When looking at the many capabilities of AMIX Group, there is an overlapping symmetry that appeals to Tony Marra, Director of Sales. “I like the way we can draw a line all the way through our operations,” he said. Using the example of marine pilings, Marra described how AMIX Group can provide new piling through AMIX Steel & Surplus or Western Concrete; pull out the old pile and install the new one using the AMIX Marine Projects and AMIX Marine Services divisions; and then either salvage or recycle the old one through AMIX Marine Salvage. It’s this ability to leverage each of their services that accounts for much of the company’s success.
Before getting into the details of some of the unique projects and activities on the go and coming up, establishing a basic knowledge of the five divisions was the first order of business.
Looking first at AMIX Marine Services, Fleet Operations Manager Dan Virtanen noted that wood fibre transportation is the staple of the business — specifically, bundled logs and wood chips — as well as general towing and barging. “We have two steady runs of woodchips originating from Oregon and our transload facility in Prince Rupert,” he said. Virtanen added that the facility in Prince Rupert, as well as those in Surrey and Chilliwack, provide transload services for all manner of cargo — heavy equipment, break bulk, construction and demolition materials to name a few — and transport anywhere along the west coast of North America as well as long-hauls to other parts of the world given their International Load Lined equipment.
A piece of new business for the Marine Services division is managing a roll on — roll off trailer service originating from the City Transfer Terminal in Richmond destined for the Sunshine Coast/Howe Sound and Powell River. “We purchased a barge, the AMIX 2000, for the trade and manage the towing services,” said Marra. The purpose-built container barge NT 12000 with a 1,044-TEU capacity is also used as a project barge, servicing the steel transload requirements of importers to Vancouver ocean terminals — another example of the company’s general cargo transport capability.
In speaking about the services provided under AMIX Marine Salvage, Project Coordinator Chad Carter described the process behind remediating a vessel to the stage where it can be recycled — first removing hazardous material and fluids then salvaging components of value before ending up with a steel shell that can be recycled at AMIX’s yard on the Fraser River or, in the near future, at a new property site in Howe Sound (more on that below). Vessels requiring deconstruction come from a variety of sources including Coast Guard, industry and individuals. “However,” notes Carter, “fully 50 per cent of the vessels of concern and derelict vessels are made of fibreglass or wood and can be found in various states of complete disintegration, offering little salvage value.”
AMIX also has Steel & Surplus in Chilliwack — a growing steel distributor with a wide range of products to service all customers from walk-ins to major fabricators as well as Western Concrete, an 11-truck ready mix company, also in Chilliwack.
Every project is different
Saving the most multi-faceted division for last, AMIX Projects is the link in the company that pulls resources from each division to bring solutions to complex marine projects. Encompassing all divisions, AMIX Projects acts as a one-stop shop to offer lifting, transporting, storage, transloading and assistance to construction and deconstruction projects.
The best way to describe AMIX’s capabilities is by example. And of the examples, each shows a unique situation that required a tailor-made solution.
Most recently, AMIX worked with Dynamic Heavy Lift to remove and recycle the crane that collapsed onto a container ship at Vanterm in early February. “The Arctic Tuk was on site for about a week,” said Marra, “with our project barge, the NT12000, which has a 15,000-ton capacity. We used specialized recycling equipment, including ‘monster’ shears, to do the final dismantling.”
Earlier this year, AMIX assisted Jones Marine Group in recovering the Samantha J which sank over four years ago. The tug was brought to the surface and put on the deck of The Arctic Tuk where 35,000 litres of water and other liquids were pumped into containment tanks. “After being down 240 feet of water for four years, once we put it back in the water and remediated the liquids, it floated just fine,” Marra said, noting Jones’ plan to get the vessel back into the fleet.
Last year, AMIX lifted six RTGs off the dock at Vanterm and took them away for recycling; another four are scheduled for recycling this year but will be rolled onto a barge this time.
Also last year, AMIX recovered a ship’s anchor in the Port of Nanaimo. While the piece was destined for eventual salvage, AMIX donated the chain to the Port where it is now on display. Another anchor recovery was recently completed in the Vancouver harbour.
Development of new and renovation of existing infrastructure on the Vancouver harbour north shore waterfront will see the AMIX Projects team on location for extended periods this year. Projects include shiploader installations at G3, Neptune and Fibreco.
Mixed in amongst the larger projects, AMIX works closely with the steamship community on a steady stream of project cargo, transformer and boat lifts. Servicing vessel discharge at anchor or alongside a terminal using their heavy lift capabilities.
Assets supporting operations
Supporting all of AMIX’s operations is a fleet of 16 barges, five tugs and six cranes/crane barges as well as a number of pieces of specialized equipment used for recycling, salvage and heavy lifts. Marra described a continual process of maintaining, upgrading and acquiring new assets. “We have a number of vessels that have reached end of life and are in the process of being salvaged and recycled (by AMIX Marine Salvage, of course),” said Marra, “for example, the Commander, the Audrey Gail and the Invader. And as the older fleet of tugs, barges and equipment moves through the decommissioning stage, we are bringing on new assets — most recently, the Amix 2000 cargo barge, a 4600-series 5 Manitowoc 350-ton capacity crawler crane and a specialized mobile container stuffing unit.”
Other equipment that can be employed for specialized services include the Think Big, an 85 x 140-foot spud barge; the Miller 202, a 50 x 200-foot semi-submersible equipped with an 80-ton Skagit winch; and the CFL #3, a fully submersible 1,200-ton capacity dry-dock.
Dan Virtanen added that the 1,500 HP Sea Warrior was put back into the fleet in 2017 and has been fully utilized ever since, indicating that the company is now considering next steps in terms of fleet expansion.
A busy time ahead
As mentioned earlier, AMIX has signed a long-term lease on a new property site in Howe Sound. The facility focuses on trailer cargo transload but could soon expand into use as a recycling location for marine-based infrastructure. “While our inland recycling facility is more retail-oriented, this new facility will include marine recycling like the RTGs out of Vancouver, the ship to shore crane as well as barges and boats,” said Marra, adding that there are plans to develop a marine industrial complex in the area that would “support our requirements around tug and barge and other marine maintenance as well as potentially to the other industrial complexes there — the log yards, pulp mills, etc.”
When speaking about AMIX’s properties, Marra noted that they are currently in discussion with the Province to determine the impact of the new Pattullo Bridge on their Surrey property. “We’re in the throes of it right now but it’s looking like the site will be needed for the project,” he said. “We’re still investigating options — for example, whether we have one property or multiple properties as a replacement.”
Complicating the process is the lack of commercial waterfront, something the Port of Vancouver has been sounding alarms over for the past decade. “It will be very difficult to recreate what we have already,” Marra continued. “There are a number of requirements — deep, protected water; land zoning, proximity to rail and highway, etc. — as well as keeping in mind a location that takes into account our staff. We put a lot of effort into training and, if we’re too far away, we’ll run into challenges in retaining our current team.”
Indeed, both Marra and Virtanen expressed a great deal of pride when speaking about the talents and skills of their crew. “We recently had five of our machine operators obtain their red seal from the Industry Training Authority as a result of the crane operator training program that we developed in house,” said Virtanen. “And we’ve had eight of our marine crew go on to be pilots, including the youngest Master ever to be accepted into the pilotage.”
Marra echoed Virtanen’s comments: “We provide a lot of support to staff who want to further develop skills. And we are always working on continuous improvement — for example, through quarterly committee meetings with masters, mates, deckhands and engineers to plan activities and prepare for upcoming projects.”
“When I think about all of the services the AMIX Group can provide and all of our expertise, it really revolves around the creation of infrastructure or the demolition of infrastructure,” Marra said. “And all of our divisions can be stitched together all the way through a project — fabrication with our Steel and Concrete divisions; removal and remediation with our Salvage division; or creation of new infrastructure with our Marine Services and Projects divisions. We see that as our area of expertise and value-add to our services.”