EAST HELENA — The inflow of federal stimulus cash has many native governments in Montana upgrading their water and wastewater techniques. For companies like M.E.T. Automation and Controls, that might deliver each advantages and challenges.
“As a small enterprise, it’s all the time excellent news to have exercise, to have initiatives,” mentioned proprietor Dennis Burgard.
Burgard began M.E.T. in Anaconda in 1996. He moved the enterprise to Helena in 2001 after which to its present location in East Helena in 2017.
The corporate assembles digital management panels for water and sewer techniques throughout Montana and in neighboring states. In addition they write this system code and design the pc interface for operators.
“What they’re asking of us is how they will management their course of higher, and as importantly, we may give them alarms and notifications when there’s upset situations,” Burgard mentioned. “In the event that they do have a course of that has failed, a element that has failed, a tank that could be going very low for ingesting water degree, they must be alarmed, and they also’re asking for a extra strong method of doing that.”
Burgard says M.E.T. is often engaged on a mean of six completely different initiatives in a yr. Nevertheless, they’ve been receiving much more inquiries after the passage of federal laws just like the American Rescue Plan Act. In Montana alone, the state has dedicated $250 million in ARPA funding to water and sewer initiatives, and native governments are dedicating much more.
“We’ve all the time had busy and sluggish occasions, however actually there’s an enormous push proper now,” mentioned Burgard.
Right this moment, M.E.T. has six staff, and so they’re planning to deliver on one other. Whereas they put the panels collectively themselves, they buy all the person digital elements from different firms. In a single smaller panel, Burgard says they might use almost 500 elements.
That want for that tools has turn into a problem. Due to demand, Burgard says it’s more durable to get objects like radios and processors.
“Sometimes we will have these on-shelf or in our workplace by about two weeks, and just lately we’ve positioned an order and it’s going to be the center of January for these merchandise at this level,” he mentioned.
One notably essential element that’s laborious to search out is an analog enter, which supplies extra exact readings of issues like tank ranges and stress.
Whereas the frenzy of stimulus cash is spurring initiatives now, Burgard has some issues concerning the future. He mentioned it’s best for his enterprise when there’s a regular stream of recent work, and he wonders what the long run will deliver in that case many localities do their work unexpectedly.
“My concern is down the street two, three, 4 years, are we going to have only a feast and famine situation the place we don’t have the initiatives down the street that may naturally be occurring,” he mentioned.