Innovative Attachment Solutions

AMI Attachments
Written by Claire Suttles

AMI Attachments manufactures a wide range of market leading attachments for excavators, backhoes, wheel loaders and other heavy construction equipment. Industry insider Steve Frey founded the company in 2001 after recognizing a gap in the market…
“I had friends in the construction industry and I saw a need for another manufacturer in the heavy equipment attachment industry,” he remembers. “I got started building some attachments for friends of mine in the industry locally and got going from there.”

The humble startup more than met expectations, quickly growing into a major supplier for the heavy equipment attachment market throughout Canada and the United States. Today, AMI Attachments boasts 70 employees, a head office and manufacturing facility in Elmira, Ontario, and a sales and distribution facility in Emerald Park, Saskatchewan.

In addition to designing, manufacturing, and marketing heavy equipment attachments, the company provides ongoing support and service to its customers. The team repairs all makes and models and provides onsite service for wheel loader and excavator attachments. Customers in the Southern Ontario region can call AMI Attachment’s 24-hour service line to receive an onsite response within 12 hours.

AMI Attachments’ creative approach has helped catapult the company to success. “We think outside the box,” Mr. Frey remarks. “We work closely with the customers to come up with innovative solutions. We are always coming up with new ideas for different attachments for the different applications in the construction industry, be it general construction, or buildings, or oil and gas.”

This ability to innovate and think outside of the box allows the team to create custom solutions for virtually any customer. “Our customers know that if they have a particular project, they can come to us and we’ll come up with some solutions for that specific job. A big part of our business is customization of our products.” The company’s experienced design engineers take everything into account when developing a customized solution, from safety requirements and operational efficiencies to the specific applications at hand. “We listen to our customers. We understand the issues they have. The way we approach each situation is different.”

Of course, quality is also a crucial component of the company’s work. “Quality of our product and focus of our employee and management teams are key ingredients of our success,” Mr. Frey states. By listening to customers’ needs and developing an innovative, quality solution, AMI Attachments has managed to produce a number of market-leading products that are beneficial to the industry as a whole.

The AMI Graptor is a specially designed grapple bucket that attaches to virtually any excavator. The Graptor stands out because operators can fully rotate the bucket without losing their grip on the load. The secret is in its built-in rotary actuated thumb. The Graptor is the only grapple bucket on the market today that uses a helical actuator to power this integrated thumb bucket. Because the product uses a helical actuator rather than cylinders, operators do not have to deal with the potential for damaged cylinders, which can be an issue with traditional grapple buckets. The product also enjoys increased efficiency and power, because a helical actuator delivers the greatest amount of torque in the most compact design – over 38,000 ft lbs of torque at 3,000 psi. The actuator is neatly integrated into the top crossbar of the bucket.

The actuator’s incredible holding strength makes the Graptor ideal for handling oversized, heavy objects or for picking up bucketfuls of cumbersome debris. In fact, the team designed the product specifically for the demolition industry. The Graptor’s integrated thumb will maintain a constant grip on virtually any load an excavator could encounter at a demolition site. Made out of AR400 steel, the Graptor’s heavy duty digging bucket includes a row of serrated sidebars on each side to increase gripping capability. To utilize this digging bucket, operators simply connect it to an excavator using any hydraulic coupler, pin grab or wedge style, and one set of hydraulic lines.

AMI Attachments’ Access Mat Grapple is another innovative product that is making waves in the industry. The team developed the product to make it easier for the oil and gas industry to place wooden mats around a job. These wooden mats are used to cover wet or environmentally sensitive areas so that heavy equipment can safely drive to the job site.

The Access Mat Grapple is specially designed to provide maximum control and maximum precision. Operators can quickly spin, tip, tilt, stack, pick, and place mats exactly where they want them to go. Pinpoint responsiveness is possible because the product provides full proportional control of both the clamps and rotator. Furthermore, the Access Mat Grapple can clamp and rotate simultaneously – using just one auxiliary hammer circuit. These special features allow just one worker to place five mats at a time, leading to maximum productivity.

The Access Mat Grapple’s design is streamlined and simple, eliminating the need for costly auxiliaries or extra hoses and fittings. The product boasts 130,000 psi yield strength, T1 grade steel, and replaceable teeth and cutting edges. Rugged engineering allows the grapple to perform in the most demanding conditions while consistently delivering impressive torque and precise movements.

The Graptor and the Access Mat Grapple are just two in a long list of market leading products that AMI Attachments designs and manufactures. The company supplies the industry with a wide range of innovative attachments, dealing with everything from loader backhoes, wheel loaders, skidsteers, and excavators, to dozer blades, pavement edgers, crusher buckets, and screening buckets.

Remarkably, AMI Attachments has been able to keep all of its manufacturing within Canada; the team produces every product at its Ontario manufacturing facility. The greatest challenge the company is currently facing regarding domestic manufacturing is finding enough qualified labour. “The challenge right now with manufacturing in our own facilities is recruiting people to keep up with the demand,” Mr. Frey reports. “That is our primary challenge.”

While certainly a concern, the labour shortage has not slowed the company down. After just 14 years in business, AMI Attachments is already building its third manufacturing facility. The company began operations with a modest, 15,000 square foot facility and doubled capacity just seven years later by relocating to a 30,000 square foot factory. Now, the company is enjoying another expansion with a move to a 57,000 square foot facility. The expansion will increase floor space substantially, allowing the team to add leading edge automated equipment and to increase output capacity.

Mr. Frey expects the company’s expansion to continue. “We definitely see ongoing growth. Our target is to continue to grow 20 percent each year over the next ten years,” he shares. The market in Western Canada is suffering a slowdown, but that is not expected to keep AMI Attachments from moving forward. To help offset the loss of business in that region, the team has become strongly focused on the U.S. market. Until just recently, the company had little involvement in America, but now, “we see some opportunities there and we are actively pursuing the U.S. market.” A favourable exchange rate is one of the positives of doing business south of the border. “We can be quite competitive in the U.S. due to our dollar exchange,” Mr. Frey points out.

He expects the market to rebound in Western Canada in a few years, and when it does, AMI Attachments will have a solid foundation in the United States as well as Canada. With so many opportunities on the horizon – and a wealth of innovative, quality products on hand – the company’s continued success looks like a sure thing.



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