Motion control solutions are getting simpler and more cost effective, as companies align themselves to the application needs of the market.
Design News: You've been named to head up the new Danaher Motion Group. What Danaher companies are aligned under this new umbrella?
Gross: The five companies that make up the Danaher Motion Group are API Motion, InMotion, Kollmorgen, Pacific Scientific, and Warner Electric. These companies are all relatively recent acquisitions of the $4 billion Danaher Corp., and they all have significant experience and depth in their motion control product lines. The Motion Group itself is made up of four business units—General Purpose Systems, Special Purpose Systems, Motion Components, and Precision Systems, under which all five companies will be aligned.
Q: How does the design engineer benefit by having these individual companies aligned together?
A: I think one of the most important and unique aspects of motion control is that the ultimate solution often needs to be tailored for a particular application—and by that I mean tailored in its performance, tailored in its features, as well as tailored in its cost. By aligning these companies together within our organization, we will be able to do a great job of matching up those elements of our organization that have the capabilities to meet a customer's specific needs. We will also be able to help the customer on a broader basis, supplying them with a complete motion control solution as opposed to just selling them a motor or a controller.
And even though we are grouping these companies by capability, the specific brands and individual company cultures will remain the same as they always have. The primary difference is that they will now be able to represent the whole motion control family of Danaher, not just in sales but also engineering and applications support.
Q: What is the single biggest trend going on in motion control today?
A: In a word, economics. Engineers are looking for better performance at a better price, and we're getting to the point at which lower costs are achievable without any trade-off in performance. There are a number of factors helping to reduce cost: First, every month we get better at manufacturing these products. Second, we're packing more and more power into smaller and smaller spaces. Third, a growing market is creating greater economies of scale. And fourth, new technologies such as direct drive are helping to eliminate unnecessary components of the solution and therefore are pushing costs down.
Another trend in motion control is the move toward greater simplification of technology. I've been around this industry quite awhile, and even I get confused sometimes. Yet, consider the Internet—it's a tremendously complicated technology that is served up in such a way that even the most unsophisticated computer users can take advantage of it. That should be our model! We're not quite there yet with motion control, but we have made great strides in making the technology easier for engineers to work with.
Q: What do engineers need to know to apply motion control successfully in their designs?
A: They need to recognize that it's an electromechanical problem. They can't afford to put all their efforts into the mechanics side and just forget about the controls side, or vice versa. Engineers need to understand the relationship between control and stability and all the mechanics associated with the problem. Obviously, that point is getting across to engineers, the conversion to motion-based technology is happening everywhere.
Tom Gross Group Executive Danaher Motion Group Bristol, CT
Thomas S. Gross is Group Executive, Motion Control for Danaher Corporation. Since joining Danaher in 1999, he has also served as Group Executive, Test and Measurement focusing on network, electronic, and electrical test markets. With over 22 years experience in key general management and marketing/sales assignments, Gross was earlier Chief Executive Officer of Xycom Automation, Inc., a supplier of industrial computers to the factory automation market. Previously, Gross spent 20 years with Allen-Bradley/ Rockwell Automation. Gross earned his BS Degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 1976 from the University of Wisconsin.