After two years working in systems engineering support for IBM, Lind and a classmate from the Harvard Business School purchased Bayside Controls, a small military subcontractor with $300,000 in sales. That was in 1986. Today, the Bayside Motion Group is a $25 million manufacturer of precision gearheads and linear motion products for the motion control market, and reports a 50% annual growth rate in sales. Under his leadership, Bayside introduced NEMA gearheads, the "clamp-on-pinion," right-angle planetary gearheads, and the first helical planetary gearhead. The most recent innovation, from Bayside's Micro Slides division: The Luge, reportedly the first all-mechanical slide that accepts any linear motor.
Computers have increased factory productivity, giving workers the opportunity to use their brains, says Lind.
Design News: What is distributed automation?
Lind: This is really the result of the computer revolution that has been driving our economy for the past 10-20 years. As electronics become smarter, smaller, and less expensive, nodes of automation become more possible. This means that rather than having one large machine that's not very flexible, manufacturers can have many small, flexible machines that can be easily modified and changed over to do different tasks. This has led to a large increase in demand for distributed electronics like servo motors, motion controllers, and sensors, and for the associated mechanical components, such as gearheads, clutches, brakes, and couplings.
Q: What industries are most appropriate for distributed automation?
A: Paper converting and other industries that need continuous high throughput and make products in smaller batches. They need quick changeovers. In the old days, it could take one or two days to change a line over for a different product. Textiles is another industry where distributed automation is appropriate. Some textile companies change to another fabric every 20 minutes. The automotive industry too, as well as the woodworking industry. Even the semiconductor industry, where they use multi-axis servo motors, not for changeovers but for throughput.
Q: What's the effect of all this on employees in a factory?
A: Productivity in the factory increases, but the increase comes from computers and robots. Factories don't need as many workers with manual skills. They do need workers with computer and problem-solving skills. So, it's elevated the role of workers and gives them the opportunity to use their brains.
Q: What industries require high-precision motion control?
A: The semiconductor industry is a good example. They have to bond wires on ever-smaller heads. The packaging industry also requires high precision. Miniaturization drives the need for precision, overall. But, in the broad sense, accuracy is important in every industry. Throughput requires more precision. Modern servo motors perform fast and accurately. The mechanical systems must keep up with the electronic systems.
Q:What's the impact of increased precision in motion control?
A: New electronic, computer-controlled devices are able to do things faster and more accurately than ever before. This has placed tougher demands on the mechanical components of the system to match the precision, accuracy, and overall performance of the electronic systems. Bayside has filled a void in the market by providing precision mechanical products specifically designed and tailored for the high-performance motion control market.
Q: You have an installed base of 250,000 gearheads worldwide. Is Europe a large market for you?
A: Yes, in fact our sales are growing faster there than in the U.S. Our international sales overall are growing at twice the rate of our U.S. sales. We expect strong growth in the Asian market. We may do a joint venture in Singapore, or acquire a company there. We plan to open a factory in Germany this year.
Q: Do you predict any major breakthroughs in precision motion control in the near future?
A: No. Things will get smaller, smarter, and faster. On the mechanical side, we deal with the laws of physics. Advances will come in the field of materials. Our new Stealth Planetary Gearhead uses our own metal and provides 30% more torque with the same size gears.
Q: The motion control industry is growing so rapidly that all companies must need new engineers. What skills do you look for in engineers?
A: We want engineers who can communicate. Often, they lack the ability to synthesize information and communicate it. The basics of communication are more important than ever. The industry needs people who can put information together in a logical sequence. Engineers are not specialized anymore. Ours write catalogs, procedures for the factory, and talk to customers regularly. Communications skills are essential.