical machining center, which arrived here in July, joined a fully automated horizontal lathe purchased earlier by CLN. The new machine was put into service immediately under the guiding hand of Carson Brown, Gordon’s son, who graduated from North Island Secondary School in 2006 and who trained at B.C. Institute of Technology before joining CLN two years ago. It has fallen to Carson to share the intricacies of the new machine with his father and his boss.
“He’s trying,” Gordon Brown said with a chuckle. “It took me awhile to embrace this particular machine. But I had to. We’re doing less and less work on the conventional machines.
“It was quickly apparent you get good, quality parts in short order on this machine.”
Parts are designed on a PC and the data fed to the HAAS mill, which boasts a 21-tool rotary drum. With the aid of a water-soluable oil recycled through an internal tank, the machine can perform a series of cuts, drills and taps on raw metal without stopping to change bits or re-seat the source material.
“In order to stay current with technology, we’ve got to have this,” Gordon Brown said. “Even though we use this stuff every day, we still marvel at what it does.”
Nissen said the machine’s flexibility will allow for a range of jobs, and will serve the small customer as well as CLN’s larger industrial partners.
“If people want the stuff, it’s done right here,” Nissen said. “It keeps the work local, and that’s a plus, too.”