At Advance Carbon Products Inc (ACP) in Hayward, CA, a small but dedicated team of IBEW 1245 members work diligently to craft specialized carbon-based components for a wide range of high-tech applications, including robotics, electrical motors, and aerospace equipment, as well as petrochemical and semi-conductor-specific products.
Local 1245 member Dale Oliveira originally worked in ACP’s brush department, but was transferred over to the mechanical department, where he runs lathes, mills, grinders and diamond saws. When the Utility Reporter caught up with him, he was precision grinding a part for an aircraft compressor.
“This product requires a specific tolerance and finish in order to warrant this type of process,” Oliveira explained. “It was originally cut from a solid billet that was tested for its purity, because this happens to be a very expensive form of carbon, due to its molecular structure, which makes it harder [than some of the other forms of carbon that we work with].”
But even a harder type of carbon is still pretty fragile, and Oliveira’s work requires the utmost skill, especially given the fact that he’s working within specs of .0002 inches – a fraction of the width of a single stand of human hair.
“We take pride in our ability to do that, whereas other companies haven’t found a solution that would enable them to make this part,” said Oliveira, noting that ACP’s process is highly proprietary. “We’re pretty proud of the fact that we came up with the solution to be able to machine this part.”
Oliveira and his co-workers must be extremely meticulous in their work to ensure that it lives up to the company’s very high standards.
“We have to be very careful, because we do not want any chipping in any of our parts.” he said. “We actually scan them under a magnification device, in order to make sure that when the customer gets it, it is chip-free.”
ACP is a family-run company, and Oliveira appreciates the quality management and mentorship he’s received as an employee.
“This company is very unique. They treat us well, and my boss is quite knowledgeable and friendly. He’s been willing to show us bits of information he’s acquired during his time here,” he said.
While the employees at ACP don’t often butt heads with the bosses, Oliveira is still grateful to have the union on his side. He noted the many benefits that the IBEW has helped to secure for him and his co-workers through negotiation and arbitration, including fair wages, quality medical coverage and job security.
“I’ve only been here for about three-and-a-half years, but from what I’ve seen, the union really seems to have a bona-fide interest in our work environment,” he said. “I think highly of my union rep, Cruz Serna. He’s come out here on many occasions to talk with the employees about any issues that we may have. We the employees of ACP feel grateful to be represented by a union that takes interest not only in the bigger companies, but the smaller ones as well.”
–Rebecca Band, IBEW 1245 Communications Director
Photos by John Storey