AMTEC Less-Lethal Systems, Inc., a leading manufacturer of
less lethal munitions once located in Arkansas,
is now part of a growing workforce in North Florida.
The company recently moved its headquarters and entire manufacturing operations
to Perry. This same location near Tallahassee
also offers training in new, cutting-edge facilities located on 465 acres
across the street from its manufacturing plant.
AMTEC Less-Lethal Systems, Inc. (ALS) is a wholly owned
subsidiary of AMTEC Corporation, a prime Department of Defense contractor for 40mm
ammunition, components, and cartridge cases. Prior to the acquisition in 2011,
ALS was a full-line manufacturer of less-lethal munitions offering aerosols,
impact munitions (in 12-gauge, 37mm and 40mm), as well as chemical munitions
and smoke canisters, diversionary devices and stun munitions, along with gas
masks and 37mm and 40mm launchers. These munitions are now under the banner
AMTEC Less-Lethal Systems, Inc.
ALS supplies TOP COP and CQB branded aerosol products
ranging in size from handheld to larger tactical units for riot control, and
chemical munitions from smokes to irritants that can be hand deployed,
launched, or propelled. TOP COP is a nonflammable, 1.33-percent capsaicin
spray, producing 2 million Scoville Heat Units. CQB utilizes the only currently
approved DOD formulation, a 0.69 capsaicin element, non-flammable solution.
The list of less lethal products offered by ALS is long and
includes 37MM and 40MM single-shot launchers produced by Lewis Machine and
Tool, as well as several versions of Penn Arms multi-launchers. They also
market Avon Personal Protective Equipment (gas masks) and accessories and other
products used by law enforcement and military.
These partnerships allow ALS to live up to their tagline of
being a “Full Service Provider of Tactical and Operational Equipment and
Training.” ALS also works closely with International Law Enforcement Educators and
Trainers Association (ILEETA),
the National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA) and the NRA concerning
tactical training and equipment.
New ALS Plant Complex
The move to Florida involved a tremendous amount of
planning, engineering, and construction to create the manufacturing plant,
headquarters, and a top-notch training center for corrections, law enforcement,
and military personnel. All of this had to take before a single item was
relocated. Once complete, ALS had to coordinate the move while still servicing
their existing customers. This meant building stock and planning ahead to allow
for all of the equipment to be installed and new employees to be trained.
In addition to having a new state-of-the-art facility, some
of the benefits for the company’s relocation were tax break incentives, land
available for future expansion, and proximity to major transportation hubs, as
well as a robust workforce. Those employees who were willing to relocate were
invited to stay on. Many did.
The architecture and engineering input into the construction
of this plant required careful consideration to environmental concerns,
employee safety, and enhanced process flow. The workplace equipment and
engineering controls were designed to maximize ergonomics for the employees to
help increase productively and enhance safety.
The setup of the headquarters and plant is also designed to
promote a team/family concept. Looking like a campus, the buildings are laid
out to not only maximize the flow of products, but also its employees. An
important consideration in the design and layout was that no matter the job
function or position, that all employees remained “connected” to one another.
For example, employees in shipping, those in less-lethal assembly lines, and
executive staff members all eat at the same tables in a large common area or
break room. There aren’t separate dining facilities for management.
New employees go through an ATF background submission and
undergo job-specific training prior to being put on the line. Located along an
assembly area entrance wall are posted the latest procedures—updated with
relevant copy machine photos—for the employees at the various assembly line
stations to review and familiarize themselves. These photos are visual
reminders of items on the instruction sheets that are reviewed by the involved
Employees are challenged and encouraged to come up with
better ways to make product. Employee suggestions are reviewed by a program of
processes and procedures and by the engineering staff. The suggestions are
implemented if there aren’t any issues. These issues might include the fact
that the idea had already been checked by the staff, or the problem that might
work for one step of the assembly line process may not work out in the overall
Plant and Assembly
According to Dave DuBay, Chief Technology Officer, “The
interior of each building begins with an assembly-line look, starting with raw
materials and flowing to finished goods; there is automation where it can be
done without removing visual inspection or sacrificing quality. The
assembly-line processes include the marking of products with a UV silk screen
procedure, which eliminates lengthy ink drying time. Every step of the way
there is an inspection; it’s not just employees working on a machine and
packing products in boxes.”
Part of the responsibility of every person on an assembly
line is to check a list of criteria, so each and every product that comes down
the assembly line is inspected. Once complete, approximately three out of 100
less-lethal products are tested. Procedures must meet certain standards. For
example, Employee Number 31 must be sure the gunpowder meets their
specifications. It’s quality control all along the way.
The plant and its assembly lines are “clean room”
environments with contamination control throughout. By combining process and
engineering controls, the work environment is optimized for worker safety and
product flow. Other control components include humidity moisture regulation and
Tear Gas Pellets
Consequential-engineering technology involves the health and
safety of employees. For example, the actual environmental contamination
control systems in the rooms dealing with the making of tear gas pellets (about
the size of clay skeet discs) allow them to later be manipulated by people,
wearing only the necessary amount of PPE for protection against the chemical
irritants. This means that once the irritant is pressed into pellets, handling
them and placing them into finished products in much easier. The tear gas
pellets, however, are made by employees protected during the process with
chemical suits and respirators.
When the door to such a room is opened by a person not
wearing a gas mask, only a slight irritant effect to the nose and eyes can be
detected. The door has a foam panel on the inside; when the room is in
operation, it collects the irritant dust, preventing it from escaping.
Meanwhile, the less-lethal tear gas worker is suited up in chemically
protective industrial clothing, gloves, and gas mask. The dust is filtered and
captured by industrial air handling equipment that recycles the harvested tear
gas dust before it escapes into the outside environment, and then returns it
into the pellet-making processes.
Along the exterior walls of the rooms where the actual
recycling machinery hums, there isn’t the slightest whiff of the irritants
being processed back into the production process. In addition, there are
individual showering and clothing changing stations for the employees, commonly
referred to as decontamination stations. When utilized together in this
fashion, it is described as a high-dollar environmental control system, with
minimal impact on the environment and more importantly, the employees.
In another building, systems are in place for the production
of explosive products such as gunpowder-launched less-lethal projectiles and
flash-bangs. In a mix room, work with such products is accomplished by an
employee seated behind thick plastic windows located on the front and two sides
of a box-like work station. The employee, using a buddy system, works form
outside the box using protective glove inserts to manipulate the explosives
The back wall of the work station box is also the
interior/exterior wall of the building, built with a flash-up blowout panel.
This means that if there is an accidental initiation, the blowout panel is
forced away from the building wall, directing the blast out of the building and
allowing the blast pressure to escape, protecting the employee. These blast
shield hoods have all been tested, so the team members know what can be safely
handled and in what quantity.
In the largest building on the property sits the shipping
warehouse. This is the gateway of the company, where raw materials come in and
finished products leave, headed to customers all over the world. ALS has a
fully certified and internally compliant shipping hub. The company must comply
with DOT, BATF, Department of State, Department of Justice, as well as IATA
regulations, just to name a few.
In the warehouse, orders are boxed for shipment. Large
orders are on pallets. These orders can be as small as commodity items that are
shipped on FedEx and UPS trucks, to larger international orders that are placed
in shipping containers and transported by semi-trucks and then onto cargo ships
or air carriers.
The warehouse can hold up to $55 million worth of finished
product at any one time, along with raw material storage. Given the nature of
how these products are used, this is the company’s commitment to providing
product as quickly as possible, whenever it may be needed, once the State
Department and the BATF have approved the sale.
AMTEC Less-Lethal Systems have been serving the law
enforcement, military, and corrections communities since 1996, both domestically
and abroad. As a full-service provider of tactical and operational equipment,
ALS has continued to expand its product offering to meet the needs of its
customers and increasing markets.
Jim Weiss is a retired lieutenant from the Brook Park, Ohio
Police Department and a frequent contributor to Tactical Response.
Mickey Davis is a California-based writer and author.